Tag: Nick Calathes

Jon Leuer

One late draft trade: Memphis sends Jon Leuer to Phoenix in exchange for draft rights to Andrew Harrison

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In one late draft night trade, the Phoenix Suns got a little bigger, and the Memphis Grizzlies added another point guard, potentially.

The trade sent big man Jon Leuer from Memphis to Phoenix in exchange for the draft rights to Andrew Harrison, who the Suns had taken with the No. 44 pick.

Leuer is a big who is supposed to be able to shoot from the outside and stretch the floor, but he struggled with his shot this past season and seemed tentative even when open. He averaged  4.5 points per game in a limited for Memphis last season, one that shrunk as the season wore on. He shot 46.9 percent from three two seasons ago maybe he can find that form again in Phoenix’s offense.

It’s a little tough to see where Harrison will get minutes in Memphis. Harrison is a big, strong point guard who knows how to use that size to bull his way to the rim, plus he can defend the one and the two. But there are questions about his handles and decision making — and the Grizzlies are loaded at the point with Mike Conley, Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes in the mix.

It was a little trade on a night that was supposed to be filled with big, exciting trades, but mostly fizzled out on that end. This kind of trade was sadly more the norm.

PBT Second-Round Playoff Previews: Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Stephen Curry, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph


Golden State Warriors: 67-15

Memphis Grizzlies: 55-27


Golden State Warriors: none

Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley (face)

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possession)

Golden State Warriors: Offense 109.7 (4th in NBA), Defense 98.2 (1st in NBA)

Memphis Grizzlies: Offense 103.1 (13th in NBA), Defense 99.9 (4th in NBA)


1) How healthy is Mike Conley?

The Grizzlies point guard, who’s expected to miss at least Game 1, is very good and very important to Memphis.

He penetrates well, gets the defense moving and then makes the right pass. He’s also a good 3-point shooter on a team lacking for those. Best of all, he executes well in a slow pace that probably favors the defense.

Plus, he’s a superb defender who makes life easier for the bigs behind him. (Though it’s possible nobody can defend Stephen Curry, anyway).

Even while dismantling the Trail Blazers in five games, Memphis outscored them by just two points in 161 minutes without Conley (and 32 in 79 minutes with him).

Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes are underrated backups, and both had their moments against the Trail Blazers. But besting low expectations is not nearly enough against Golden State.

The Grizzlies need their near-All-Star point guard.

2) Can the Grizzlies post-up – without getting burned on the other end?

The Grizzlies led the NBA in points scored on post-ups by featuring Zach Randolph (fourth in post-up points per game) and Marc Gasol (sixth).

But the Warriors have two of the league’s better post defenders in Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut.

It should be a fun matchup between those pairings when Memphis has the ball.

However, merely winning the battle is not nearly enough for the Grizzlies. They also need to keep up with Bogut and Gasol on the other end.

Few players capable of handling Randolph and Gasol in the post also possess such offensive versatility. Green hits open 3-pointers well enough that his defender should get pulled outside, and Bogut passes well from the high post. They help the Warriors create a ton of space, and Memphis’ bigs – looking at you, Randolph – will have to show plenty of agility to keep up.

3) Can the Warriors play slowly (and will we even find out)?

Golden State played at the NBA’s second-fastest pace this season. Memphis, on the other hand, played at the second-slowest pace among playoff teams.

The Grizzlies will probably try to slow the tempo, but even if they do, the Warriors should be fine.

Golden State has won all its games played at or below Memphis season-long pace mark, per Nylon Calculus possession stats. But that’s just four games, a very small sample – which is telling.

The Warriors excel at setting the tone. The slowest pace among playoff teams this season? The Pelicans, whom Golden State swept, though that series was the slowest of the first round.

The Grizzlies might be better at deliberately slowing the pace than New Orleans, but probably not good enough – and even if they are, it probably won’t matter.


The Warriors are better, healthier and more rested. They can match Memphis preferred style and then unleash their own machinations.

If Conley were healthy, I’d give the Grizzlies another game. Alas:

Warriors in 4.

Report: Mike Conley to travel with Grizzlies, not expected to play in Game 1

Mike Conley

In a series where your team has to defend Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, you need all your elite perimeter defenders on hand.

Which is why the following is bad news for the Grizzlies heading into Game 1 on the road, via Gary Parish of CBSSports.com.

That is not a definitive no, but it isn’t likely he goes in Game 1 Sunday.

Conley suffered three facial fractures from an inadvertent elbow from C.J. McCollum in the last round, and on Monday had surgery to put two steel plates in his face to secure the bones. So, you can forgive him for missing some games. He was at the closeout Game 5 but his face was still very swollen. The rumor has been the Grizzlies hoped to have him back by Game 3 of this series, but there is no timetable. Less Conley means more Beno Udrih, Courtney Lee, and Nick Calathes.

This is a tough matchup for the Grizzlies in the best of circumstances. They have an elite defense but they struggle to defend in transition, they are average at running teams off the three-point line, and they are not great at stopping the ball handler coming off the pick-and-roll. Three things that are the core tenets of the Warriors game plan. It’s just a tough matchup for Memphis.

Conley would be a significant boost for Memphis, but his health must be the priority.

Mike Conley’s face looks swollen, still not timetable to return to Grizzlies

Mike Conley

Mike Conley was in the building to watch the Grizzlies close out the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night, hanging out in a luxury box just a couple days after facial surgery to repair multiple fractures following  an inadvertent elbow from C.J. McCollum in Game 3.

The big question is when Conley will be back on the court? Memphis tips off against Golden State in the next round on Sunday, and the Grizzlies need his defense against the loaded Warrior backcourt (nothing against Beno Udrih, Courtney Lee, and Nick Calathes, who are doing their best, but it’s not the same).

The answer is nobody knows. And everyone with Memphis is tight-lipped about a potential timeline. That includes Conley, who was interviewed by TNT’s Lewis Johnson and showed a face remained quite swollen. It didn’t look good, but Conley said it was vastly better than it was a couple days ago, after surgery that put two new steel plates in his face.

At some point, the healing will reach a place where he will get cleared by doctors to play in a mask, but when that point is nobody knows exactly. Conley said he hoped to be back “sooner rather than later.”

But looking at his face in this interview, it wouldn’t be a shock for him to miss the first game — or few games — of the next round still. There is still a lot of swelling there, a lot of recovering to do.

LaMarcus Aldridge: ‘Pressure is on Memphis to close us out’

LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph
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The Blazers avoided elimination with a Game 4 victory at home over the Grizzlies, thanks in large part to a brilliant 32-point performance from Damian Lillard that kept his team alive.

Portland still trails three games to one in the series, but in advance of another potential elimination contest, LaMarcus Aldridge says that his team isn’t the one that’s facing all the pressure.

From Michael Wallace of ESPN.com:

The second part is likely more true than the first.

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in NBA history, and this Blazers squad isn’t likely to become the first. They trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter of Game 4, and Lillard only had the breakout game that he did because Mike Conley sat out with a facial injury that later required surgery.

Conley is out again for Game 5, so Lillard (against the likes of Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih) will once again have his opportunities. But there is little margin for error where the Blazers are concerned, and if the team should find itself trailing late in the contest, it will be up to Aldridge at that point to prove his statement’s worth.