NBA Free Agency Report: Memphis Grizzlies Inks Star Jaren Jackson Jr. To Multi-Year Extension
Grizzlies young star re-signs with team
Even though he is coming off an injury-riddled year, it has become apparent that the Memphis Grizzlies front office has enough belief in Jaren Jackson Jr’s talent and potential for the years to come. As per a column written by Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski for the ESPN, he pointed out that Jackson has indeed inked a four-year, $105 million rookie contract extension with the Grizzlies, ensuring his long-term partnership with the team.
Jackson, who just turned 22 years of age last September, was the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He was a part of an excellent draft class that also featured two All-Stars in Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks. The 2018 NBA Draft class also had tons of good young players such as Deandre Ayton, Wendell Carter Jr., Collin Sexton, Mikal Bridges, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Miles Bridges, Michael Porter Jr., Donte DiVincenzo, Kevin Huerter, Aaron Holiday, Anfernee Simons, Landry Shamet, Robert Williams III, Devonte’ Graham, Mitchell Robinson, and Gary Trent Jr.
It was definitely a frustrating year for Jackson last season as he spent almost the entirety of the Grizzlies’ campaign recovering from a meniscus injury. He only suited up for 11 games and logged 23.5 minutes, while putting up a decent stat line of 14.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks per contest. Jackson also produced a set of shooting percentages that included a 42% overall clip from the field, a 28% clip from the three-point line, and an 83% clip from the free throw line.
As per a column written by Joe Vardon for The Athletic, he pointed out that the Grizzlies are expecting more from Jackson, and that by trading away starting big man Jonas Valanciunas, the young combo big man has the platform and the opportunity to do great things in the current 2021-22 NBA Season.
The Memphis Grizzlies and forward Jaren Jackson Jr. have agreed to a four-year, $105 million rookie contract extension, a source told The Athletic, confirming an ESPN report. The deal comes ahead of the NBA's 6 p.m. ET deadline for rookie extensions. Included in Jackson's deal are protections for the Grizzlies in case Jackson gets hurt again, allowing them to save some or all of the money they'd owe him — sources told The Athletic. Jackson missed most of last season after tearing the meniscus in his left knee in the NBA bubble in the summer of 2020.
Yes and no. Jackson played in just 11 games last season due to a torn meniscus suffered during the 2020 bubble. It is a virtual lock for Morant to get an even more lucrative extension next summer, and while offering him the cash is obvious, giving Jackson a large contract even though he's barely played in half of Memphis' games over his first three seasons is a bit of a risk. The reason Jackson's extension isn’t a surprise? Morant wants him playing on Beale Street as long as he does. Morant's happiness is paramount. With career averages of 15.4 points and 4.7 boards, Jackson will be expected to contribute even more in both categories. The Grizzlies traded Jonas Valanciunas and replaced him with Steven Adams so Jackson would have more room to operate in the post.
Jackson, a 6-foot-11 combo big man, made it to the All-Rookie Team during his first year in the league. He averaged a decent stat line of 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks during his rookie year, but he did a tremendous job of improving his numbers the next season. In his sophomore year with the Grizzlies, Jackson put up averages of 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals, and 1.6 blocks per contest. He also showed his full repertoire as he attempted more three-pointers and made an excellent 39% of them.
While it is true that he still have a lot of room left to improve on his weaknesses and the things that he cannot do just yet, it is without a doubt that the current skill set that he has at this early stage of his career is indeed intriguing. He has enough mobility to cover all bases on defense and his switchability allows him to guard all five positions. It is the reason why he averaged at least one steal and one block per game even in the limited playing time that he saw last season.
On offense, there is no doubt that Jackson is equally as intriguing and exciting. He has an adept inside and outside offensive game, and he can put the ball on the floor to blow past bigger centers. Playmaking is one area that he can still work on, but his willingness to improve his outside shooting will definitely blend well with his athleticism and his ability to play above the rim.
As per an article written by Jonathan Tjarks for The Ringer last 2018, he pointed out that even with the likes of Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, and Mohamed Bamba, Jackson still possess the most complete and versatile skill set among the draft class’ slew of talented big men. Tjarks also took the time to point out that Jackson’s potential to be a defensive anchor for any team will surely pave the way for him to be a great player for the years to come.
Jaren Jackson Jr. has a chance to be the best big man in the 2018 NBA draft. He’s certainly the best two-way player of the bunch right now, better defensively than Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III and better offensively than Mohamed Bamba. Jackson fits the new prototype for NBA centers: He knocks down 3s, protects the rim, and defends the 3-point line. Despite being the youngest player likely to enter the draft, he’s also one of the safest picks. He won’t have to change his game to be an elite player at the next level. The only thing holding him back is being underutilized in the Michigan State offense. He has the highest floor of all the freshman bigs and more upside than his stats suggest.
Jackson is a new kind of defensive anchor. At 6-foot-11 and 242 pounds, his frame is right in the sweet spot between size and speed. He’s big enough to be a dominant presence inside without sacrificing his ability to guard on the perimeter. Jackson is the cornerstone of the no. 9 defense in the country as a freshman. According to the tracking numbers at hooplens.com, the Spartans give up 0.87 points per possession when he’s in and 0.98 points per possession when he’s out. He’s the only starter the team defends better with when he’s on the floor than when he’s off.
Of course, this Grizzlies team is not about Jackson. They still have the superstar potential of Ja Morant, a good young combo wing in Dillon Brooks, and a slew of tough-minded and versatile players such as Desmond Bane, De’Anthony Melton, Kyle Anderson, Steven Adams, and Brandon Clarke. They did not made any drastic moves, but they have enough firepower on both ends of the floor to make some noise in the stacked Western Conference and probably end up with a coveted ticket to the NBA Playoffs.
Along with Jackson’s overall skill set, the Grizzlies also pin their hopes on a big jump from Morant. Now entering his third year in the league, the 6-foot-3 athletic point guard is coming off a productive sophomore season in which he put a tremendous stat line of 19.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 0.9 steals per contest. He also produced a set of shooting percentages that included a 45% overall clip from the field, a 30% clip from beyond the arc, and a 73% clip from the free throw line.
It is without a doubt that Morant has the ability to make plays for himself and for his teammates, and his athleticism and underrated upper body strength make it possible for him to finish strong around and above the rim. However, his outside shooting is still inconsistent, and that is something that he should work on for him to make that next jump from being a good star to a great superstar.
Also, Morant pointed out that playing with Jackson is something that he wants to do for the years to come. It could be one of the reasons why the Grizzlies front office wasted no time in extending Jackson’s contract, as by doing so, they are also making Morant a happier man. As per a separate column written by Joe Vardon for The Athletic, Morant mentioned that he definitely loved the fact that Jackson has inked an extension with the team, and that he is certainly not a “big fan on the leaving.” Morant also made it known that he believes he and his teammates have what it takes to be a contender in the West for this upcoming season.
“I love everything about it,” Morant told me, speaking about playing for the Grizzlies and living in Memphis. “I feel like this is my home, from the front office down, the fans, the community. Everybody brought me in and made me feel like family, and me and my family couldn’t ask for anything better. Me, I’m not a big fan on the leaving,” Morant said. “As long as I’m here, I’m here; that’s my focus. Regardless, I’m going to make the best of any situation, continue to just go out with my teammates, win games, play in front of our fans and do whatever I can to continue to bring love.
I feel like the talent was always there. We just have to piece it together, and a lot of credit goes to our front office and our coaching staff giving us the right pieces to be good as soon as we started,” Morant said. “My mindset when I was coming here was not being a lottery pick again unless we trading someone. I was coming here to win, and I was able to do that my first two years, basically making it my first year, making it my second … still not satisfied. I want to go farther. I want a championship.”
Morant and the Grizzlies won their first assignment of the season after handing out a 132-121 beating of Collin Sexton and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a great start to the new season, especially in this case that they got the win in front of their home town fans. The first quarter of that game ended on a tie, but the Grizzlies put up masterful performance in the second and fourth quarters to get their first win of the season.
Morant led the charge for the Grizzlies as he put up a tremendous all-around stat line of 37 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 blocks. He made 17 of his 29 total attempts from the floor, although he made only one of his four attempts from the three-point line. Still, it was a great performance for the third-year guard as he continue to assert himself on the offensive end of the floor.
Bane thrived as a starter for the Grizzlies as he filled up his stat sheet with 22 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals, while De’Anthony Melton contributed 20 points, 4 boards, and 3 assists, while also drilling four of his six attempts from beyond the arc. It was a quiet scoring night for Jackson as he only came up with 13 points, but he also had four blocks and he hit three triples.
Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins, who is now on his third year with the team, said that both teams played well and that his wards did great under the huge pressure that the Cavaliers continued to put up through the entirety of the game. Jenkins also took the time to point out that his players were definitely locked in, and that they came up with crucial plays in regulation.
“I thought we were a little lackadaisical coming out in the third quarter, but then the guys just kept talking on the bench. You’ve just got to get stops, get it on run. A couple strings of stops together just kind of broke it open. I’m just really proud of our guys at facing some adversity in the second half. I thought our crowd was phenomenal tonight.
And then just late game they hit some big shots and then we made some adjustments. Our guys were locked in. That was crucial down the stretch. Execution on offense, defense, you know, continue to grow for this team. But, one of 82, definitely a lot of great learning moments and we’re going to get better from it. But, just credit both teams for playing really hard tonight and I think both teams are definitely getting better from this experience.”
After their recent win against the Cavaliers, the Grizzlies will then go on a tough four-game road trip that will include difficult games against Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers, and Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Jordan Poole, and the Golden State Warriors.