Knicks Team Insider Hints at Pursuit of Young Grizzlies Star

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Getty Jaren Jackson Jr. is guarded by Wenyen Gabriel during a May 10 game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

There is no offseason when it comes to the ever-spinning New York Knicks rumor mill, and amid the team’s first playoff season since 2012-2013, the mill is working overtime.

New York is 39-31, the Eastern Conference sixth-seed and boasting an All-NBA candidate in forward Julius Randle.

With four games to go in their regular season, some eyes are already turning to the offseason, when the Knicks are expected to play a major role in the upcoming free agency market.


Next Young Star on the Move?

The New York Knicks kicked off their six-game road trip with a 118-104 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, completing a season sweep of Ja Morant and company.

It was just the sixth game of the season for Grizzlies power forward/center Jaren Jackson Jr., who spent the majority of the season recovering from a torn MCL suffered in the NBA’s bubble in Orlando.

He scored 15 points and hit two of his four 3s, reaffirming his status as a stretch big.

As Marc Berman of the New York Post reported, the performance may have helped to make an impression on the New York Knicks front office, which recently hired Jaren Jackson Sr. as an assistant G-League coach:

Jackson, who threw down a vicious dunk and made two 3-pointers in front of Knicks senior vice president William Wesley during the Knicks’ 118-104 win in Memphis on May 3, will enter the final $9.1 million year of his four-year contract next season. If he doesn’t sign an extension this fall, his future bears watching.

Berman prefaced that with reports that there’s a brewing lack of confidence around the 21-year-old within the Grizzlies front office, centered on his durability:

Whispers in Memphis are the Grizzlies aren’t yet sold on their 2018 lottery pick, 6-foot-11 power forward/center Jaren Jackson Jr. They’re concerned about his durability. In late April, Jackson, 21, made his return from an extended absence after he tore the meniscus in his left knee last August while playing in the NBA bubble.

Jackson Jr. was slated to be star young point guard Morant’s running mate for years to come in Memphis. But it’s possible that an injury the caliber of his meniscus tear has derailed past plans.

It’s not the most uncommon thing, and New York Knicks fans, in particular, are well versed in this department.

Look at Kristaps Porzingis, who in the midst of his recovery from an ACL tear, made a trade request that landed him in Dallas next to Luka Doncic as a member of the Mavericks.

At the time of Porzingis’s injury, he was a better prospect than Jackson Jr., but it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Grizzlies collect their losses and part with the 21-year-old.


Updated Knicks Playoff Odds

After their win over the San Antonio Spurs, the New York Knicks improved to 39-31, and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference behind the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat.

According to Five Thirty Eight, their chances at at making and/or winning the 2021 NBA Finals remain less than 1%. They’re the only team that’s already clinched a playoff berth with no substantial odds at either.

That number could increase if they reobtain home court going into the postseason.

New York’s currently got a four-game lead over the seventh seed Boston Celtics and a six-game lead over the eighth seed Charlotte Hornets.

Action Network gives the Knicks just a 23.1% chance to enter the playoffs as the fourth seed, a 35.8% shot to enter as the fifth seed, and a 41.1% chance to land in as the sixth seed.

Tankathon.com has New York’s remaining schedule as only the 17th toughest in the entire NBA.

Two games to go.

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