•   
  •   
  •   

Sport Healthy Ja Morant has Grizzlies thinking deep postseason run

20:25  12 april  2022
20:25  12 april  2022 Source:   ap.org

2020 No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson makes Tigers' Opening Day roster

  2020 No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson makes Tigers' Opening Day roster Spencer Torkelson, the former No. 1 overall pick of the amateur draft, has made the Tigers' Opening Day roster.The news comes, perhaps not un-coincidentally, on the same day it was confirmed that Riley Greene, Detroit’s other top position-player prospect, will miss the start the year with a foot fracture. Greene is perhaps the more important of the two, given his defensive prominence as a center fielder.

A rested and rehabbed Ja Morant will back in the Memphis lineup for the NBA playoffs, and the All-Star guard has the young, talented Grizzlies believing they're ready to make a deep postseason run.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) handles the ball under the basket during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans onSaturday, April 9, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) handles the ball under the basket during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans onSaturday, April 9, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) jumps to shoot between New Orleans Pelicans guards Jose Alvarado (15) and CJ McCollum (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) jumps to shoot between New Orleans Pelicans guards Jose Alvarado (15) and CJ McCollum (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Morant sat out the regular season finale on Sunday, but returned the night before after missing nine games with a sore right knee.

White Sox ace Lance Lynn out four weeks with torn knee tendon

  White Sox ace Lance Lynn out four weeks with torn knee tendon Lynn injured the knee on Saturday in what was supposed to be his final start of spring training ahead of the regular season. The 10-year veteran was in the running to start on Opening Day for the White Sox, which now needed to explore other options. Manager Tony La Russa addressed the situation on Sunday. "All morning long we've been talking about 'what ifs' and how we would cover and I just think that the priority is going to be the series you are playing," La Russa told the Chicago Sun-Times. "And an opportunity to win the game. It might rain tomorrow, snow the next day.

“I felt like I needed a game or two to get my legs back under me, to get the game-type feel,” Morant said.

It appears he has his legs back under him.

Morant scored 21 points in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans that tied Memphis' franchise record for victories in a season at 56. Then along with the other Grizzlies' starters, he sat out the regular season finale.

It has been a steady ascension for Morant, who uplifts the Grizzlies with each step he takes.

The overall No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA draft and 2020 rookie of the year, Morant helped end Memphis’ playoff drought in 2021 as the Grizzlies played their way to the No. 8 seed.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) handles the ball between New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham, left, center Willy Hernangomez (9) and guard CJ McCollum (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) handles the ball between New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham, left, center Willy Hernangomez (9) and guard CJ McCollum (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Now with resume worthy of MVP consideration, he has led Memphis to its highest seed ever at No. 2 in the West with the NBA's second-best record of 56-26. The Grizzlies believe they are ready to take the next step, reaching the playoffs is no longer good enough for this team.

Ryan Pressly, Astros agree to two-year, $30M extension

  Ryan Pressly, Astros agree to two-year, $30M extension The Astros and reliever Ryan Pressly are in agreement on a two-year, $30M extension.This is the second time in Pressly’s career where he has signed an extension with the Astros while one year away from free agency. In March of 2019, the two sides agreed to a two-year extension that came with a $17.5M guarantee, covering the 2020 and 2021 campaigns, along with a $10M vesting option for 2022. Pressly needed to make 60 appearances in each of the 2020 and 2021 campaigns in order to vest the option, which he did. (In the shortened 2020 campaigns, all thresholds of this kind were prorated by 2.7, meaning Pressly’s 23 games were counted as just over 62 appearances.

Memphis starts its quest Saturday hosting either Minnesota or the Los Angeles Clippers, not that the opponent matters to Morant.

“I’m focused on us,” the third-year guard out of Murray State said. "Getting better during that week stretch and just being ready to go out there and play the first two games here at home. No matter who it is, we go into the game's the same way. It’s going to be different coverages, depending on the team, but our play style never changes.”

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) shoots next to New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) shoots next to New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

This franchise was swept in the 2013 Western Conference finals, which was the only time it got past the second round.

Morant's value to the Grizzlies goes beyond mere stats.

Joey Votto planning to fly halfway around world for first tattoo

  Joey Votto planning to fly halfway around world for first tattoo Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has always been a bit eccentric, but his routine for getting his first tattoo is something even by his standards. © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto Votto explained his procedure to ESPN, saying he has an artist in mind to do the tattoo. In order to get it done, he’s planning to fly to Brazil in the offseason and spend a day with the artist in order to determine the appropriate tattoo to get.

Head cheerleader when on the bench, he brings everyone to their feet by dunking over 7-footers, throwing down lobs or dishing the ball off to a teammate for an easy basket.

Even his high-flying blocks on defense are must-see TV.

His own coach wants to see what Morant does next to attack with his “elite level” ball-handling skills.

“That’s what you need at this level,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. "I’m trying to follow him at times to see what’s coming next but when he does something I’m like, ‘Here we go!’ This is what he does. I know he has more in store moving forward that’s going to definitely surprise me.”

And likely opponents as well.

Morant boosted his scoring average by 8.3 points a game and improved in every statistical category this season. He averaged 27.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists in 57 games.

Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said people get so enamored watching Morant's nightly highlight-reel plays that they forget his high basketball IQ.

“His ability to understand where the reads are on the floor, teams are still going under him and he’s still able to get to the paint at such a high clip,” Mosley said. "He’s just playing at a tremendous pace, and he has the ability to get to the paint continuously without teams being able to stop him.”

Todd Helton to rejoin Rockies as special assistant to GM

  Todd Helton to rejoin Rockies as special assistant to GM Helton, a first-round pick by the Rockies in the 1995 MLB Draft, played all 17 of his major league seasons in Colorado. A five-time all-star, Helton's list of accolades is long and impressive. He's the Rockies' all-time leader in hits (2,519), doubles (592), home runs (369), RBI (1,406), walks (1,335) and runs scored (401). Helton was one of the league's best first basemen, both with the bat and the glove. He won four Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Gloves as a first baseman. In 2000, Helton won the major league batting title, leading MLB in hits (216), doubles (59), RBI (147), batting average (.

Morant's speed and fearlessness driving to the basket helped him shoot 49.3% in the paint where he averaged an NBA-high 16.8 points. He had 22 games this season scoring at least 20 points in the paint, most by a guard over the last 25 seasons according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV said he could learn from Morant on how to go attack the big men inside.

“He does a fantastic job going to his left,” Walker said. “It’s either, if he’s on the right side, he’s going to snake it or if he’s on the left side, he’s going downhill and doing what he does.”

With this ability to get to the basket, when he's making 3s San Antonio forward Doug McDermott said Morant has is almost un-guardable.

“He’s so quick,” McDermott said. "He can split ball screens and he gets everyone else involved. He’s a great player, and we’ll be seeing a lot of him in the coming years."

Having Morant healthy for the postseason is a confidence boost for the Grizzlies, even though they went 20-5 without him during the season.

“He’s the motor for our team ...," forward Brandon Clarke said. "Obviously we’re still a good, good team without him. But with Ja, we’re great.”

___

AP Freelance Writer Clay Bailey in Memphis contributed to this report.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Oakland Athletics offseason review .
The Athletics' lack of moves to reallocate the money they saved further underscores that this is a team looking at 2023 and beyond. © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Oakland Athletics manager Mark Kotsay Major league signings Jed Lowrie, 2B: One year, $850K Stephen Vogt, C: One year, $850K Total spend: $1.7M Option decisions Declined $4M club option on LHP Jake Diekman (paid $750K buyout) LHP Andrew Chafin declined $5.

usr: 1
This is interesting!