The Grizzlies have the inside track for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
They’re in eighth place, 3.5 games up from the chasing pack. If the ninth-place team forces a play-in by getting within four games of eighth, the eighth-place team would have to win only one play-in game before the ninth-place teams win two.
But Memphis will finish the season without Justise Winslow, who never played for the Grizzlies after they got him from the Heat just prior to the trade deadline.
During Monday’s practice, Justise Winslow fell after absorbing contact during an intra-squad scrimmage. Medical evaluation revealed a hip injury, which will cause him to miss the rest of the season.
What a bummer for Winslow and Memphis. He looked like an excellent fit between point guard Ja Morant and bigs Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke.
The Grizzlies paid a substantial price for Winslow – taking on the burdensome contracts of Dion Waiters and James Johnson and surrendering Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder. Winslow was sidelined by a back injury at the time, and his health history is troubling.
Maybe he’s injury prone. Maybe this latest setback was unrelated to prior problems. But even if random, this hip injury could leave him susceptible to future injuries.
The Grizzlies are young, and Winslow is locked up another two seasons. So, hopefully he’ll get on the court with Memphis’ other top talent next year.
In the meantime, Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton could fill expanded roles. Josh Jackson might even get an opportunity.