Departed veteran deemed ‘biggest loss’ for Grizzlies this offseason

Tyus Jones, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Tyus Jones, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The Memphis Grizzlies have endured a slew of shakeups to their rotation this offseason what with the arrival of Marcus Smart and Josh Christopher via trade and Derrick Rose by free agency.

However, in order for GM Zach Kleiman to have been able to execute such transactions, many outbound moving pieces were required, and, of all the talents who departed this summer, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz believes sending veteran guard Tyus Jones to the Washington Wizards as a part of the Smart deal could prove to be the club’s “biggest loss.”

"“While Smart is an upgrade over Jones, Memphis will still miss all that the 27-year-old brought to the organization.Developing into the best backup point guard in the NBA over the past four seasons with the Grizzlies, Jones was often called to step in when Morant missed time. He was a good locker room presence and playmaker who Memphis needed over and over again,” Swartz wrote."

Swartz would continue on to note that assuming Marcus Smart can find a way to stay healthy this season, “losing Jones won’t be a big deal.” However, should the guard struggle to remain on the floor (has played in less than 65 games three times over the last four years), he suggests the Grizzlies will “miss their insurance plan, one that they’ve leaned on heavily for Morant’s entire career thus far.”

Since he first arrived in Memphis back in 2019-20, Tyus Jones quickly established himself as a trusty contributor within the club’s rotation and a reliable plug-and-play starter when needed.

These last two seasons, he was utilized quite often in the latter role due to superstar Ja Morant’s health and off-court issues, as he combined for 45 total appearances within the first five lineup during this span.

2022-23 easily proved to be his best season in the association, as he posted career-best averages of 10.3 points and 5.2 assists while shooting 37.1 percent from distance.

During his 22 games filling in for Morant at the starting one spot, he would only elevate his production to even greater heights, wrapping the season with 16.4 points, 8.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.8 steals on a highly efficient 50.0 percent shooting from the field and 41.5 percent shooting from deep in such a role.

All this said, considering his proven production as a full-time starter, defensive ferocity, and, perhaps most important, his leadership abilities, the trade-off between Tyus Jones and Marcus Smart could easily prove to be well worth it for the Grizzlies, especially as they look to thrust themselves into the legitimate contender conversation this coming campaign.

However, be it due to injuries or simple nostalgia, there’s a realistic reality that Memphis loyalists will miss seeing the 27-year-old regularly out on the hardwood at FedExForum in 2023-24.

Swartz suggests there’s a possibility that head coach Taylor Jenkins will as well.