Grizzlies urged to shut down core players post All-Star break

Dec 31, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (22), guard Marcus Smart
Dec 31, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (22), guard Marcus Smart / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout 2023-24, the Memphis Grizzlies have more so resembled a MASH unit than a team that had accumulated 107 wins over the previous two years coming into the season.

The injury bug has not been kind to the franchise this year, as they've seen a large portion of their regular rotation players suffer from substantial ailments that, in turn, have kept them sidelined for significant periods of time.

Currently, coach Taylor Jenkins finds cornerstones Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Marcus Smart all inactive heading into the All-Star break, absences that, in large, have played major roles in their 20-36 season output up to this point.

Though Morant is slated to be out for the remainder of the year as he recovers from right shoulder surgery, the belief is that the latter three will be able to make their way back to the hardwood at some point past the star-studded weekend.

However, some are urging the Grizzlies to try and hold them all out for the rest of the season, as Mark Giannotto of The Commercial Appeal recently made the case that developing their younger players should be their primary goal moving forward, and their returns could hinder such an agenda.

Memphis Grizzlies urged to hold out core players for remainder of year

"They should consider the possibility that Desmond Bane and Marcus Smart have played their last games of the season. They should consider figuring out how they can do the same with Jaren Jackson Jr. They should treat the final 26 games after the NBA’s All-Star break like the mostly meaningless endeavor that they’ve become, where finding hidden gems and developing the young pieces around their core are about the only motivation left."

Mark Giannotto

While Giannotto would follow up this stance by noting "Some will read that and cringe," in many ways this idea could stand to benefit the Grizzlies in more ways than not.

Boasting the seventh-worst record in the entire league, Memphis currently has the odds of landing a top-flight lottery pick in this June's draft.

Bringing back their stars for the final 26 games would not only increase their chances of coming across a lesser-value selection but, frankly, put them in harm's way of sustaining unnecessary injuries in the final stages of a lost season.

On top of this, getting the likes of Bane, Jackson, and Smart all back would immediately infringe upon the roles and vital minutes distributions being shelled out to some of the team's younger and highly promising raw talents.

We've already witnessed how many players have benefited from these increased opportunities, with Vince Williams Jr. being selected as a Rising Stars Challenge participant and GG Jackson breaking records previously owned by league legends.

The Grizzlies aren't in a position to vie for a playoff berth anyway, so, as Giannotto argues, so what good would it do to take these incredibly important developmental opportunities away, with this, why bother rushing to bring back their core players if they don't have to?