Memphis Grizzlies Center Steven Adams to Miss Entire Season

Posted on: October 23, 2023, 10:28h. 

Last updated on: October 23, 2023, 10:08h.

The NBA season has yet to tip off, and we already have the first major casualty. Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams will miss the entire season while recovering from surgery to fix a lingering right knee injury.

Grizzlies Steven Adams
Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams will miss the entire season due to a PCL injury. (Image: USA Today Sports)

Adams, 30, missed 40 games in the second half of last season with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in his right knee. He didn’t undergo surgery at the time.

During the preseason, Adams appeared in two games but didn’t return to his old form. The Grizzlies and Adams determined knee surgery is the best path forward.

A non-operative rehabilitation did not resolve ongoing knee instability,” said the Grizzlies in an official statement.

After losing Adams, the Grizzlies will begin the new season without two key starters from last year. Point guard Ja Morant will miss the first 25 games of the season while he serves a suspension for brandishing a firearm on social media.

In the offseason, the Grizzlies acquired veteran point guard Marcus Smart from the Boston Celtics. They added Smart in a three-team trade with the Washington Wizards that sent center Kristaps Porzingis to the Celtics.

Smart, a former Defensive Player of the Year, will hold down point guard duties until Morant returns.

Grizzlies Seek Third-Straight Division Title

Despite Morant’s off-the-court drama and injuries to frontline players like Adams and Clarke, the Grizzlies secured the #2 seed in the Western Conference last season with a 51-31 record. The Grizzlies made an early playoff exit when they were upset by the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the first round.

The Grizzlies have a win total of 45.5 over/under games this season, mostly because of Morant’s 25-game suspension.

Oddsmakers have faith that the Grizzlies will qualify for the postseason. They have -220 odds to make the playoffs and +170 odds to miss the playoffs.

The Grizzlies are +3000 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship. They’re +1400 odds to win the Western Conference title and seventh on the futures board at DraftKings.

The Grizzles are seeking a third-straight division title, and they’re a marginal favorite to win the Southwest Division at +170 odds. They’re slightly ahead of the Dallas Mavericks at +190 odds and the New Orleans Pelicans at +200. The Houston Rockets (+3500) and San Antonio Spurs (+5500) are long shots to win the division.

The Spurs are the longest shot on the board to win the Southwest Division, even though there’s significant hype around the #1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama.

Adams Out, Tillman Next Man Up

The Grizzlies thought Adams would sit out a few weeks with a PCL sprain when he initially sustained a knee injury in January. He missed the remainder of the season and didn’t suit up in the postseason.

At the time of his injury, Adams led the Grizzlies in rebounding. He was the top offensive rebounder (5.1 per game) in the NBA and was ranked #4 overall in the league in total rebounds (11.5). He also averaged 9.6 points and 2.3 assists per game.

Adams was the Grizzlies’ most valuable screener in pick-and-roll plays, which he often ran with guards Morant and Desmond Bane.

Brandon Clarke filled in for Adams last season until he tore his Achilles in March. The Grizzlies don’t have a timetable for Clarke’s return. He is expected to miss most of this upcoming season.

Head coach Taylor Jenkins will start Xavier Tillman at center, and Santi Aldama is currently his backup.

Tillman is a former standout from Michigan State and an early second-round pick from the 2020 NBA Draft. Tillman started 43 times over the last three seasons, including 29 games last year. He averaged 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in 19.3 minutes of action.

Aldama, a first-round draft pick from Loyola Maryland in the 2021 NBA Draft, started 20 games last season. Aldama averaged 9.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, shooting 35.3% from 3-point range.

The Grizzlies also have forwards Kenneth Lofton (5.0 points, 2.1 rebounds), Jr., and David Roddy (6.7 points, 2.8 rebounds) listed on the depth chart at center.