Memphis Grizzlies swingman Quincy Pondexter suffered a "tarsal narvicular stress fracture in his right foot" during a Saturday night loss to the Golden State Warriors, the team announced Monday. The 25-year-old guard/forward is expected to miss the remainder of the season, according to Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, dealing a major blow to an already reeling Memphis that's been beset by injuries and finds itself struggling to stay afloat in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies signed Pondexter to a four-year, $14 million contract extension before the start of the season in the hope that he'd build on a strong playoff performance to become a solid floor-spacing, perimeter-defending contributor that could help Memphis take the next step in Western contention under new head coach Dave Joerger. Instead, Pondexter faltered in the early going this season, shooting just 39.2 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from 3-point range through 15 appearances.
While he was averaging a career-high 12.5 points per 36 minutes of floor time when he went down, Memphis had also been playing far better without him on the court. The Grizzlies have been outscored by an average of 18.1 points per 100 possessions in Pondexter's minutes this year, allowing baskets at a rate that would be the league's worst over the course of the season, and have outscored opponents by 2.1 points-per-100 when he's sat, according to NBA.com's stat tool.
Despite Pondexter's shaky start to the season, his injury comes at an awful time for a Grizzlies team already playing without center Marc Gasol, who's out indefinitely with a sprained left MCL, and shooting guard Tony Allen, who has missed the last two games with a bruised right hip. (Making matters worse, big men Zach Randolph and Ed Davis have been dealing with nagging injuries, too.)
Getting Pondexter on track and productive once more figured to be an important part of providing an offensive jolt to a Memphis squad that ranks second-to-last in the NBA in 3-point percentage and 21st of 30 teams in points scored per possession this season; with him on the shelf, they'll have to continue to depend on fading veteran Tayshaun Prince, who's been roundly out-produced at the small-forward spot this year, and offseason acquisition Mike Miller, who's been as-advertised from long-range (45.2 percent from 3-point land) but who has already played nearly half as many minutes in 19 regular-season games with the Grizzlies (432) as he did in 59 contests with the Miami Heat last season (900). Given his injury history, you'd expect that pushing Miller that hard this early isn't something that Joerger and company want to continue doing.
With that in mind, Wojnarowski reports that Memphis "is bringing in several guards for workouts on Monday, including Kendall Marshall and Seth Curry out of the NBA Development League and free agents Reggie Williams and Darius Morris." All could add something, but few profile as major game-changers; at this point, though, it's an all-hands-on-deck situation for the Grizz, who find themselves in last place in the brutal Southwest Division, two games out of a playoff spot and perhaps watching the season slip away from them. Not exactly what the grit-and-grind faithful had hoped for coming off a Western Conference finals run.
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