When the Memphis Grizzlies made UCLA guard Jordan Adams the 22nd pick in June's draft, they got a 20-year-old player with a strong reputation but questionable athleticism. In a league where shooting guards are expected to have elite natural talents, Adams rates as less than jawdropping in those categories, in stark contrast to his college teammate Zach LaVine. However, Adams did drop 21 pounds from his previous weight to get to 209 pounds at the NBA Draft Combine, which helped enough to earn him a guaranteed contract and a spot in Memphis.
Despite that achievement, the Grizzlies have taken steps to compel Adams to keep the weight off and maximize his athletic potential. According to contract guru Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com, the franchise put a body fat percentage incentive in Adams's rookie deal (via EOB):
Deeks went on to note that he could find only one previous instance of this clause. In 2006, the New Jersey Nets picked Connecticut point guard Marcus Williams with the 22nd selection in the draft amidst fears about his weight and disciplinary record. Williams, who spent last season in Russia, managed to play only 203 games over four NBA seasons (including one with Memphis). His fitness played some role in his difficulties in sticking in the league, although it wasn't such a major factor that it stands above all else in his biography. There's no real reason to think that Adams will be out of the league in five years just because of this precedent.
It's fair to wonder why any player would need this incentive in the first place, because an NBA career would seem to depend on staying in shape. Nevertheless, the Grizzlies' gesture does send an important message to Adams as he begins his career. While it's undoubtedly impressive that he was able to drop the weight in advance of the draft, it's more important that Adams consider his new body to be a fresh reality rather than a special act of preparation for a once-in-a-lifetime event. The incentive might seem unnecessary, but it at least shows Adams that the Grizzlies are invested in his committing to staying in shape. They want to be partners in this effort, not mere overseers.
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