The already-skinny Tayshaun Prince has lost 12-15 pounds due to a stomach illness

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Tayshaun Prince, since entering the NBA in 2002, has been known as the league’s preeminent string bean; or at the very least the league’s best-contributing string bean, in the years he played before Shawn Bradley retired. Unlike a typical thin power forward or center, though, Prince’s Detroit Pistons teams never wanted him to add too much bulk, as they needed him to fly around the court and guard all comers on the perimeter.

Since becoming a Memphis Grizzly last winter, Prince has struggled – most notably in the 2013 postseason, when he shot just 35 percent from the floor while averaging just seven points in 30 minutes a game. That 15-game sample size wasn’t supposed to carry over into the 2013 exhibition season, but that glass half-full approach is getting harder and harder to work through while Pierce sits out game after game with an ongoing stomach bug.

Worse, one of the NBA’s slimmest players has lost a significant amount of weight due to the illness. From

Former University of Kentucky standout Tayshaun Prince told the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis this week that he's lost between 12 and 15 pounds because of a debilitating stomach ailment.

Prince, who played at Kentucky from 1998-2002, has missed the entire pre-season with the Memphis Grizzlies.

The 6-foot-9 sharpshooter, whose listed weight on the Grizzlies' official roster is 215 pounds, told the Commercial Appeal he’s feeling stale and weak and that he experienced abdominal pains that kept him from eating for most of the past week.

This isn’t to say that 6-9 small forwards can’t function at 200 pounds, but it’s certainly not ideal. The West is filled with lanky types, from Kevin Durant to Nic Batum to Kawhi Leonard, but if Prince isn’t used to working at that weight, his play could suffer.

Worst, NBA players just don’t put weight on during the regular season. Unless they’re excused from practices and games, no amount of caloric intake from the Cheesecake Factory can make up for the work put in during shootarounds, practices, and during games. To say nothing of personal weight training time. Prince (who has two years and nearly $15 million left on his contract) might be able to get back to 215, but it will be a struggle.

His replacement, Quincy Pondexter, hasn’t exactly struggled in Prince’s absence (8.2 points per game on 48 percent shooting in four games), but the Grizzlies are counting on him to provide depth for their (pardon the expression) thin team, not start for it.

Even Grizzlies brass appears to be as confused as we are as to Tay’s whereabouts and health. From Beale Street Bears:

I was at the game in Atlanta, right behind the Grizzlies bench. During halftime, [Grizzlies Vice President of Basketball Operations] John Hollinger was milling around and caught sight of my Fort Wayne Mad Ants T-shirt. He pointed and laughed and asked if Dwayne Ticknor had seen it and knew I was there. We chatted for a moment and, while I had him I asked: “What’s up with Tayshaun?”

He responded: “I don’t think he’s here.” while actually searching the empty halftime bench for him. He turned back into a brief staredown, and gave me a hands-in-the-pockets shrug and said: “There is no official word.” He said it twice.

Prince was spotted at the Grizzlies game on Tuesday, but there is no word on whether or not Tayshaun will be available for the Grizzlies’ season opener against San Antonio next Wednesday.

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Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!