Memphis Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke had to be helped off the court on Friday night after he sustained what appeared to be a non-contact left leg injury after shooting a free throw. Saturday, his agent told ESPN that Clarke's injury was a season-ending Achilles tear.
Clarke's fourth professional season saw an average of 10 points and 5.5 rebounds per game on 65% shooting. During his collegiate career, the Canada native played for Gonzaga and San Jose State before he was drafted 21st overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2019 NBA Draft. He was immediately traded to the Grizzlies and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2020. In October, he and Memphis agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract extension.
The 26-year-old's injury occurred just before the end of the first quarter of a loss to the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena, after he missed a free throw and took a step back with his left leg. After planting his leg behind him, Clarke recoiled and yelled out in pain. He had to be helped off the court and into the locker room without putting any weight on his leg.
The Grizzlies have taken multiple hits recently that all seemed to come to a head Saturday.
Dillon Brooks was issued a one-game suspension after an on-court altercation with Donovan Mitchell during a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in February. On Friday, he entered the team's loss to the Denver Nuggets with 15 technical fouls, tied for the NBA lead. He was called for a technical foul with 5:45 remaining in the fourth quarter and the league announced his one-game suspension Saturday. He will miss a matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
All-Star guard Ja Morant has been implicated in multiple off-court allegations that were recently detailed in a Washington Post report. On the night of Clarke's injury, which was reported to be "extremely tough" and "emotional" for the team, Morant shared his time at a nightclub via Instagram Live videos that appeared to feature him posing with a gun.
All of this comes as the NBA's playoff picture continues to develop. With instability among its young core, the Grizzlies will attempt to hold onto the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Sacramento Kings are just one game behind Memphis with 20 games remaining in the regular season.