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The Josh Jackson Saga Has Gotten Bleaker

Photo: Christian Petersen (Getty)

Josh Jackson, drafted by the Suns with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft and hailed as a do-everything wing, has not demonstrated a clear ability to do much of anything. He’s struggled with shooting, decision-making, defense, and virtually every identifiable element of basketball. After his sophomore campaign in Phoenix, he came in 85th of 92 small forwards in real plus-minus, and dead last in the NBA in win shares.

This July, the Suns tossed Jackson into a salary dump trade with the rebuilding Grizzlies. Having offloaded stars Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol, Memphis is looking at a future structured around sophomore Jaren Jackson Jr., a promising big who can switch anything and shoot from deep, and Ja Morant, the lively playmaker selected with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. The Grizzlies could afford to take a flier on Josh Jackson because they have absolutely no ambitions for the short term. But as the Athletic’s Shams Charania reported today, Jackson will not participate in the team’s training camp, and will instead begin his season in the D-League.

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The Grizzlies’ reluctance to integrate the former lottery pick might have something to do with how his offseason started. In May, the 22-year-old was arrested on charges of escape and resisting arrest after allegedly trying to enter the VIP section of a music festival in Florida. (The felony and misdemeanor charges were later dropped on acceptance of a plea deal, according to TMZ.) In June, Lorena Villela, the mother of Jackson’s then 5-month-old daughter, filed documents in family court alleging that Jackson had smoked weed in the child’s presence and that the child appeared to be high, according to the Arizona Republic. (Jackson denied these allegations through his attorney.)

The Grizzlies have until Oct. 31 to decide whether they will pick up the team option for Jackson’s 2020-21 season, the final year of his rookie deal. Given that the Grizzlies open their season on Oct. 23, and that Jackson won’t even be at training camp, it’s becoming difficult to see a future for him on this team, or in the league.

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