JaMychal Green left behind in Memphis a very pregnant girlfriend. So did Nikola Mirotic, who got dealt for the second time in his career in February, moving from New Orleans to Milwaukee. “It was my family. Maybe it I was living alone, it’d be easier,” Mirotic said. “You grab the basic stuff and you move on. But I’m a married guy. My wife is pregnant. We have a son, 4 years old. It’s our life and we all have to move.” It meant getting special permission from his wife’s doctor in New Orleans for her to travel. It meant finding a new doctor in Milwaukee, a new hospital, a new doula, a new birth plan. “Everything changed,” Mirotic said.
There are plenty of issues not covered under the CBA that are left to the players. For players who live alone, who takes over the old lease? Who collects the mail? Justin Holiday is taking care of both for Temple, his former Memphis teammate. “There’s some level of, ‘Well, why should we be sympathetic; they’re so well compensated?’” Michelle Roberts said. “I’m not denying that they’re well compensated, but that’s not to deny that to be traded that way is not insignificant. Let’s be selfish, it might have an impact on your performance. There’s every reason to make that transition as painless as possible.”
The Grizzlies are not just dipping a toe in with Caboclo. They are committed to seeing what he can provide at the NBA level. Caboclo received another 10-day contract on Feb. 3 and, when it expired on Feb. 13, the Grizzlies signed him to a multi-year deal. (Caboclo’s deal has an early trigger date for a $300,000 guarantee in July but is otherwise non-guaranteed for 2019-20.) They are invested. “Every opportunity, every experience he gets is a good one for him,” J.B. Bickertsaff said. “It was important to us that we got him on the floor. That was the reason why we signed him. We didn’t sign him as a project, so to speak, we signed him because we were looking for somebody we thought could help contribute. He’s been able to do that. Obviously, you’ve gotta got through some of those bumps and bruises and you’ve gotta get that experience of playing, but if you keep playing in the G League, you never get that experience. So he’s gotta get the opportunity, and he’s taken advantage of it.”
Storyline: Bruno Caboclo Free Agency
At the trade deadline, the Raptors flipped him to the Sacramento Kings for Malachi Richardson in a move aimed more at avoiding the luxury tax than improving the roster. There was plenty to learn from the experiment and optimism that Caboclo could still succeed elsewhere, it just wasn’t going to happen with the Raptors. “It was difficult for us because I just thought it was time,” president Masai Ujiri said. “We started the right process a little late, which is something we failed at but I think we’ll learn from. At some point, I think there needed to be some separation where he goes and learns something different somewhere else.
His lone start came March 8 against the Jazz, when head coach J.B. Bickerstaff used him and Jonas Valanciunas to counter Utah’s frontcourt tandem of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. It was his first start since Feb. 4, 2017. Yet, starting his first game in more than two seasons brought him no additional joy. “That’s not what it’s about for me right now,” Noah said. “Right now I’m just enjoying this. The chemistry is good, it’s fun to play like that. The camaraderie, the ball movement, guys are playing for each other. We’re having fun. And especially in the NBA, it’s rare. There’s teams that win big and don’t have fun because of expectations, the ball only reaching certain people’s hands. I think a lot of people are eating.”