Update, Friday, 4/28 — Ahead of Lakers vs. Grizzlies Game 6, Memphis announced that veteran guard Luke Kennard would be out for the game with what they are still only calling shoulder soreness.
Kennard was previously announced to be a gametime decision, and his absence will cost Memphis their most reliable shooter in the series, and likely force the team to give even more minutes to starter Dillon Brooks on the wing.
The Lakers and Grizzlies tip-off at 7:30 p.m PT in Los Angeles. Previous updates follow.
Prior to the Grizzlies’ Game 6 matchup with the Lakers on Friday, the assembled media was able to get a few updates on injured Memphis sharpshooter Luke Kennard, who could not finish Game 5 after sustaining a shoulder injury.
Less than two hours ahead of the game, Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins said that Kennard would be a gametime decision, per Silver Screen and Roll’s own Cooper Halpern:
Taylor Jenkins said Luke Kennard is a game time decision with the shooting side shoulder injury— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) April 29, 2023
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN and Drew Hill of The Daily Memphian — who were at Memphis’ shootaround earlier in the day — Kennard was not doing much during the part of the workout that the media witnessed:
Grizzlies wing Luke Kennard has not taken a shot or really even moved that injured left shoulder since media has been allowed into shootaround. He’s listed as questionable for Game 6 tonight.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 28, 2023
Luke Kennard is present at shootaround but has not attempted a single shot in view of the media. Rebounding for teammates.— Drew Hill (@DrewHill_DM) April 28, 2023
Nope. https://t.co/hKqzCXNzJX— Drew Hill (@DrewHill_DM) April 28, 2023
Kennard is left-handed.
Hill added that teammate Xavier Tillman did not paint an optimistic picture on Kennard’s availability:
Make of that what you will, but it doesn’t sound exactly optimistic, in my opinion.— Drew Hill (@DrewHill_DM) April 28, 2023
The Grizzlies are officially listing Kennard on the injury report as questionable for Friday’s Game 6 with what they are only calling “left shoulder soreness.”
.@memgrizz status report, First Round Game 6 at @Lakers:— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) April 28, 2023
Luke Kennard - LT Shoulder Soreness
Steven Adams - RT Knee PCL Sprain
Brandon Clarke - LT Achilles Tear
Jake LaRavia - RT Calf Soreness
While every situation is different, the Grizzlies did list Ja Morant as questionable ahead of both Game 2, in which he sat out, and in Game 3, in which he did eventually play. The questionable designation leaves a lot to be interpreted.
Basically, we’re not any closer to knowing whether Kennard will play in Friday’s Game 6. The left shoulder is not an injury he has dealt with since joining Memphis or really at any point in his recent NBA career, so it’s not necessarily a nagging injury.
What we do know is that the Grizzlies have not won any of the three games Kennard did not play this regular season. His importance as a shooter can’t be overstated for a Memphis team that features him and Tyus Jones as the only above-average 3-point shooters this season.
And with Jones mired in an ugly shooting slump and connecting on just two of his 17 long-range efforts this season, losing Kennard would drastically change things for the Grizzlies. Add in Dillon Brooks’ woeful shooting so far and the Grizzlies could be in a bad place if Kennard can’t suit up or isn’t 100% on Friday.
Original story follows.
The Lakers were wallopped by the Grizzlies in Game 5 on Wednesday with Luke Kennard playing a big role in the victory over the Lakers. The sharpshooting guard didn’t have a gaudy night statistically, but alongside backcourt mate Desmond Bane, Memphis went back to a familiar pairing that helped them to a win in a do-or-die game.
However, Kennard only saw 17 minutes of action after exiting the game with a shoulder injury. Kennard stayed on the bench for the remainder of the game, due at least partially to the Lakers never getting within single digits.
Luke Kennard (left shoulder) is doubtful to return.— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) April 27, 2023
Luke Kennard is back on the bench with his left shoulder iced/wrapped— Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA) April 27, 2023
After the game, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins discussed Kennard’s injury and his status moving forward.
Also on Kennard’s status: while it’s “TBD” Jenkins used the term “stinger” — not a medical expert but that’s good for the optics going forward— Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA) April 27, 2023
Taylor Jenkins says Luke Kennard may have gotten cracked on a screen, still “TBD,” but was in good spirits— Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA) April 27, 2023
Kennard has a lot of value for the Grizzlies, most of which being one of the league’s best 3-point shooters. Specifically on Wednesday, Kennard was the antidote to Dillon Brooks’ horrid shooting. With Kennard on the floor, the Lakers have to defend all five players and opens up the floor for the Grizzlies offense.
Not having him available would be a huge blow to the Grizzlies, specifically as they continue to face elimination games.
For now, his status for the game is entirely up in the air. Being doubtful to return isn’t an encouraging sign, but Jenkins referring to it as a “stinger” is the same phrasing that was used for Anthony Davis’ shoulder injury in Game 1 that he returned at halftime from.
As we learn more about Kennard’s status, we’ll continue to update this story with the latest information so be sure to continue checking back.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.