The Memphis Grizzlies were at the top of the Western Conference not that long ago, highlighting the parity that's descended on the superior conference in the NBA today. But they've lost eight of their last 10, and in a team meeting after Wednesday night's 101-94 loss to the visiting Pistons, it turned physical between teammates, according to the Athletic's Shams Charania.
A source tells Charania that Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi—former teammates on the Kings—had "an altercation," during the team meeting:
Memphis coaches and players gathered for a team meeting in the locker room after the game, questioning each other about their effort and what each can do to improve, league sources said.
The discussion then turned toward the bench players and a perceived lack of enthusiasm from the unit, when Casspi became vocal in his defense, sources said. Temple and Casspi exchanged words and had a physical exchange before they were separated, according to those sources.
The meeting continued after the physical incident occurred, and coach J.B. Bickerstaff kept everything under wraps when he addressed the media 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game. "A conversation that needed to be had that will stay between those of us that were in that locker room," Bickerstaff said after the game. When the locker room was opened to the media, only team leaders Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol remained.
"Physical altercations" happen all the time in NBA locker rooms and elsewhere. They're not usually revealed because teams successfully keep the happenings from the public's view. It's to be expected in the intense world of professional sports, where millions can be on the line and young players haven't learned to avoid coming to blows when they disagree. The Grizz haven't been winning, losing their last three, which can wear on players; Frayed nerves can catalyze a fight.
However, these former teammates should have known better. Casspi, 32, is in his tenth NBA season and joined the Grizzlies in the offseason after getting waived by the Warriors in April last year. Temple, 30, was traded from the Kings to the Grizzlies in the offseason and—along with Marc Gasol—has started all 37 games for team, averaging 10.4 points per game in that span.