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EXCLUSIVE: Jordan Adams discusses NBA comeback attempt, Grizzlies, Marc Gasol, and more

Jordan Adams

Jordan Adams has been out of the NBA since the end of the 2015-16 NBA season, but the former UCLA and Memphis Grizzlies shooting guard is looking to make a fierce comeback.

Following a highly productive two-year tenure at UCLA where he earned a First-Team All-PAC-12 selection while averaging 16.4 points per game, Jordan Adams entered the 2014 NBA Draft where he was selected 22nd overall by the Grizzlies.

His time with the franchise turned out to be brief as he dealt with nagging injuries that began with undergoing surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee in the offseason after his rookie campaign. He continued to experience issues with his knee as he appeared in two out of the Grizzlies’ first four games of the regular season before he was sidelined due to persistent soreness in his knee.

The following January, he underwent another right knee surgery that forced him to miss the rest of the year. In June, Adams had a cartilage transplant surgery on his right knee. He was unfortunately ruled out for the entire 2016-17 season and subsequently released by the Grizzlies in October following the preseason.

He was able to latch onto the Portland Trail Blazers’ 2017 NBA Summer League team, but that didn’t land him back in the NBA. Since then, he has been working his way back physically that has seen him partake in The Basketball Tournament with the Sons of Westwood team last summer. Most recently, he played with the Syrian team, Al Wahda Damascus, for the Dubai International Tournament where he averaged 18.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists.

In February, Adams earned an opportunity to play in the G-League and a step closer toward an NBA comeback. Adams spoke exclusively to ClutchPoints to discuss his continued pursuit of a professional basketball career, his path to recovery, his time with the Grizzlies, playing with legends like Vince Carter, and much more.

Bob Garcia: First off, congrats on getting a contract with the G-League. That’s definitely big step toward getting back in the NBA.

Jordan Adams: “Thank you. Yeah, it is for sure.”

BG: What was it like playing in the Dubai International Basketball Championship tournament with the Syrian team?

JA: “It was fun getting with a group of guys that I never met and was the first time playing together. It was fun learning their games, learning their style of play, and meeting the coaches and the front office to see how they see things from their perspective.”

BG: What are the differences between playing overseas and here in the U.S.?

JA: “It’s a big difference. It was their first time in eight years traveling outside of their country so they weren’t able to play against other players other than from their country and over here we get to play against people from worldwide so I think we have an advantage in that area. I feel like those guys pick [it] up fast.”

BG: What led to you going to play in that tournament?

JA: “A lot of teams just want to see film of me playing. I have been out for two to three years, so no one really wants to take a chance on me unless they see out there playing and physically doing basketball activities.”

BG: How was it like playing against former NBA players like Lamar Odom and Quincy Douby?

JA: “I went up against Lamar Odom and Randolph Morris and those guys were tough. They brought size and NBA talent and length over there to Dubai. It was fun to get up to go against those guys who played in the NBA before.”

BG: What was your experience like playing in The Basketball Tournament with the Sons of Westwood?

JA: “It was fun. I did a UCLA-based team. It was definitely fun going back to play for the school that I attended. We came up short but it was a fun tournament.”

BG: How do you feel playing in The Basketball Tournament and in Dubai helps with your journey to get back into the NBA?

JA: “My journey is to just keep playing basketball no matter where at. Ultimately, I want to reach the highest level, which is the NBA. Until then, I am content with just playing with whatever team that wants me and helps me be able to showcase my skills and just be able to play the game that I love.”

BG: What makes it important to you to get back into the NBA?

JA: “I am willing to play in any league just because the brand of basketball that I play I feel that I can fit into any league anywhere around the world. I am just trying to stay true to myself and work on my game and I feel that will lend me in spots that I need to be.”

BG: What has the entire recovery process from the injuries taught you both physically and mentally?

JA: “I understand the business of basketball now. When I was first a rookie coming up, I thought it was only basketball I had no idea about other stuff so with that my focus will be different. My mentality will be to treat it as a job every day.”

BG: How do you feel physically now compared to when you were with the Grizzlies?

JA: “I’m healthy. I don’t feel like I was healthy when I was in Memphis. I am back healthy and I am able to play basketball now so I am in a happy place.”

BG: Are you a different player now than when you were with the Grizzlies?

JA: “I think I am probably my same self. Not physically, but I am my same self on the court playing basketball.”

BG: What can you bring to the table as a player at this point in your basketball career?

JA: “Whatever team I play on definitely toughness, scoring, defensive ability, someone who is unselfish, and a pure shooter.”

BG: What keeps you motivated to continue to play? 

JA: “Just the fact that I have been out of the game for so long and that let me know that I truly miss it. That just keeps me motivated seeing other guys play every day and play the game they love as well. That just keeps me motivated that basketball is not over for me and that I can still play in other leagues, not just the NBA or not that I will still be able to play the game that I love.”

BG: I want to switch gears a little bit here and talk about the Grizzlies. What are your thoughts about Marc Gasol being traded to the Toronto Raptors?

JA: “I don’t know what to say. I thought those guys would stick together for the rest of their careers. It had to be other issues that I just don’t know about.”

BG: What was your experience playing alongside Gasol?

JA: “He was cool. He is definitely still one of the best big men if not the best center in the NBA to this day.”

BG: What are your thoughts about Mike Conley?

JA: “I don’t look up to many people but he’s one person that I look up to in everything that he does. I just feel like he’s a great example to follow. I just love him on the court as well. There’s nothing that he can’t do.”

BG: Should Mike Conley and Marc Gasol’s jerseys be retired by the Grizzlies?

JA: “I’ll definitely say Mike Conley. It’s hard to say for Marc because of his brother and that he didn’t really finish [his career] with them. Then again, those guys led them to a lot of accomplishments. I wouldn’t be surprised.”

BG: You also had the chance to play with Vince Carter during your time with the Grizzlies. How was it playing alongside him?

JA: “Honestly, he was the one who helped me. I was honored to have him on my team, it was crazy every day seeing him. I can’t even lie, he’s definitely the best player I have ever been on a team with.”

BG: What are your thoughts on the current state of the NBA?

JA: “I haven’t been watching much, but now all of these trades it’s about to get really exciting and only get better now year by year because a lot of good guys are about to be stacked on one team. It’s definitely going to be fun to watch.”

BG: How do you feel about stacked teams with superstar talent in the NBA?

JA: “I feel if guys want to win championships then you got to do what you got to do and that’s everybody’s goal nowadays to try and win a championship. I think it’s fun, it makes it more competitive.”

BG: Are you surprised by any of the trades prior to the trade deadline aside from the Marc Gasol move?

JA: “The only one that caught me by surprise was that I didn’t think Chicago would get rid of Jabari Parker.”

BG: Where do you think you fit in with this current style of NBA that is more guard-oriented?

JA: “I haven’t played in the NBA with the new rules, but I think I would benefit on defense as well. I don’t see a lot of guys playing defense per se or lock guys down anymore. I think I would stand out in that aspect as well as scoring and just shooting. I feel like I have always been good at that no matter what level I played.”

BG: What team do you think will win the NBA title this season?

JA: “Golden State.”

BG: What team do you think will come out of the East?

JA: “That’s tough because you got Philly, Boston, and Toronto. There are a lot of good teams and you just never know in the playoffs.”

BG: Who will win the MVP award?

JA: “It’s got to be James Harden, but Paul George is behind him.”

BG: What do you think of James Harden’s current scoring streak?

JA: “It’s crazy. I don’t people realize that. He is a tough player and you can’t really touch him. Someone just has to figure out a way to guard him.”

BG: Lastly, what’s your mindset moving forward with your professional basketball career?

JA: “I am just glad to be back playing basketball so I am going to continue to try to care of my body and stay on the court as long as I can.”