After completing his eight-game NBA ban, guard Ja Morant, a two-time All-Star, can return to the Memphis Grizzlies.
While it is unknown precisely when he will play, he is anticipated to be on the bench Monday night when Memphis plays home to Dallas (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV). But he may not play until Wednesday at the earliest. Morant will not play against the Mavericks as part of a “Return to Competition Reconditioning,” according to an announcement by the Grizzlies on Sunday.
In addition, the Mavericks won’t have one of its key players available for Monday’s game since Luka Doncic won’t be playing because of an injury. The Dallas Mavericks confirmed on Monday that Doncic would not play in the game because he suffers from a left thigh strain. But, his other star backcourt partner Kyrie Irving is uncertain to play since he is experiencing right foot pain.
The Grizzlies know that Morant has been training to prepare for this opportunity. After two consecutive victories, Memphis had the day off on Sunday, and head coach Taylor Jenkins said that he would like Ja Morant to practice or at least take part in a shootaround before being allowed to play in a game.
On Saturday night, before the Grizzlies’ victory against the Golden State Warriors 133-119, Jenkins said, “We’ll see when he comes back in the team atmosphere.” We guess that he won’t be available until Monday at the earliest. On Wednesday, when we are a step or two closer, we will cross the bridge.
Wednesday will be the start of two straight games that the Memphis Grizzlies will play against the Houston Rockets at their home arena.
The Memphis Grizzlies went 5-3 without Morant, who first parted ways with the organization on March 4, only a few hours after he live-streamed himself on Instagram showing a pistol at a strip club in Colorado after a game against the Denver Nuggets. Without Morant, the Grizzlies went 5-3. On March 8, the Grizzlies announced that Morant would continue to miss basketball action for four more games.
Before the NBA issued Morant’s sentence on March 15, which included the six games he had already missed, the player had a meeting in New York with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
The inquiry conducted by the league determined that Morant was “carrying a handgun in an inebriated condition.” Still, they could not verify that Morant possessed the pistol or that he exhibited it for over a short time. In addition, the National Basketball Association did not discover that Morant carried the firearm with him on Memphis’ aircraft to Denver or held the gun at any NBA facility where he was a guest.
After investigating, the law enforcement officials in Colorado concluded that there was no basis for filing criminal charges against Morant after looking into the events that transpired around the video.
In an interview with ESPN on March 15, Morant said that the pistol was not his but accepted full responsibility for his conduct regardless of who was holding it.
Yet the event at the strip club wasn’t Morant’s first act that had many raise their eyebrows. Even before the incident that occurred on March 4, the Grizzlies had been having conversations with Morant about his off-court behavior.
Morant said in an interview with ESPN that he can “see the picture that I built over myself with my recent blunders.” “But in the future, I’m going to show people who Ja is, what I’m about, and I’m going to rewrite this narrative that everybody received,” she said.
Morant, whose suspension cost him $669,000 in salary and possibly a chance to max out the five-year contract he signed last July by making the All-NBA team, must also continue working on himself outside of the context of basketball. The All-NBA team would have allowed him to extend his contract another year.
Morant said that he participated in therapy when he was suspended.
“He would most likely be the first one to inform you that ‘Nothing is going to change suddenly overnight.'” Jenkins stated, “I’m going to learn and develop, but I’m going to acquire the skills and ways to accomplish that personally and professionally.” “I will obtain the skills and methods to achieve that.”
The Grizzlies are delighted with the development that Morant, now 23 years old, has shown on the floor. After his selection by Memphis as the second overall choice in the 2019 NBA Draft, he was awarded the title of NBA Rookie of the Year in 2020. Moreover, he was recognized as the Kia Most Improved Player in 2018.
This season, he has recorded six triple-doubles and is now ranked ninth in league with a scoring average of 27.1.
At this point, he is joining a Memphis squad that is in the thick of a contentious playoff race. The Grizzlies, who were in second place in the Western Conference before the event that occurred on March 4, are now tied with the Sacramento Kings and are four games behind the Denver Nuggets with 12 games yet to play.
Jenkins said he and his staff need to speak with the medical team to understand Morant’s current physical condition better. Before putting the guard back into the game, they need to determine whether or not they will be able to have a practice beforehand.
The head coach knows that Morant will be “chomping at the bit” to reunite with his teammates, but the Grizzlies already have a plan for when he gets back.
According to Jenkins, everything is predicated on what is happening in Morant’s mind and emotions.
The coach said, “He’s doing an excellent job of identifying the improvements he’s making and needs to continue to make.“