Suspension from Ja Morant: Although Grizzlies are eligible to play Monday, they won’t have a Star Guard until Wednesday

Although the Memphis Grizzlies are eligible for Monday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, the Memphis Grizzlies said Saturday that suspended star guard Ja Morant will not return to the court before Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets. The team’s coaching staff will consult with the medical staff on Morant’s status for this game.

Speaking to reporters Saturday, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said he’s confident Morant is ready to return based on conversations he’s had with him. “It all starts with what’s between here and here,” Jenkins said as he pointed to his head and then to his heart.

Morant has been officially suspended for eight games without pay for league-damaging behavior, the NBA announced March 15. The suspension stems from an Instagram Live video Morant posted showing him holding a gun after a game against the Nuggets at a Denver-area nightclub on March 3.

The suspension included the five games he missed while not on the team. During this time he spent several days in a counseling center in Florida. Morant met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on March 15.

“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” Silver said in the statement. “It also has serious implications given his huge following and influence, especially among young fans who look up to him. He has expressed sincere remorse and remorse for his behavior. Ja also made it clear to me that he learned from this incident and that he understands that his obligations and responsibilities to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court.”

Morant has been embroiled in a number of extrajudicial controversies over the past year, including:

  • Allegedly hit a teenager “12 or 13 times,” so a Washington Post report. Morant claimed he acted in self-defense. The teenager claimed Morant had a gun stuck in his pants.
  • A mall security guard said he was threatened by Morant and a number of his employees after his mother reportedly got into an argument with a clerk at a store. No arrests were made as a result of this incident.
  • In February the NBA confirmed that it was investigating a situation that occurred on January 29 in Memphis after a game against the Indiana Pacers. Members of the Indiana touring party claimed they were hit with a red laser by an SUV carrying Morant. They believed it was from a gun, but the NBA “could not confirm that an individual threatened others with a gun.”

“I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire organization for letting you down,” Morant wrote in a statement after the video was released. “I will take some time to get help and work on learning better ways to manage stress and my overall well-being.”

The Grizzlies lost their first two games without Morant but have been 4-1 since then. They are currently in a battle with the Sacramento Kings for the Western Conference No. 2 seed. The teams have identical 42-27 records, but the Kings have the tiebreaker. With the Denver Nuggets in the midst of a slump, there’s a slim chance that either Sacramento or Memphis could claim first place, but most likely they’ll be second and third seeds. Suspension from Ja Morant: Although Grizzlies are eligible to play Monday, they won’t have a Star Guard until Wednesday

Chris Estrada

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