Grizzlies’ Ja Morant back in action, coming off bench vs. Rockets

Mar 20, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (left) reacts with guard Tyus Jones (21) during a timeout during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant will return to action and come off the bench during Wednesday’s home game against the Houston Rockets.

Morant has missed the past nine games, eight due to a suspension for detrimental conduct. This will mark his first time as a reserve during his four NBA seasons.

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said Morant would play slightly over 20 minutes. He also said the two-time All-Star was on board with coming off the bench.

“This was something he brought to the table as well as had been on my mind,” Jenkins told reporters prior to the game against the Rockets. “So we collectively thought this was the best strategy, at least for the first one or two games. And then we’ll kind of re-evaluate after that.”

The Grizzlies were 6-3 during the nine games Morant missed. Tyus Jones filled in as the point guard and averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 assists, including reaching double digits in assists five times.

Morant was disciplined following his live-streaming of a video on March 4 in which the NBA said Morant “is holding a firearm in an intoxicated state” while at a club in the Denver area following a loss to the Nuggets.

He initially was held out by the Grizzlies before the NBA issued the suspension on March 15. Morant said he spent time in a Florida counseling facility during his time away from basketball.

Morant rejoined the Grizzlies on Monday, but he sat out that night’s home game against the Dallas Mavericks since his conditioning wasn’t up to par.

“Obviously we don’t have a long runway until the end of the regular season, but we want to be smart with that layoff that we’re not doing anything to jeopardize his health,” Jenkins said.

Standout shooting guard Desmond Bane said Morant has the support of his teammates.

“He’s gotta know that it’s not all on him,” Bane said. “He’s got all of us to lean on. Players, coaches, the whole organization has got his back. And I hope the whole city of Memphis does too.”

Morant leads the Grizzlies with averages of 27.1 points and 8.2 assists in 53 games this season.

–Field Level Media

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