Ja Morant has at least one box to check before he can return to the Memphis Grizzlies from his 25-game suspension: a conversation with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
The NBA suspended Morant without pay in June for brandishing a handgun in a viral video for the second time, and he is eligible to return Dec. 19 in New Orleans.
First will come that talk with Silver.
“I have been monitoring the situation closely, and him,” Silver said Saturday during a news conference. “In fact, we intend to have a check-in this week directly, Ja and I.”
So far, Morant has done what the league has asked of him, Silver said.
“Folks in the league office, together with Ja and his team and the players’ association, have been in regular contact, essentially weekly,” Silver said. “There have been those checkpoints.”
“We’ve, together, laid out a program for him over the last several weeks, and to the best of my knowledge, he’s complied with everything he’s been asked to do. As I said, we’ll talk at least once this week before he comes back, and we will review the program and make sure the conditions are in place for him to be successful going forward.”
Morant has been able to travel and work out with the team under terms of the suspension. And the Grizzlies clearly have missed Morant, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a two-time All-Star with career averages of 22.4 points, 7.4 assists and 4.8 rebounds.
Without him, the Grizzlies are 6-15 and tied for the second-worst record in the Western Conference. Last season, the Grizzlies finished 51-31 but were eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said Morant, 24, will be ready to go when he’s given the all-clear to be activated.
“I’ve got to say, he’s been unbelievable with the process,” Jenkins said Friday. “I mean, it’s been a lengthy process, but in every stage and every phase of the return to play and getting the opportunities with his teammates to practice, he’s getting more of those. In the last couple of sessions, he’s been playing 5-on-5. We’ve got a schedule in the next couple of weeks to get him those opportunities, whether it’s in our practice settings, it’s outside of that, play groups like we talked about. He’s been awesome, I expect him to be full go come game 26.”
–Field Level Media