The Memphis Grizzlies came into Monday night’s trip to Dallas tied with the Sacramento Kings for second in the Western Conference with 16 games remaining in the season. It has been yet another impressive season for the young Grizzlies, but while typically there’d be excitement and buzz about Memphis being a contender as the playoffs near, the conversation instead is one of uncertainty due to the absence of Ja Morant.
Morant is away from the Grizzlies following a string of alleged incidents involving he and those around him, culminating in a video posted from a strip club in Denver in which he flashed a gun to the camera. That led to an ongoing NBA investigation and his continued absence from the Grizzlies, which is, at this point, indefinite. While Morant won’t be facing any legal trouble for the video, the league still has plenty of questions and the optics of it all, particularly coming shortly after a number of off-court incidents came to light, are not good for Morant or the Grizzlies.
While Memphis played the Mavericks on Monday, word emerged from Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon that Morant was in Florida and had entered a counseling program, as he looks to get his life back on track as one of the NBA’s rising stars.
Reporting with @ESPN_MacMahon: Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has entered a counseling program in Florida and there remains no timetable for his return to active play.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 13, 2023
Morant has been seeking assistance for what he described in a statement as a need “to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being,” and that’s taken him out of Memphis on a leave from the team, sources said.
Prior to the game, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins was asked about Morant’s possible return later this week, as the last firm update from Memphis said he would miss four more games following their trip to Los Angeles. Jenkins did not offer much beyond continuing to say there’s internal dialogue between the team, Morant, and the NBA, and that Ja has been “engaged with the process.”
Taylor Jenkins on if Ja Morant returns Fri: “There are a lot of internal dialogues going on and obviously there’s still things going on at the league level that we’re in communication with. Ja’s fully engaged in this process and ready for whatever comes next after these 2 games.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 13, 2023
Jenkins and the Grizzlies have not laid out publicly what the expectations are of Morant before he can return to the team, and as such we don’t know if the program he’s entered is part of a the team’s plan for him or something he’s seeking out on his own. Whatever the case, the hope of everyone around the league is that one of the budding faces of the NBA can get back to playing basketball at an elite level without some of the off-court distractions and incidents that have seemingly mounted around him.