Southwest Notes: Morant, Doncic, Lewis, Pelicans

When the Grizzlies announced over the weekend that Ja Morant would miss games against the Clippers and Lakers, they made it clear that his absence could extend beyond those two contests. Now that Morant has sat out those two games, the timeline for his return is unclear, but it doesn’t sound like head coach Taylor Jenkins is counting on having him back in the starting lineup on Thursday vs. Golden State.

Jenkins said on Tuesday that Morant is “healing and figuring things out” and that his absence is a “day-to-day process,” according to Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“If everyone expects something to change overnight, we’ve got to be due diligence and respectful on that. We’re talking about Ja being in a better place personally and also professionally,” Jenkins said. “To put a timetable on it, I think, is disrespectful in my opinion. We want to make sure he’s in a great place for himself but as a responsible teammate here.”

Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones, who has replaced Morant in the starting lineup over the last two games, referred to the situation as “unique” and admitted that “no one knows exactly how to handle” it, but said Morant’s teammates are there for him (Twitter link via Mark Medina of

“We just care for our brother,” Jones said. “We want the best for him and hope he’s in a great place physically and mentally. That’s not going to change. Basketball always comes second. Everyone in here is human. We’ll continue to be there for him.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic ranks third in the NBA in technical fouls with 14, meaning he’ll face an automatic one-game suspension if he receives two more techs before the end of the regular season. As Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News writes, Doncic’s high rate of technical fouls – and the possibility of a suspension – is more concerning this year than it was last season due to how tenuous the team’s spot in the playoff race is.
  • Pelicans guard Kira Lewis, who returned from an ACL tear earlier this season, said this week that he feels like his “burst is back,” per Christian Clark of Lewis still doesn’t have much of a role in New Orleans’ backcourt, but had one of his best nights of the season last Friday, scoring nine points in 10 minutes against Golden State.
  • The Pelicans have lost 17 of their last 22 games, and while their slide in standings is concerning on its own, the way they’re losing games has to be even more troubling for the organization, according to William Guillory of The Athletic, who says the team has often looked “lackadaisical” and “unfocused.” New Orleans entered the new year in January as the No. 2 seed in the West but now finds itself in a three-way tie for the No. 10 spot.
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