Southwest Notes: Morant, Mavericks, Doncic, Silas

Ja Morant watched Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. raise their play to another level during his suspension, but the Grizzlies still need Morant to take over games in clutch time, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Cole notes that when Morant returned to the team, he talked to coach Taylor Jenkins about how he could alter his game so he wouldn’t take anything away from Bane and Jackson.

Morant is averaging 22.5 points and 7.3 assists since he resumed playing while shooting 43% from the floor and 20% from three-point range. Cole points out that all those numbers are below Morant’s averages for the season and observes that his tendency to overdribble may come from trying to figure out his new role in the offense.

“For me, it’s getting used to pretty much not being the main option,” Morant said. “Just finding my spots. We got Jaren and Des who have took over that role for us. For me, just getting them the ball and then when I get my chance, just take it.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks‘ postseason hopes are in jeopardy after Sunday’s loss in Atlanta wrapped up a 1-4 road trip, notes Eddie Sefko of At 37-42, Dallas is a game behind the 10th-place Thunder and will need some help to reach the play-in tournament. “We know the situation we’re in,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’re playing catch-up. And we got to find a way to win. Right now, we’re coming up short. We need to win games and unfortunately we’re not winning right now.”
  • The Mavericks may have larger concerns in the offseason because their franchise player, Luka Doncic, appears so “despondent,” Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated says in a podcast with Chris Mannix (video link). Doncic hasn’t jelled with Kyrie Irving since he was acquired in February, and Dallas faces the unpleasant choice of giving Irving a huge contract in free agency or having Doncic play next season with a below-average roster.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic addresses the Rockets‘ coaching situation, suggesting it’s not certain that Stephen Silas will be replaced after the season ends. He says it’s possible Silas will be brought back for another year with more veterans on the roster, although the front office will explore other options such as Ime Udoka, Frank Vogel or Nick Nurse if he becomes available.
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