The Grizzlies announced Saturday that Ja Morant will be away from the team for at least two games, but his absence could last much longer than that, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Speaking to reporters before Sunday night’s contest in Los Angeles, coach Taylor Jenkins said there’s no set length for how long the embattled point guard will be out of action.
“We have said that it’s going to be at least these two games,” Jenkins said. “I mean, this is going be an ongoing healing process. … It’s really not a timetable situation.”
Morant’s latest controversy began with an Instagram Live video that appears to show him waiving a gun around while shirtless at a strip club at 5:19 am Saturday. It’s the latest in a string of incidents that have caused many to question Morant’s off-the-court behavior.
Morant issued an apology for the video Saturday afternoon while announcing that he was going to “take some time away to get help.” He also deactivated his Instagram and Twitter accounts, which he had been using frequently to promote his business interests and interact with fans.
“We’re taking this very seriously,” Jenkins said. “There’s a supportive element for someone that’s got to get better and needs some help. But then there’s also accountability to the team that we’ve got to stand for.
“Obviously nationwide, leaguewide, there’s been a lot of attention on gun violence, and so for us, that’s the stance that we’ve taken about how we can support Ja throughout this growth opportunity. It’s a learning opportunity, and hopefully we can be better from it.”
On Sunday, the Grizzlies played their first game since Morant stepped away, squandering a big fourth quarter lead in a loss to the Clippers. Afterward, players expressed support for their teammate, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
“We’re wrapping our arms around him and showing him our love,” said Desmond Bane, who scored 30 points Sunday and took over more ball-handling responsibilities with Morant not in the lineup. “Whenever he is ready to come back, we’ll welcome him with open arms.”
Jenkins is also counting on Jaren Jackson Jr. to help make up for Morant’s lost production, Cole adds. The All-Star big man took 18 shots Sunday and finished with 24 points.
“I’m happy for whatever he decides to do,” Jackson said. “I trust his judgment. He’s doing what’s best for him. He’s going to come back and take over the league again.”