King Ja Returns: Can Morant Save the Grizzlies’ Season After 25-Game Suspension?

King Ja Returns: Can Morant Save the Grizzlies’ Season After 25-Game Suspension?

After completing his 25-game suspension, the star player of the Memphis Grizzlies, Ja Morant, made a triumphant return to the starting lineup during his season debut on Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Coach Taylor Jenkins expressed his enthusiasm pregame, stating, “He’s fired up. He’s put in a lot of work since the beginning of the season, being around the team as much as possible. Now, at Game 26, he gets this opportunity. I’m super excited to see him go out there, have fun, and build chemistry with his teammates. That’s what he and I have talked about – putting in the work, going out there, having fun, and enjoying the opportunity to be back on the floor.”

During Morant’s absence, the Grizzlies struggled with a record of 6-19. The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, had imposed a 25-game suspension on Morant after he displayed a firearm in an Instagram Live video in May, just two weeks after Memphis was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. It’s worth noting that Morant had previously served an eight-game suspension last season for a similar incident in March.

With Morant’s return, the Grizzlies are eager to turn the tide and make a strong comeback on the court. “King Ja Returns” signifies not just a player’s comeback but a resurgence of the team’s spirit and competitiveness.

Following Morant’s immediate return from suspension last season, he came off the bench, but the circumstances were notably different. During the nine games he missed, the Grizzlies managed a 6-3 record, even with fill-in starting point guard Tyus Jones, who performed admirably. However, Jones was traded to the Washington Wizards in the offseason as part of a three-team deal, bringing in guard Marcus Smart in exchange. Unfortunately, Smart has been sidelined since November 14 due to a sprained left foot. Another offseason acquisition, veteran point guard Derrick Rose, is also unavailable on Tuesday night due to a hamstring strain. Jacob Gilyard, on a two-way contract, has started eight games in Morant’s absence, including Monday night’s lopsided loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Grizzlies currently face challenges with the league’s last-ranked offense, averaging 105.9 points per 100 possessions without Morant. Notably, Morant led Memphis with an impressive 26.2 points and 8.1 assists per game last season.

Coach Jenkins expressed his expectations for Morant’s return, stating, “I just want him to play the standard that we’ve been talking about. I want him to lean into his teammates, understand how he can help them, and how they can help him as well. Go out there and be a leader for us on the offensive side of the floor.” As Morant steps back onto the court, the Grizzlies are hopeful that “King Ja Returns” will not only boost their offensive performance but also provide the leadership needed for a turnaround in their season.

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Emily Johnson

Meet Emily Johnson, a rising star in the world of news reporting. Armed with a Communications degree from Harvard University, Emily's writing is a perfect blend of creativity and fact-based journalism. She specializes in human-interest stories, bringing the personal touch that makes every story relatable. Whether it's heartwarming tales or societal issues, Emily is your guide to the trending news you won't want to miss.

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