NBA Draft: Memphis Grizzlies, Ja Morant to Take Precautions with Early Action

Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images /

The Memphis Grizzlies kept their word at the NBA Draft and selected a future star in Ja Morant. This is enough reason for them to take precautions ahead of NBA Summer League action.

The 2019 NBA Draft has come to a close. As it turns out, the Memphis Grizzlies kept their word and selected the top point guard in the class in Murray State’s Ja Morant. However, it may be a while until Grizzlies fans get to see him in game action.

As NBA Summer League action will soon take off once July arrives, Morant announced some important news in one of his many post-Draft interviews on Thursday evening. That is correct, he will not be logging any summer league minutes this year.

This is a total bummer for the fan base, especially considering how ecstatic the draft parties were in addition to all of the national buzz, praise, and recognition the Grizzlies received on Thursday night. Memphis is finally receiving respect, but Morant’s in-game professional debut will have to wait a few months.

Like it or not, this is an intelligent move by the Grizzlies. Ja may be fully healed, as evident in recent footage, but there is zero need to risk a freak injury. Memphis has been waiting so long for this opportunity, and honestly, they have never been flying this high in their existence. Now is no time to risk the franchise’s future over something as meaningless as summer league games.

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NBA Summer League serves a purpose, though. It helps complete rosters, employ some lesser-known players, and assist young prospects in making the transition to the professional level of hoops. Yet, this is not an avenue Ja Morant should step foot in. His résumé speaks for itself, and though he did not conduct a pre-Draft workout for the Grizzlies, Memphis knows what he is about and what he brings to the table. This is why they did not lose focus on selecting him at No. 2 overall from the time they first landed the high pick on May 14th.

Much like the precautions around Ja Morant, the Grizzlies should proceed with further caution around sophomore-to-be Jaren Jackson Jr. “Triple J” appeared in just 58 of 82 regular season games as a rookie due to a minor ailment, but in a lost season, Memphis played it smart by resting him. Jackson Jr. quickly proved himself in his inaugural NBA season, so it made the decision rather easy for them. Furthermore, Jaren should not be allowed to play in summer league games this year. There is nothing for him to prove.

July’s summer league slate will probably be rather boring for Grizzlies fans considering there will be no Morant or Jackson Jr. Plus, Brandon Clarke, Memphis’ No. 21 pick (acquired via trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Draft Night by way of Utah’s No. 23 pick) from Gonzaga has to play the waiting game for the team’s recent trades to be finalized. He, too, will likely sit out of summer league action.

Memphis could have been the favorite to snag an NBA Summer League title in 2019, but reality will probably offer a mediocre roster with the team’s biggest names sitting it out. That is perfectly fine because it involves meaningless games, and it only enhances the excitement for training camp and preseason action once the fall season arrives. That will be the first official look at the pairing of Ja and Jaren in live games.

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It is certainly a bummer that the wait will continue to see Ja Morant throwing slick passes and performing dazzling dunks, but it will be worth it in the end. It is not worth risking the team’s future when the team’s outlook is so bright — perhaps the brightest in the entire 30-team NBA over the next five or so years from now. For once, the rest of the league wants to be like the Memphis Grizzlies.