After a brief counseling stay in Florida, the Grizzlies Ja Morant met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver to discuss his return to the court. Now that his suspension has been handed down, how will he handle his return to the court?
It seems that the Ja Morant saga finally has an end, at least for now. The NBA announced that Morant would be suspended eight games for “conduct detrimental to the league” after their investigation into his incident in a Denver club earlier this month. He avoided a larger suspension after the league did not find enough evidence that the gun shown on his Instagram live was his, nor that he brought it with him while traveling with the team.
Morant was reportedly in counseling in Florida just a few days ago but now appears to be focusing on returning to the Grizzlies. In an interview with Jalen Rose, his first since the suspension, he talked about taking responsibility and realizing how much he, and his team, have to lose if he continues to act how he has.
That all sounds great, and it is exciting to know that he will be returning for the Grizzlies stretch run. But has he really turned a corner in such a short time?
Ja Morant must prove he can stay focused on basketball
Ja Morant’s eight-game suspension will include the six games he has already missed, so he is eligible to return on March 20th against the Dallas Mavericks. I have no doubt that he will be the Ja Morant we all expect once he returns, but has he truly had the time needed to reflect and learn from his mistakes over the past year? That is what remains to be seen.
What he did was the definition of irresponsible, and he has acknowledged that. He has taken the necessary steps to change his behavior and seems to realize now what he stands to lose if he doesn’t. The thing that concerns me and likely many other fans, however, is just how short his time away from basketball will end up being. It is difficult to believe that he could have changed his thought process so much in just a couple of weeks. The news that the team will now be leaving road cities immediately following games doesn’t help ease those concerns.
Despite that concern, the Grizzlies need him. They have gone 3-3 during his six-game absence, with two of those wins coming against the Mavericks without Kyrie Irving or Luka Doncic. They just don’t have the same offensive firepower without him. Hopefully, he truly is ready to come back and focus on basketball. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little unsure of the timing of it all.