Grizzlies expected to get 2 key players back in lineup this week

Feb 28, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins (left) and guard
Feb 28, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins (left) and guard / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

With 25 games now officially down, superstar guard Ja Morant is finally eligible to make his return to the hardwood following a league-issued suspension and is expected to make his 2023-24 season debut with the Memphis Grizzlies in a December 19 road tilt against the New Orleans Pelicans.

While this news alone should certainly be enough to make any Grind City loyalist excited, adding to this brand of good news is the latest update of currently sidelined defensive stalwart Marcus Smart, as headman Taylor Jenkins revealed on Monday that the veteran "is really close" to making his own return to action, with the hope being he could be slotted back into the lineup as early as Thursday in a matchup against the Indiana Pacers.

Grizzlies could have Ja Morant, Marcus Smart return in same week

While Morant has been held out of the lineup dating back to training camp as a result of his suspension for conduct detrimental to the association, Smart has already seen on-court action with the Grizzlies so far this season, though has been sidelined for just over a month due to a left ankle injury sustained during their November 18 outing against the Los Angeles Lakers.

In games he was actually active, the 29-year-old proved to be rather productive while filling in at the starting one for the absent superstar, as he was averaging 13.4 points, 5.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.1 steals heading into the unfortunate bout against LA

Though many believed Smart's arrival to the 38103 this past summer would provide the team with a quality replacement option to hold down the fort for Morant while he serves out his league-mandated sentence, with such a plan in action the Grizzlies only managed to muster up a record of 2-8 and, as of this writing, are a putrid 6-19 on the year as a whole.

However, with the two likely to make their way back into the rotation this week, the hope now is that they can serve as much-needed talent boosts within coach Jenkins' rotation and, in turn, guide them on the road to recovery and back toward a place of relevancy as they attempt to claim their fourth consecutive playoff berth.