Putting a timeline on Ja Morant’s return is ‘disrespectful,’ says Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins

Ja Morant doesn’t seem close to returning to basketball.

The Memphis Grizzlies star was inactive Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers for Game 2 of what the team announced on Saturday was “at least” a two-game ban that it declined to call a suspension. Asked about a timeline for his return before the tip, head coach Taylor Jenkins called the showing “disrespectful”.

“I said yesterday it was a healing process,” Jenkins told reporters. “So if everyone expects something to change overnight, we have to do our due diligence and respect that.

“We’re talking about Ja being in a better place personally and also professionally. Putting a timeline on that I think is disrespectful in my opinion. We want to make sure he’s in a great place for himself but also as a responsible teammate here.”

The Grizzlies suspended Morant after he posted a video on social media Saturday of himself holding a gun while dancing at a club.

The Grizzlies played and lost to the Nuggets in Denver on Friday night. Police in Glendale, a suburb of Denver, are investigating whether Morant broke any laws during the incident.

Moran issued a statement through his agent on Saturday after the Grizzlies suspended him announcing he was stepping away from basketball “time”.

“I take full responsibility for my actions last night. I’m sorry to my family, my teammates, my coaches, my fans, my partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organization for letting you down. fall,” Morant’s statement read. “I will take time to get support and work on learning better ways to manage stress and my overall well-being.

The NBA acknowledged the same day that it was conducting its own investigation.

Morant released the video days after a Washington Post article published allegations that Morant repeatedly punched a 17-year-old boy during a basketball game at his Memphis home. According to police reports, the alleged victim said Morant, 23, entered his home and returned with a gun tucked into his pants after the attack.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – FEBRUARY 28: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at FedExForum on February 28, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph, user accepts the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

Ja Morant doesn’t seem close to returning to basketball. (Justin Ford/Getty Images)

The Post article also details an allegation that Morant threatened a security guard at a Memphis mall last summer. According to a Memphis police report cited in the story, Morant’s mother had a confrontation with an employee of a Finish Line store in the mall. She then called Morant, who showed up with several of his friends, according to the report.

The security guard told Morant and his friends to leave the mall parking lot, according to the report. The security guard told police that one of Morant’s friends then pushed him over the head and that Morant said “let me know what time he’s coming down” as they left the property.

The Post story was published weeks after Morant’s friends were accused of training a red laser pointer at Indiana Pacers staffers following a controversial Pacers-Grizzlies game in Memphis. Pacers security believed the laser was attached to a gun.

“We felt we were in grave danger,” a person involved told The Athletic anonymously.

Morant and his lawyers have widely denied details of the firearms allegations.

Morant’s absence comes as the Grizzlies face off near the top of the Western Conference. Memphis entered second in the West on Tuesday, seven games behind the Nuggets in first place.

A two-time All-Star and one of the league’s brightest young stars, Morant is averaging 27.1 points, 8.2 assists and six rebounds this season. An extended absence would be a crippling blow to the Grizzlies’ hopes of advancing to the competitive Western Conference playoffs.

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