NBA regular season

Ja Morant set to rejoin Grizzlies, vows to make better decisions

Reuters

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Ja Morant set to rejoin Grizzlies, vows to make better decisions

OUT. Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant answers questions from media about his time away from the team during his 25 game suspension during a press conference at FedExForum.

Petre Thomas/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Two-time NBA All-Star Ja Morant nears his Grizzlies return after being slapped a 25-game suspension

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is eligible to return from a 25-game suspension next week and said Friday, December 15 (Saturday, December 16, Manila time), that he takes responsibility for his actions – and also for his team’s struggles to start the season without him.

The Grizzlies fell to 6-18 after falling to the Houston Rockets on Friday, just a season removed from being the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Morant is eligible to be reinstated in time for Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, his first chance to help his team.

“Yes, it’s definitely some guilt in that,” Morant said of his inability to play with his teammates to this point. “Obviously I’m not on the floor. Nobody like losing. … I take full responsibility of that. Even though I’m not on the floor, decisions I’ve made didn’t allow me to be out there to go to battle with my team.”

Those decisions included brandishing a handgun in public – and sharing videos of it – on two occasions. After the second incident, the NBA suspended him without pay in June for more than a quarter of the season. That followed a nine-game suspension after the first incident.

Morant has been allowed to be around the team and practice during the suspension. Coach Taylor Jenkins said recently that Morant had been “awesome” in practice and that he expected him to be ready to go when he’s activated.

The Grizzlies clearly have missed Morant, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a two-time All-Star with career averages of 22.4 points, 7.4 assists, and 4.8 rebounds.

Morant said he might have a bit of rust to shake off.

“Obviously it’s different when you’re actually in the game getting game reps,” the 24-year-old said in his first news conference since the suspension. “I’m just going to try to come back, do whatever I can to help the team win. I’m not forcing a historic game in my first game back.”

He has taken part in therapy during the suspension and called it “eye-opening.”

“Kind of gave me a new look on life with how I go about my days, how I carry myself. Just being grateful and thankful that I’m still here and in the position that I’m in.”

Morant conceded he had been through some “horrible” days over the past months but said he has realized what’s most important.

“Right now, honestly, I feel like the No. 1 thing outside of being around my family and having more time to spend around my daughter is being around the team,” he said. “I feel like that’s normally when I have my best days, normally when I’m in my best moods. In the coming days, I’ll be even happier when it’s a consistent thing.”

He also vowed to make better decisions while still being himself.

“I honestly feel like I can’t go away from being Ja,” Morant said. “I feel like that’s the most important thing, not trying to lose myself or be somebody that I’m not or act totally different, but the change will be my decision making and how I go about my daily life of being a NBA player, a father, a role model, a brother, a son, and just focusing in on that being the best Ja I can be.” – Rappler.com

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