Injured Morant done for season

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) hangs from the rim after dunking against the San Antonio Spurs in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, in Memphis, Tennessee.
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) hangs from the rim after dunking against the San Antonio Spurs in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, in Memphis, Tennessee. AP

JA Morant’s season is over, with the Memphis Grizzlies announcing Monday night (Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2023 PH time) that their star guard needs surgery to repair a tear in his right shoulder.

Morant got hurt in practice on Saturday, the Grizzlies said. The two-time All-Star was in a sling for the Grizzlies’ game against Phoenix on Sunday, and then the news came a day later about how serious the issue is.

“Following ongoing soreness and instability, Morant underwent an MRI that revealed an underlying labral tear,” the Grizzlies said.

Morant missed the first 25 games of the season while serving an NBA suspension for displaying a gun on social media — his second such suspension in less than a year, after missing eight games last season for a similar offense.

He returned from the 25-game suspension and averaged 25.1 points in nine games, with the Grizzlies going 6-3 in those contests.

The Grizzlies are 7-20 without Morant this season, are 4 1/2 games out of the final play-in spot in the Western Conference and now have to go the rest of the way without their best player. A playoff push, with Morant, didn’t seem completely unreasonable. Without him, the long odds just got much longer.

It seems as though the severity of the shoulder issue caught the Grizzlies off-guard. On Sunday, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said Morant was dealing with soreness and even went as far as to say he it would be a game-time decision against the Suns.

Morant is in the first season of a five-year, $197 million contract. He’s earning about $34 million this season, though lost about $7.6 million of that because of the 25-game suspension.

Morant’s 25-game suspension without pay was announced in June. Commissioner Adam Silver handed that penalty down three months after issuing what became an eight-game ban after Morant held a gun in a suburban Denver nightclub while streaming himself live on Instagram.

Another livestream in May, this time while sharing the front seat of a car with one of his friends, showed Morant displaying a weapon again – leading to the 25-game suspension.

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