MEMPHIS, Tenn. – While Ja Morant did not talk on Monday, he was the talk of Grizzlies Media Day.
The team announcing that their franchise star will be able to practice and travel with the Grizzlies during his NBA imposed 25 game suspension. That will allow Morant to stay integrated with teammates and coaches throughout the first couple of months of the season.
“Being fully immersed in our team environment, practices, shoot-arounds. In the locker room. Obviously traveling. It’s huge,” said Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins. “It’s not just about the teammates supporting him. It’s him supporting his teammates as well. It goes both ways.”
The two newcomers tasked with providing guidance for Morant and leadership, on and off the court, for this Grizzlies team are Marcus Smart and former Tiger great Derrick Rose. Both are ready to take Morant under their wing, but it will be tough love for one of the NBA’s top young players.
“I just told him, I’m not here to baby sit you. I’m not here to follow you around. I’m not here to cheerlead, I’m here to push you and let them know when, in times, like whenever he’s being reckless, to calm down,” Rose said. “Me saying reckless, I’m talking about on the court.”
“I’ve dealt with suspensions. I’ve dealt with stuff of my own. So for Ja to be able to come and talk to me is something that is a big part of this for me as well,” Smart said. “I care for him as a human and as a teammate and I want to see him succeed because if he’s not succeeding, I tell you one thing, this team’s not going to succeed. We know that and I think everybody in the NBA world knows that.”
Steven Adams remains on the mend, saying that it would be, quote, “irresponsible” to say that he’s ready to play in an NBA game right now. Remember, Adams missed most of the second half of last season with an injured knee.
The Grizzlies open Training camp on Tuesday.