Ja Morant – After returning from a 25-game suspension, Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant made his season debut Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. “He’s on fire,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said before the game. “He’s put in a lot of work since the start of the season and has been in the team as often as possible.

Now he’s got this chance in Game 26. To see him go out there and have fun. I’m really looking forward to it.” He and I talked about it. That means putting in the work, going out and having fun, building chemistry with your teammates, and just enjoying the opportunity to get back on the floor.

The Grizzlies were suspended for 25 games by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for brandishing a firearm in an Instagram Live video in May, two weeks after Memphis drafted him in the first round. Morant was suspended for eight games last season for a similar incident in March.

Morant was suspended for 8 games last season. He came off the bench, but things were very different. The Grizzlies had backup starting point guard Tyus Jones perform well, going 6-3 in games he missed (including one for conditioning reasons following his suspension).

Ja Morant starts in return from 25-game discontinuance

Jones was traded to the Washington Wizards in the offseason as part of a three-team deal in which the Grizzlies acquired guard Marcus Smart, who had been out since Nov. 14 with a sprained left ankle. Derrick Rose, another veteran point guard Memphis signed in the offseason, also missed Tuesday night with a hamstring strain. Jacob Gilliard,

who is on a two-way contract, has started eight games in Morant’s absence, including Monday night’s lopsided loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Grizzlies have an offense that ranks last in the league, averaging 105.9 points per 100 possessions, without Morant, who led Memphis with 26.2 points and 8.1 assists per game last season.

“I just want him to play at the level we talked about,” Jenkins said, adding he’s “keeping an eye” on Morant’s total playing time. “I told him and I told the team, I told him to lean on his teammates and how he can help his teammates and how they can help him too. I said, ‘I want you to understand that. Go out there and be our leader on the offensive side of the field.”