Ja Morant has quickly risen to superstardom in the NBA, becoming one of the most exciting and electrifying players in the league. However, the Memphis Grizzlies have recently been without their All-Star point guard. Morant is currently serving a 25 game suspension handed down by the NBA for posting inappropriate content on social media.
The Grizzlies and their fans are eager to get Morant back on the court as soon as possible. So when exactly will the former Rookie of the Year make his return? What happened that led to his lengthy suspension? And how will Memphis manage in his absence?
Who is Ja Morant?
Before diving into the details around his suspension and eventual return, it’s important to understand who Ja Morant is and his background. Born in 1999 in Dalzell, South Carolina, Morant played college basketball for Murray State. He had a breakout sophomore season, averaging 24.5 points, 10 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game. This led to him being selected 2nd overall in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Grizzlies.
In the NBA, Morant’s skills and athleticism have dazzled fans. In just his second season, he led Memphis to the playoffs. And in 2022, at just 22 years old, he was named an All-Star starter and the NBA’s Most Improved Player. Known for his speed and leaping ability, Morant has earned comparisons to Russell Westbrook with his playing style.
Off the court, Morant keeps things relatively low key. He has one daughter born in 2019. His father Tee was his high school coach and trainer, instilling a strong work ethic in Morant from a young age. Morant also has a younger sister who played basketball growing up.
When Will Ja Morant Return to Play From His NBA Suspension?
On June 16, 2023, the NBA announced Ja Morant would be suspended for 25 games for posting a photo on social media with a gun visible. This came after previous warnings and an 8 game suspension earlier in 2022 for a separate gun-related post.
According to the NBA’s release, if Morant satisfies conditions laid out by the league, he will be eligible to return on December 20 when the Grizzlies take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. His first game back in Memphis will come on December 23 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 25 game suspension will cost Morant around $460,000 in lost salary. It is one of the longest suspensions for an off-court issue in recent NBA history.
How Have the Grizzlies Fared Without Ja Morant?
With Morant sidelined to start the 2022-2023 season, the Grizzlies have held their own but unsurprisingly look worse without their superstar point guard.
Through 25 games, Memphis has gone 15-10, good for 5th place in the Western Conference. Their offense has predictably struggled, ranking 21st in offensive rating after finishing 9th last season.
Other players have stepped up in Morant’s absence like Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks. But the team clearly misses Morant’s scoring punch – he averaged 27.4 points per game last season. Once Morant returns, the expectation is Memphis will look much more like the dangerous team that posted the 2nd best record in the NBA a year ago.
What Led to Ja Morant’s Lengthy Suspension?
Unfortunately, this was not the first time Morant had posted images or video showing guns on social media. The final straw was a live video posted on June 5 to Instagram that showed Morant holding a gun.
The NBA said this conduct violated league rules prohibiting players from possessing firearms in public places or private places open to the public. Morant was first suspended in March 2022 for eight games for a prior gun-related post.
After the June incident, the Grizzlies announced Morant would take time away from the team indefinitely. The organization clearly wanted their franchise player to reset mentally and physically after the trying year.
How Will Ja Morant’s Return Impact the Grizzlies?
Make no mistake, getting Ja Morant back on the floor will provide a huge boost to Memphis as they look to build on last season’s success. With Desmond Bane emerging as a legitimate second star, the Morant-Bane duo will be downright scary for opponents.
In addition to the scoring and playmaking Morant provides, he is the heart and soul of the team’s identity. The Grizzlies play with an edge and swagger that emanates from their All-Star point guard.
If Morant stays healthy upon returning, Memphis should shoot up the Western Conference standings. Come playoff time, they have all the pieces in place to make a deep run, especially with Morant back leading the way.
Key Takeaways on Ja Morant’s Suspension and Return
- Ja Morant is serving a 25 game suspension issued by the NBA for social media posts showing guns
- He is eligible to return on December 20, 2023 against the Cavaliers
- Morant’s absence has hurt the Grizzlies’ offense and win-loss record
- Previous gun-related posts led the NBA to hand down the lengthy suspension
- Getting Morant back healthy will make the Grizzlies very dangerous in the West
The wait is almost over for Grizzlies fans eager to get their electric star point guard back. While the team has fought valiantly without him, the return of Ja Morant should elevate Memphis to new heights in 2023.
FAQs on What Happened to Ja Morant NBA
1. When is Ja Morant eligible to return from his suspension?
Ja Morant is eligible to return on December 20, 2023 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as long as he completes the league-mandated counseling program during his suspension.
2. Why was Ja Morant suspended by the NBA?
Morant was suspended for 25 games by the NBA for posting an image on social media that showed him with a gun. This violated league rules prohibiting displaying firearms in public places.
3. What was Ja Morant’s previous suspension for?
Earlier in 2022, Morant was suspended for 8 games due to a separate incident where he posted a live video on social media that showed firearms.
4. How long will Ja Morant’s suspension last?
Morant’s suspension will be for 25 games. He missed the first 6 games while taking a leave of absence, so the suspension will cover 19 more games until his return on December 20.
5. What can we expect from Ja Morant when he returns?
Expect Morant to return with refreshed legs and elevated focus. If he can regain his All-Star form, the Grizzlies should surge up the Western Conference standings and reemerge as a dangerous playoff threat.