Grizzlies star Ja Morant will miss eight more games, including Memphis' showdown with the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night due to a suspension for conduct detrimental to the league.
Morant met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday in New York to discuss the league's investigation into Morant's handling of a firearm at a strip club in Glendale, Colo., in the early hours of March 4.
Sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Morant is expected to start "ramping up on a return to the Grizzlies" now that the league has made its decision. Wojnarowski added that the investigation was ongoing until Silver met with Morant on Wednesday in New York. The investigation is now believed to be closed, with the eight-game suspension without pay being the NBA's final step.
Morant left a counseling program in Florida earlier this week and has been away from the team since the Nov. 4 incident in suburban Denver.
The Grizzlies said that they would continue to prioritize the 23-year-old's desire "to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being" and ruled him out through tonight's game against the Heat.
"I'm sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire organization for letting you down," Morant's statement read before he entered the counseling program in Florida. "I'm going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being."
Memphis is scheduled to play in Miami Wednesday night. It will mark the sixth straight contest the Grizzlies will have played without their All-Star guard. The team has gone 3-2 so far over that stretch, with a pair of back-to-back wins over the Dallas Mavericks earlier this week.
The Grizzlies sit No. 2 in the Western Conference standings with 15 games to play in 2023. They sit one game up on the Sacramento Kings and four behind the Denver Nuggets.
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In addition to the Heat, the Grizzlies will face the San Antonio Spurs on the road Friday night before returning home to a marquee matchup against the Warriors.
One of the three wins without Morant came last Thursday, March, 9, over the Warriors. Memphis won that home contest 131-110, but it wasn't without drama of its own.
Preparing for more Warriors-Grizzlies highlights, the NBA has set Saturday's bout for a national 5 p.m. PT telecast on NBA TV. Golden State fans in market can also watch and stream the game on NBC Sports Bay Area.
Before leaving the Grizzlies, Morant was on track to be a First-Team All-NBA guard, averaging 27.1 points and 8.2 assists a game. Despite Memphis holding onto its spot in the Western Conference standings, Morant's case for First-Team All-NBA has lessened. He will miss a total of 14 games before playing again in 2023.
The guards Morant is competing against for that First-Team have all been plagued by injury -- Luka Doncic, Steph Curry, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, James Harden, and Jaylen Brown
Portland's Damien Lillard and Cleveland's Donovan Mitchell could get the two top spots at the end of the NBA season, sheerly by being the most healthy -- and productive -- guards in the league. Lillard and Mitchell have started and played in every game for their team and average more than 32 and 27 points, respectively on the season.