Ja to travel, practice with Grizz while suspended

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant will be permitted to practice and travel with the team to begin the season while serving his 25-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league.

“I think it’s great for Ja, and I think it’s great for the group that he can be with us day-to-day,” Grizzlies general manager Zach Kleiman said during the team’s media day Monday. “The NBA basically has said that as long as Ja continues to stay on track, he’s going to be clear to participate in all private team activities, so practices, shootarounds, traveling with the team. He’s not going to be with us, obviously, for preseason games and the first 25, but we’ll see him out there and we can’t wait to have him back Game 26.”

Morant was suspended for posing with a handgun in a livestreamed video on May 13, less than two months after he was suspended eight games for displaying a handgun in an intoxicated state on a livestreamed video from a Denver nightclub. The NBA news release issued on June 16 announcing Morant’s suspension stated that he would be “required to meet certain conditions before he returns to play and will be ineligible to participate in any public league or team activities.”

Morant, an All-Star the last two seasons who is entering the first year of a five-year, $197 million maximum contract, did not participate in Monday’s media day.

“He’s been putting in great work and I think taking a lot of steps in the right direction and a healthy positive direction,” Kleiman said Monday. “I would just leave it at that.”

Kleiman declined to say whether the Grizzlies would take any extra measures to attempt to help Morant avoid another incident at a nightclub, saying he intends to keep those discussions “internal.”

“I would again just say I think he’s taken meaningful, positive, healthy steps in the right direction,” Kleiman said. “We’re going to continue to give him the structure to be able to follow through on that.”

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said that Morant will not work with the starters during training camp because the Grizzlies need to prepare to begin the season without him.

“We’ve got a separate plan designed for him outside just the team training where we’re going to push him,” Jenkins said. “He’s excited about it and how we can challenge him even more, when we talk about being the best version of Ja moving forward.”

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