The Grizzlies stumbled to a 6-19 start to the season with point guard Ja Morant suspended, but the return their star provided an instant spark. Memphis won four consecutive games, putting itself back in position to at least compete for a play-in berth in the new calendar year. Those hopes might have already vanished.
Memphis announced Monday night that Morant will miss the remainder of the season, ending his 2023-24 campaign after only nine games.
Morant seamlessly stepped back into his role as the on-court leader of the team following his suspension for conduct detrimental to the league, averaging 25.1 points and 8.1 assists per game with efficiency that largely matched his All-Star seasons with the Grizzlies.
Memphis was able to keep the engine running when Morant missed time over the last two seasons, but the team is 6-3 with the former No. 2 pick and 7-20 without him this season.
Here are the details on what knocked Morant out for the remainder of the season.
What happened to Ja Morant?
Morant suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder during practice on Saturday, according to the Grizzlies. He will undergo surgery, ending his season. Memphis added that Morant is expected to be ready for the 2024-25 season.
— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) January 9, 2024
The announcement came as a surprise, as Morant didn’t suffer the injury in a game and was initially listed as a game-time decision against the Suns on Sunday due to “shoulder soreness” before being ruled out.
Labrum tear recovery timeline
The most recent example of a torn labrum for another NBA standout was Pascal Siakam, who underwent labrum surgery in June 2021. Siakam missed the start of the 2021-22 season but was able to return on Nov. 7 after a five-month recovery.
Dr. Michael S. George of the KSF Orthopaedic Center told Sporting News in 2021 that a typical timeline for recovery from a labrum repair is four-to-six months, though most doctors wait until closer to sixth months to give players full clearance.
The NBA Finals will be in full swing five months from Morant’s injury, so a return this season isn’t realistic even in the best-case scenario.
Despite the significance of the injury, George said the prognosis for a full recovery and return to the same level of play is “excellent.”
Now 13-23 and still a distance away from a play-in spot, the Grizzlies’ season might simply become an opportunity to secure a high draft pick and stockpile another young piece to play alongside Morant in the future. Memphis already lost center Steven Adams to a season-ending knee injury in October, and forward Brandon Clarke has yet to play this season after tearing his Achilles last season.
Morant, meanwhile, figures to enter next season with fresh legs after playing only nine games in 2023-24.
Source : ESPN.com