Memphis Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, the team announced Monday. The injury occurred Saturday during a routine practice session, abruptly cutting short the 23-year-old’s stellar campaign just weeks after returning from a 25-game suspension.
Freak Injury Occurs During Routine Practice
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Morant suffered the shoulder injury during “a routine play” at practice. The team provided no further details on the exact play that caused the injury, but the Commercial Appeal reported he “bumped shoulders” with teammate John Konchar.
The injury was evidently severe, as early testing revealed Morant suffered a Grade 2 tear of his right labrum. While the team and its star player hoped initial rehab could fix the issue, further consultation with specialists made it clear surgery would be necessary.
Morant Was Having an MVP-Caliber Season
The injury could not come at a worse time for Morant, who had thrust himself into the MVP discussion with his outstanding play through the first couple months of the season. In his fourth NBA campaign, the electric point guard made monumental improvements as both a scorer and floor general:
|Points Per Game
|Field Goal %
|Assists Per Game
Advanced metrics also demonstrated Morant’s massive leap into superstardom. He posted an incredible 63.7% True Shooting mark and averaged over 35 points per 100 possessions for the first time in his career. He earned Western Conference Player of the Month honors in October and November as Memphis got off to a blistering 14-4 start.
Unfortunately, Morant was never quite able to get back up to that level of play after serving his lengthy suspension.
Morant Had Just Returned From 25-Game Suspension
Morant had only just returned to action on January 6 after being suspended 25 games by the league office for an altercation with a referee during a November game. He showed significant rust in his first three contests back, averaging just 10.3 points on 28% shooting.
The dynamic guard finally seemed to be rounding back into form last week. He erupted for 38 points on 17-26 shooting against the Spurs, giving Grizzlies fans hope he could lead them on another deep postseason run.
That optimism came crashing down with Saturday’s devastating injury news.
What’s Next For Morant and the Grizzlies?
Morant will undergo surgery this coming week to repair the torn labrum and additional damage in his shoulder capsule. While no official timeline has been set, he can expect an 8-12 month rehabilitation period post-operation.
The young star was clearly devastated by the diagnosis, simply tweeting “God got me!” after the news broke. He figures to be ready for the start of next season.
In the interim, the Grizzlies will have to continue their push for the West’s No. 1 seed without their best player. They currently sit 2.5 games back of the first-place Nuggets at 23-16. More onus will fall onto budding superstar Desmond Bane’s shoulders, as well as trade deadline acquisition Luke Kennard. Memphis has an intriguing mix of veteran talent and young players supporting their core duo, but making it out of a stacked Western Conference remains an uphill battle.
Still, this Morant-led group has defied expectations before, winning 56 games last season. Perhaps they can continue to surprise even with their talisman sidelined for the rest of 2024. One thing is for certain – Ja Morant will come back next season with a massive chip on his shoulder, determined to prove he is still on a trajectory toward NBA superstardom.
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