SAN FRANCISCO – Jaa Morant’s status is in doubt for Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal series against the Warriors on Monday night as the Grizzlies star deals with pain in his right knee.
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said Morant underwent an MRI but declined to share what the test revealed.
“He’s the suspect for tonight. He’s still under evaluation, so that’s all I can share,” Jenkins said Monday after the firing.
Jenkins said Morant “wasn’t really doing much” at the shootaround on Monday afternoon. The All-Star guard was seen sitting on the edge of the court wearing a gray sweatshirt and slide in the chase center, while other Grizzlies players took shots.
Jenkins said it “has to be determined” whether Morant will try to warm up or do anything to prepare for Game 4. He also said the team’s medical staff is “still working” to determine the severity of Morant’s injury.
Morant allegedly injured his right knee during a play in the fourth quarter of Game 3 on Saturday night when Warriors guard Jordan Poole appeared to catch Morant’s knee during a trap at the half-court. Jenkins has insisted that Poole deliberately grabbed and “yanked” Morant’s knee, although Poole said he was just trying to “play basketball” and that he was attempting to reach the ball.
Several other Grizzlies and Warriors players have come to Poole’s defense, admitting that the outcome of the game is unfortunate, although Poole’s actions were not malicious or dirty.
Meanwhile, Morant clarified his feelings about the play, tweeting a video of the play with the caption, “Break the code,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s response to Dylan Brooks’ stern foul on Gary Peyton II. In terms of the comments, which led to Golden. State guard for breaking his elbow in Game 2. Morant deleted the tweet soon after it was posted.
Jenkins said Grizzlies general manager Zack Kleiman is in communication with the NBA League office about the play. But the league will not suspend Poole for Game 4, which kicks off Monday at 7 p.m. at the Chase Center, or fine him for the incident.
Morant is listed as “suspicious” in the Grizzlies’ injury report. If he ends up playing in Game 4, the NBA can see if the Grizzlies have violated the league’s injury reporting rules. Both the Phoenix Suns and the Philadelphia 76ers have been fined up to $50,000 this post season for failing to disclose the status of a player’s participation “in an accurate and timely manner” prior to the game.
The Grizzlies are 20-5 without Morante this season. Jenkins said Memphis’ game plan does not change if Morant is unable to play.
“I always say it’s not about doing more, it’s just doing better,” Jenkins said. “It is executing our system better on the offensive end, the way we play with the pace and share the ball. Guys raised their game during those parts and then defensively, obviously, we didn’t play the last game up to our standard. We just have to play to our standard… with effort, urgency, attention to detail, we just have to get out there, we have to spin, we have to fly around. It’s a tough cover for us but obviously it’s playoff basketball, we just have to level up.
The Grizzlies are looking for a best-of-seven series, with the Warriors currently leading 2-1, before heading back to Memphis for Game 5 on Wednesday.
Reporter Shayna Rubin contributed to this report.