Ja Morant could return to Grizzlies to face Pelicans

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Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant reacts from the bench during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Ja Morant could return to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans after missing just more than two weeks with a sore right knee.

Morant's status against New Orleans was upgraded to questionable on the injury report Friday afternoon. If the All-Star guard returns Saturday, the timetable would be in keeping with what the team announced after the third-year player’s injury was announced.

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Morant, averaging a team-high 27.6 points a game, injured his right knee in a loss in Atlanta on March 18. He has been listed as “out” since then, and Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said soon after that Morant would be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Jenkins has periodically said since then that Morant was improving, and they were monitoring his progress with the team’s medical staff. The Memphis coach said Thursday before a loss in Denver that Morant had worked out in 5-on-5 practice and hinted that the guard could return this weekend.

The Grizzlies have two home games left in the regular season — Saturday against the Pelicans and Sunday against Boston. Memphis has already secured the second seed in the Western Conference.

In the nine games since Morant’s absence, Memphis has gone 7-2, the two losses coming in the last two games – in overtime at Utah on Tuesday night and Thursday night in Denver. Backup guard Tyus Jones has filled in most of the time with Morant out.