Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said Sunday that Ja Morant will likely miss game four on Monday with a knee injury.
“He’s got more evaluation underway,” Jenkins said on Sunday. “But from what I’ve been told, there’s probably a really good chance he doesn’t play tomorrow.”
The Grizzlies did not immediately detail the exact nature of Morant’s knee injury. But the Grizzlies believe it was caused by a play in which Jordan Ball grabbed Morant’s knee while going to play basketball in a trap near half the field in the final quarter of Game 3.
A source told ESPN that the National Basketball Association will not take any disciplinary action against Paul. Jenkins said the Memphis executive vice president of basketball operations/general manager Zach Kleiman has been in touch with the league about the play.
“I’m just trying to be a reality here,” Jenkins said when asked about his opinion of the play after further review. “This is what Ja, this is what our medical team said after reviewing the play. Ja was playing great, feeling great throughout the match, grabbing the knee is what caused the potential injury and why we took Ja out of the games.
“Nothing has changed from there in terms of that was the play that launched this.”
Morant left Chase Center Saturday evening without speaking to reporters. But he initially tweeted a “code-breaker” with a video of Paul grabbing Morant’s knee in the fourth quarter game, before later deleting the tweet.
Morant can be seen walking limping toward the team bus after Memphis’ loss 142-112.
Paul said he wasn’t trying to intentionally hurt Morant. He and Andrew Wiggins cornered Morant near half the field before Wiggins was called up for a foul with 6:55 left. Morant surrendered with 6:19 left and the 17 Warriors left before returning to the locker room with a limp.
“It was a basketball game when we doubled it,” Paul said on Saturday. “And I hit the ball, and I was going for the ball. I mean, obviously, you don’t want to see anyone get hurt. I’m not even that kind of player. I respect everyone.”
The Grizzlies have gone 20-5 this season without Morant, who missed nine consecutive games in March and April due to a right knee noon during the regular season.
“Ja’s morale is good,” said defender Teos Jones, who will start if Morant is unable to play. “It’s obviously frustrating. Anytime you get hurt or hit, you get frustrated. [But] His spirits are good. It’s clear he’s still putting everything into recovery and trying to get better and trying to be with us trying to compete and fight.”
Jones added that while he thought the play in question involving Paul was “a fun play,” he said he didn’t think anyone was trying to harm anyone on Earth.
“I don’t think Paul or anyone in this series is necessarily a dirty player,” Jones said. “But it was just a fun play. That’s all I can say about it. It wasn’t a normal, naturally occurring play but I don’t think he was trying to hit 12 by any means.”
Grizzlies will reclaim Dillon Brooks for Match 4 after the winger suspended one match in Match 3 for his blatant foul 2 in the first minutes of Match 2 in which Gary Payton II suffered an elbow fracture. Furious Steve Kerr said Brooks “broke the code” for the blatant foul, hitting Payton in the head while the Warriors point guard was in the air heading for a transition throw.
Now, the Grizzlies, the 2-1 losers, could be without their star guard in Game 4.
“When he was on the field I saw how dominant he was and how much we depended on him,” said powerful striker Xavier Tillmann. “So when he’s not in court, now we have to show him like, ‘We got you.’ Obviously an unfortunate situation, but now we stand up for you, we’ll keep it until you’re ready to go.”