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Ja Morant to miss more games

DEEP TROUBLE In this file photo taken on Feb. 23, 2023, Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. PHOTO BY TOM NWACHUKWU/AFP

MEMPHIS Grizzlies guard Ja Morant will be away from the team for at least four more games, the team said on Wednesday, shortly after police announced that he will not face charges in Colorado related to the livestreamed video in which he appeared to be displaying a gun in a strip club.

“Ja Morant will continue to remain away from the team for at least the next four games,” the team said with no further comment.

That means Morant will miss games against Golden State on Thursday, home against Dallas on Saturday, at Dallas on Monday and at Miami on March 15. The earliest he could play is March 17 at San Antonio, and there’s no guarantee of that.

Meanwhile, the Glendale Police Department said it looked into the video, which was a stream that Morant showed on his Instagram channel while he seemed to be holding a firearm, and found no proof that a crime was committed. Glendale is an enclave surrounded by the city of Denver.

“In this case, it should be noted that on the night in question the GPD did not receive any calls for service at the nightclub regarding a weapon of any type,” police said. “Subsequently, no disturbances were reported, and no citizens or patrons of the club came forward to make a complaint.

“The investigation also concluded that no one was threatened or menaced with the firearm and in fact no firearm was ever located.”

The NBA has said it is also looking into the matter, and has not announced any sanctions — such as a suspension — against Morant.

Police said the investigation confirmed that “the incident” — Morant was not named in the release, which only made reference to “a prominent NBA player” — occurred at an establishment called Shotgun Willies in Glendale. The two-time All-Star streamed the video in the early hours of Saturday, after the Grizzlies played in Denver on Friday night.

The Grizzlies said Morant would be away from the team for at least two games — those were Sunday and Tuesday — and Morant later said that he decided “to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”

It is not clear what that means. Morant has not commented further and the Grizzlies have not shared what steps he is taking or why he is seeking help.

Zion out 2 more weeks

In New Orleans, Zion Williamson will be sidelined for at least two more weeks while the New Orleans Pelicans monitor the All-Star forward’s recovery from a right hamstring injury that occurred more than two months ago, the club announced Wednesday.

Recent medical imaging “revealed that Williamson’s hamstring continues to heal,” a statement released by the club said. “His next examination will take place in approximately two weeks.”

After that next examination, the Pelicans will have 10 games left in the regular season.

New Orleans is 8-20 since Williamson’s injury on January 2 and entered Wednesday night’s action in a three-way tie for 10th place in the Western Conference with a record of 31-34.

Now the Pelicans must play at least their next seven games without the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Williamson, who has averaged 26 points and seven rebounds in 29 games this season.

“My first thought is always for Z. It’s been tough dealing with the hamstring and working to get himself back and kind of having the same issue again,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said, alluding to a setback Williamson had in his recovery shortly before the All-Star game.

For the rest of the guys, we know where we are. Guys have to step up,” Green said. “It’s go time for us.”

Green said Williamson has been building strength, performing pool workouts and spot shooting on the court.

“So, he’s progressing, but we’re extremely mindful of the last time he got to six weeks and he wasn’t quite ready,” Green added.

Drafted first overall out of Duke in 2019, Williamson missed all of the 2021-22 season with a foot injury and most of his rookie season with a knee injury.

Since turning pro, he has played in a combined total of 114 games out of 292 regular season games and none of New Orleans’ eight postseason games.

Last summer, Williamson signed a five-year rookie max extension with New Orleans with a value ranging between $193 million and $231 million, based on incentives.

Durant injured during warmups

In Phoenix, Kevin Durant’s home debut with the Phoenix Suns will have to wait a little longer.

The 13-time All-Star slipped on the floor during pregame warmups and was ruled out Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder because of left ankle soreness.

The game was supposed to be Durant’s home debut with his new team. He has played in three games since being traded to the Suns, but all were on the road.

Video showed Durant driving to the basket during warmups when he rolled his left ankle as he jumped. He immediately hopped up and continued his pregame work, but several minutes later, the Suns confirmed that Durant would miss the game.

Durant averaged 26.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in his three games with Phoenix.

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