Breaking News
More () »

Grizzlies players respond to latest off-court distractions

Memphis has lost eight of their last nine games. Ja Morant's acquaintances were investigated by the NBA.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Grizzlies have struggled as of late, losing eight of their last nine games. Adding to the losing is off-the-court drama — begging the question if the two are related.

During the media portion of Monday's practice, Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks were both requested by the media, but not made available. 

Other players answered questions after practice, but distractions were still the theme of the day.

Grizzles players put on a brave face and toed the company line at practice, the day after — giving up a 15 point lead in a 106-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors. The loss was only their fifth in FedEx Forum this season.

"It’s weird playing in the league like. There’s ups and there’s downs," said Brandon Clarke. "And I think when you’re going up, it’s easy to stay up. When you’re down it’s easy to stay down. I think we just have to find a way to get back up."

The Grizzlies are down and it seems like the rest of the league is kicking. Just before Sunday’s loss to the Raptors, a report from The Athletic claimed associates of Morant had an altercation with members of the Indiana Pacers after the game on Jan. 29 in the loading area of the arena. 

The report also says that a slow moving SUV, allegedly with Morant in it, shined a laser on some of the Pacers, who didn’t know if it might be attached to a gun.

The NBA investigated the incident, but could not find proof of any weapons and Morant tweeted that the Pacers reports were false.

It’s the latest in a string of incidents this season, including a civil lawsuit against Morant and three on court scuffles in a month. 

Two of the fights involved Dillon Brooks. The loading area incident was an extension of the on court argument the Grizzlies had with the Pacers that resulted in Morant's best friend being ejected and banned from home games for a year.

The players say none of that has been distracting.

"We’re all grown," Clarke said. "I think at this point I think we’re all past that. We’re a young team, but we’re not super young. We’ve grown past those kinds of issues."

Off-court-drama is magnified by losing. Winning absolves all non-basketball news.

"We weren't the best team when we won 11 in a row. We're not the worst team now," said Santi Aldama. "When you lose, they come out as more negative than they really are. When you win, you really forget about if you miss a rotation, if you don’t get some boards."

The catalyst to those alleged non-distractions, Morant and Brooks, were at practice Monday but did not talk to media. 

Taylor Jenkins says the team is not distracted by the antics.

"I don’t think so, maybe a little bit or something. They’re the best ones to answer that. I think when I watch the film and I watch our guys compete. I’m not sitting there saying 'man that incident that happened a week ago is the reason why we’re struggling right now," Jenkins said. "It’s the way we’ve had lack of practice time, and we’ve had guys in different roles and all this stuff. No excuses, we’ve just got to find ways to combat that."

As to how he's helping his players, Jenkins just said he's loving them through it.

"The biggest thing has been showing them support, making sure they are good and getting their feedback on how things have played out," Jenkins said. "Then we focus on the next step with what we have ahead of us."

ABC24 asked why Morant was not available to media after that report was released from The Athletic. The Grizzlies said there would be opportunities to talk to him Tuesday, when the team plays the Chicago Bulls.

Before You Leave, Check This Out