MEMPHIS — Ja Morant’s All-Star plans could get a little busier after Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard suffered a right groin strain in the Memphis Grizzlies’ 111-104 winWednesday night.
Lillard left the game with 3:22 remaining in the fourth quarter and immediately went to the locker room. Afterwards, Lillard said he will not participate in the All-Star Game on Sunday in Chicago nor Saturday’s 3-point shootout.
“My health comes first and I knew right away that it wasn’t going to happen. I will still be there and be a part of it, but I’m not going to be able to play,” Lillard told reporters.
That leaves the door open for a replacement and for Morant to possibly fill it, with the Grizzlies sitting with a four-game lead for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies rookie will already be in Chicago for Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge. Lillard offered Devin Booker as another candidate, with the Phoenix Suns guard currently 10th in the NBA in scoring at 26.4 points per game.
Morant did not campaign to be Lillard’s replacement.
“I only can control what I can. I mean, I don’t have nothing to do with that,” Morant said. “I don’t know how they go about it. We just stay focused and whatever happens, just happens.”
Brandon Clarke, however, supported his Grizzlies teammate being chosen to replace Lillard.
“I would love that. Ja’s a great player and I would say he’s very deserving of that spot,” said Clarke, who will play alongside Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. in the Rising Stars Challenge. “He’s been doing everything this year, so for his name to even be like a possible choice for that, I think it’s really cool.”
The NBA will announce Lillard’s replacement in the coming days.
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