Jonas Valanciunas on Ja Morant: “He will go far and achieve a lot”

Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas talked about staying in shape during quarantine, possible NBA return, his team’s chances this season as well as rookie sensation Ja Morant in an interview with Lietuvos rytas TV.

“Practices are individual, one-on-one with a coach, shooting, weight room, some stretching. Nothing too serious. We cannot practice as a team but at least we returned to the gym,” JV said when asked what practices look like at this time. “We are slowly getting in shape. We are waiting for when we will be able to practice together as a team, I think that then we will get in shape.”

“We were told that a decision [on this season] will be made in 2-4 weeks. We already went through one week so there are three weeks remaining,” the 28-year-old Lithuanian international expects clarity on the future of this season soon.

Valanciunas also remembered the time he learned about the suspension of the NBA season: “To be honest, there was no anticipation [of season suspension]. It was quite a shock because I heard about it over the news when we were in Portland… I didn’t even hear it from team but from ESPN news I think. It was a shock, I never had an experience like that. I called the coach and asked what to do.”

“It was a pity [that the season got suspended] because the season was not a bad one,” the Grizzlies center said. “Really, no one expected us to go that far. Playoffs were in sight and the mood was quite good. And we sort of had a goal to play against the Lakers, to be the 8th seed.”

Valanciunas also spoke highly of his rookie teammate Ja Morant: “For sure, a kid who has extraordinary abilities. His physical abilities as well as his basketball IQ. Really, not low. You can only be happy that he plays on your team and you don’t have to guard him.”

“He’s rather quiet,” JV said about the Grizzlies rookie outside of basketball court. “Really hardworking kid. He accepts criticism, wants to learn, wants to be better than he was yesterday. I think he will go far and achieve a lot if everything is the way it is now.”

Memphis is currently in the eighth-placed in the Western Conference and would face the Lakers if the playoffs began now.