LOS ANGELES — Ja Morant missed his first game Sunday after stepping away from the team in the wake of showing off a gun he had on him at a club on his Instagram Live stream.
Memphis said he would be out at least two games, but it sounds like they are leaning into more than just two.
“There’s not a definitive timeline,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said Sunday before his team faced the Clippers, the first public comments from the team. “I mean, we have said that it’s gonna be at least these two games, you know, we’re taking it one day at a time. I mean, this is going to be an ongoing healing process. So I can’t comment in terms of what the exact timetable is going to be because it’s really not a timetable situation.”
Jenkins would not detail what steps need to take place for Morant to rejoin the team.
“Ja is taking on the responsibility to really get the help he needs to get into a better place….” Jenkins said, then clarified more later.
“There’s two elements to this, I want to make very clear. There’s a supportive element, you know, someone that’s gotta get better, and he needs some help. And then also, there’s accountability to the team that we got to stand for.”
Morant appears to flash a gun during an Instagram Live stream while at a club Friday night/Saturday morning. That crossed a line and followed a string of incidents dating back to last summer that cumulated in the team’s decision.
Grizzlies star Ja Morant was allegedly seen showing off a gun on his IG Live this morning.pic.twitter.com/HlhvoWlnYy
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) March 4, 2023
The NBA is investigating the social media post, and the league did consult with the Grizzlies, however, the team also had to “handle our business,” Jenkins said.
“We love him. You know we want what’s best for him. We support him. It’s gonna be a difficult process. But you know, we’ve got a great group to get through this,” Jenkins said.
Morant released a statement over the weekend:
“I take full responsibility for my actions last night. I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire organization for letting you down. I’m going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”
This was not a single, one-off incident that led to him stepping away. Morant is being sued for an incident last summer where he allegedly punched a 17-year-old boy more than a dozen times and then flashed a gun at him (accusations he has denied). Morant and his friends got into it with security at a Memphis area shopping mall last summer as well. During this season, Morant and friends were involved in a controversy with a member of the Pacers’ traveling party.
After each previous incident, the people close to Morant — the Grizzlies organization, his teammates, his agent — defended him publicly, even if the team had taken steps to talk with him privately. The gun incident over the weekend led to a harsher reaction from the team this time.