Calling his flashing of a gun in a club and broadcasting it on social media “irresponsible” and “reckless,” the NBA announced it has suspended Ja Morant for eight games without pay.
That came after Morant met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to discuss his actions, the league’s investigation, and his punishment.
“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” Silver said in a statement announcing the suspension. “It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him. He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for his behavior. Ja has also made it clear to me that he has learned from this incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibility to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court.”
The eight-game suspension is retroactive and includes the five games he’s already missed, Wednesday night’s game against the Heat, and two more over the weekend (at Spurs, then Warriors). Morant could return to the club on Monday when they face Dallas, however, he has not been playing while in counseling in Florida and likely will miss a little more time ramping up to play again, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The suspension will cost Morant $668,659 in pay, reports Bobby Marks of ESPN. Morant has faced other financial issues from the incident — Powerade pulled the ad they planned to run during March Madness — and it could impact whether he makes All-NBA, which would give him a Rose-rule supermax.
While the league suspended Morant for his actions, its investigation concluded it was not his gun. From the league’s announcement:
“Based on the information obtained during the investigation, the league did not conclude that the gun at issue belonged to Morant, was brought by him into the nightclub or was displayed by him beyond a brief period. The investigation also did not find that Morant possessed the gun while traveling with the team or in any NBA facility, and the Colorado authorities did not find sufficient cause to charge Morant with a crime.”
No details were released by the league on the gun, however, Colorado is an open carry state (no permit needed) and it’s certainly possible – if not likely — no laws were broken.
Morant had checked into counseling in Florida but is out now, according to reports.
Throughout the fallout from the incident, the Grizzlies organization has supported Morant and looked for ways to help guide him and help the 23-year-old find his path. Morant the person has been the most important thing in Memphis, not punishment. It was the right way to handle it.
But the Grizzlies could use the All-Star starter back on the court as well as they try to hang on to the No.2 seed in the West.