The NBA announced on Friday that Memphis Grizzlies standout Ja Morant would be suspended for 25 games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league.
Morant will miss the first 25 games of the 2023-24 season due to suspension, which begins immediately. According to the NBA, Morant must meet certain requirements before he can return to the team. During his ban, Morant is also barred from taking part in any exhibition games or other public events involving the league or his team.
He was already suspended for eight games in March for the same offense (displaying a firearm on social media).
In a statement on Friday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, “Ja Morant’s decision to once again wield a firearm on social media is alarming and disconcerting given his similar conduct in March for which he was already suspended eight games.” It’s especially problematic because Ja’s actions could serve as an example for other young people. We think a 25-game ban is fair and necessary to send a message that careless gun play won’t be permitted under these conditions.
This year, Morant will earn almost $33.5 million. During his ban, he will lose almost $7.5 million in salary or little more than $300,000 per game.
A friend’s Instagram post last month showing Morant with what seemed to be a pistol prompted the NBA to launch a new inquiry into the player. The Memphis Grizzlies had previously barred Morant from participating in team activities in preparation for the NBA’s punishment.
Silver has made it clear that he views Morant’s actions, even if he is not charged with a crime, as having serious repercussions, especially in light of the fact that he is one of the NBA’s most popular players and is looked up to as a role model by both young and old.
On Friday, Morant released a statement in which he apologized for the pain he had caused. I sincerely apologize to the NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies, my teammates, and the city of Memphis. During the offseason and my ban, I’ve been improving my emotional stability and judgment.
I’ll also be working out so that I’m ready to play again as soon as possible. I’m a better man than I’ve been making it seem, and I’d like to show it to you.
In a statement released on Friday, the National Basketball Players Association called the punishment handed down to Morant “excessive.”
“As for the discipline imposed, which keeps him off the court until December and requires some unstated conditions to be met before he can return, we believe it is excessive and inappropriate for a number of reasons, including the facts involving this particular incident, and that it is not fair and consistent with past discipline in our league. All of our options and next steps will be discussed with Ja.
We respect the league’s decision to suspend Ja Morant following this recent incident,” the Memphis Grizzlies said in a statement. Our league and team expectations are quite clear, and we count on everyone associated with the team to uphold them.
The league office discovered that Morant and many others had a gun visible in the backseat of a car as they left a party in Memphis on May 13. Despite assurances to the NBA and public comments that he would not repeat the conduct for which he was previously reprimanded, Morant brandished the handgun while aware that he was being recorded and that the recording was being broadcast live on Instagram Live. Morant delivered a statement on May 16 in which he took full responsibility for his actions.
Silver advised that basketball take a back seat for Ja at the moment. He must work out a plan with the league that addresses the factors that kept him engaging in destructive patterns before he can play again.
As the 2020 Kia Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-Star in his first four seasons, Morant is quickly becoming one of the league’s brightest players. The Memphis Grizzlies had a 51-win season last year and were the second seed in the Western Conference in large part due to his efforts.
As a result of his suspension, Ja Morant will not be able to compete for any postseason honors in 2024, including Most Valuable Player and All-NBA. A player must appear in 65 games (with few restrictions) to be eligible for prizes under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which goes into effect on July 1.
After 25 games in the 2016–17 season, Memphis was 16-9. Morant played 61 games during the 2022–2023 season, averaging 26.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 1.1 steals. Throughout his professional career, Morant has never logged more than 67 games in a season.
Silver told reporters that the NBA’s inquiry into Morant’s behavior had concluded before the first game of the 2023 NBA Finals.
“We’ve uncovered a fair amount of additional information,” Silver stated back then. “We probably could have brought it to a head now,” the commissioner said, “but we made the decision, and I believe the Players Association agrees with us, that it would be unfair to these players and these teams in the middle of the series to announce the results of that investigation.”
Morant received an eight-game suspension from the NBA following the initial incident. The Memphis Grizzlies star said he was sorry for his absence and even sought counseling for a little while.
Meanwhile, Silver went on ESPN and said he was “shocked” by the video. While Morant and his companion were riding in the front seat of a car and rapping along to their favorite music, Morant raised the gun into the frame.
Since “we are, of course, in the offseason,” Silver noted, “he has now been suspended by the Memphis Grizzlies indefinitely,” nothing would change in the next few weeks even if he hadn’t been suspended. It was preferable to put it on hold, at least for the time being, and my current impression is that we will reveal the study results soon after the Finals conclude.