The NBA’s decision on Ja Morant came in Friday morning. The Association has suspended the Memphis Grizzlies star guard for 25 games to start the 2023-24 regular season.
“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,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning. Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior with guns will not be tolerated.”
On May 14, the Grizzlies suspended Morant after a video on Instagram Live showed him drinking at a Denver nightclub while brandishing a gun. That suspension lasted eight games while he spent time at counseling facility in Florida.
Two months later shortly after Memphis was eliminated from the playoffs in a six-game series with the Lakers, Morant was again seen on Instagram Live dancing in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle flashing a gun for the camera.
Before Morant can return to the court after his suspension, he will have to meet some conditions set by the NBA.
“For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time,” Silver said in the statement. “Prior to his return to play, he will be required to formulate and fulfill a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior.”
Morant released a statement soon after the suspension was announced.
“I’ve had time to reflect and I realize how much hurt I’ve caused,” Morant said. “I want to apologize to the NBA, the Grizzlies, my teammates and the city of Memphis. To Adam Silver, Zach Kleiman and Robert Pera — who gave me the opportunity to be a professional athlete and have supported me — I’m sorry for the harm I’ve done. To the kids who look up to me, I’m sorry for failing you as a role model. I promise I’m going to be better. To all of my sponsors, I’m going to be a better representation of our brands. And to all of my fans, I’m going to make it up to you, I promise.
“I’m spending the offseason and my suspension continuing to work on my own mental health and decision making. I’m also going to be training so that I’m ready to go when I can be back on the court. I know my teammates are going to hold it down and I’m so sorry I won’t be out there with you at the beginning of the season. I hope you’ll give me the chance to prove to you over time I’m a better man than what I’ve been showing you.”
The NBA completed its investigation weeks ago, but Silver informed the media at a presser before Game 1 of the NBA Finals that he’d wait until the Denver-Miami series ended to announce Morant’s suspension.
The NBA said today that Morant “wielded the firearm while knowing that he was being recorded … despite having made commitments to the NBA and public statements that he would not repeat the conduct for which he was previously disciplined.”
The Grizzlies also issued a statement earlier today: “Our standards as a league and team are clear, and we expect that all team personnel will adhere to them.”
Memphis took Morant with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. In his 248 regular-season games across four seasons, he’s averaged 22.4 points, 7.4 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game.
In 2021-22, Morant averaged 27.4 points, 6.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 SPG. In 61 regular-season games this past year, he averaged 26.2 points, 8.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 SPG.
In 19 career postseason games over the last three years, Morant has averaged 27.3 points, 8.6 assists, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 SPG.