The NBA has suspended Memphis Grizzlies star guard Ja Morant for 25 games, effective at the start of the 2023-24 season. The suspension also includes “conditions” for Morant’s return to the league, although those conditions have yet to be revealed.
Morant’s long-awaited suspension follows a pair of Instagram videos in which he was seen brandishing a pistol – first in March, an incident for which he was suspended eight games, and then again in May, when the Grizzlies suspended him indefinitely from all team activities. NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s front office completed their investigation into Morant’s conduct weeks ago, but waited for the conclusion of the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat because he didn’t want to “distract” from the games, a decision to hold back that some cynical fans saw as an opportunity for the league to extend its news cycle between the end of the Finals and the NBA Draft.
ESPN sources: The NBA suspended Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant for 25 games to start the 2023-24 season. pic.twitter.com/EGKRU7WqwO
— Adrien Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 16, 2023
Adrien Wojnarowski, the ESPN reporter who first broke the news of Morant’s suspension, had ruminated earlier in June that the league could suspend Morant for 17 games, which would make him ineligible for postseason awards, while others media (and even former NBA player Chandler Parson) noted that he could be suspended for up to a full season. A 25-game suspension, or nearly a third of the season, is damaging, but the NBA hasn’t cleared the clip as punishment because Morant will be able to return to the field for the lion’s share of the 2023-24 season.
Next season, Morant will begin a five-year, $194 million max deal that would have been elevated to a supermax deal had he made the All-NBA First Team last season. He’s also struck lucrative endorsement deals with Nike and Powerade: Every drop of his signature Ja 1 sneaker sold out almost instantly, but the future of the line is in question, while Powerade released an ad highlighting him. featured after the March incident.
See the NBA’s full statement below.
The NBA today announced that Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been suspended 25 games without pay for conduct harmful to the league.
Morant posed with a gun in a car during a May 13 live video, less than two months after he was suspended eight games without pay for a March 4 live video broadcast in which he showed a gun while intoxicated. state at a Denver-area nightclub.
The league office found that on May 13, Morant intentionally and prominently displayed a firearm while in a car with several other people as they left a social gathering in Memphis. Morant brandished the gun despite knowing he was being recorded and the recording was being streamed on Instagram Live, despite his commitments to the NBA and his public statements that he would not repeat the conduct for which he had been sanctioned before. On May 16, Morant released a statement taking full responsibility for his actions.
Morant’s suspension begins immediately and will remain in effect for the first 25 games of the 2023-24 NBA regular season for which he is otherwise eligible and able to play. He will also have to meet certain conditions before returning to play and will not be able to participate in any public league or team activities, including pre-season games, for the duration of his suspension.
“Ja Morant’s decision to brandish a gun again on social media is alarming and disconcerting given his similar conduct in March for which he has already been suspended eight games,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is of particular concern. In these circumstances, we believe a 25-game suspension is appropriate and sends a clear signal that reckless and irresponsible behavior with firearms does not will not be tolerated.
“For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time. Prior to his return to play, he will need to formulate and execute a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior.
Elsewhere in the world of controversial sports stars, HBO is working on a Barry Bonds documentary.