Ja Morant issued 8-game suspension without pay, eligible for Grizzlies return Monday
Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant was reported Monday to have entered a counseling program in Florida after a string of off-court incidents. The league announced Wednesday that the games he has already missed will count toward an eight-game suspension without pay.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that the 23-year-old had left his counseling program. After Morant's almost two-week absence from the team, the All-Star guard is eligible to return Monday against the Dallas Mavericks.
According to the league's statement, Morant met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver to discuss his conduct, deemed to be "detrimental to the league."
"Ja's conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous," Silver said in the release. "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 league also announced the findings of its probe, which began after Morant went live on Instagram and flashed what appeared to be a gun at a Colorado nightclub just hours after the team played the Denver Nuggets earlier this month. Morant hasn’t played since.
The NBA's investigation found the gun in Morant's video did not belong to him. It also determined Morant did not possess the gun during travel with the team. Colorado authorities did not find sufficient evidence to charge Morant with a crime.
The Colorado outing came shortly after a recent report from the Washington Post detailed allegations Morant assaulted a teenager and threatened him with a gun during a pickup game at his house last summer. He was also accused of threatening the head of security at a Memphis mall in a separate incident.
Earlier this season, Morant’s entourage allegedly threatened Indiana Pacers staff members after a contentious game in Memphis. Staff members claimed someone riding in Morant’s slow-moving SUV aimed a red laser at them, and they believed the laser was attached to a gun.
At a turning point in his life and career, Morant apologized after his social media activity from the Colorado nightclub made headlines. The team announced later that day he would step away for at least two games, which was then extended to four additional games.
“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 Grizzlies organization for letting you down," Morant said in his initial apology. “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.”
In Morant's absence, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins was vague, but appeared to be supportive. It's unclear if he will immediately start Morant once he is eligible. Sitting at second place in the Western Conference, the Grizzlies have three more games (Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors) until Morant's potential return.