Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has been suspended by the team after he was seen in another social media video holding what appeared to be a gun. This is the second time in less than three months that Morant has been seen in a video with a firearm. The first incident led to an eight-game NBA suspension and the loss of approximately $669,000 in salary. The NBA has stated that it is aware of the recent video and is gathering more information. Morant’s suspension from all team activities is pending league review. The 21-year-old’s talent on the court is undeniable, but his off-court behavior has been a concern for the team. Morant’s five-year, $194 million contract is set to begin this coming season, and it could have escalated to a supermax if he made All-NBA this season, which he did not. This cost him about $39 million in future earnings.
The Grizzlies' season ended in a 40-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Round 1 of the playoffs. The team has been plagued by dysfunction, and coach Taylor Jenkins has stated that the team needs to eliminate “unnecessary drama” going into next season. This is not the first investigation involving Morant and possible involvement with firearms. There was an investigation after a Jan. 29 incident in Memphis and a Denver-area incident in March. Additionally, Morant and a close friend are involved in a civil lawsuit brought after an incident at Morant’s home last summer. In the lawsuit, a then-17-year-old alleged that they assaulted him. Morant filed a countersuit accusing the teen of slander, battery, and assault.
Morant has taken responsibility for his actions and has stated that he plans to make better decisions and change the narrative. The NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has stated that Morant’s conduct was “irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous” and that it has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him. The Grizzlies and the NBA will continue to monitor the situation and determine appropriate sanctions.