May 23, 2024

NBA punishes Grizzlies' Ja Morant for showing gun in club

NBA punishes Grizzlies
AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht

The NBA on Thursday handed Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant an eight-game suspensionwithout payafter displaying a firearm at a club in Denver, saying it was "conduct detrimental to the league."

But the All-Star guard could theoretically return to play as early as next week.

The league will count the six games he already missed towards the suspension. He will also not play when the Grizzlies visit the San Antonio Spurs and when they host the Golden State Warriors. Morant will also forfeit around $669,000 in salary.

"Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement after meeting with Morant in New York.

"It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him."

The NBA's investigation found Morant was holding a firearm while intoxicated, but did not prove he owned the gun "or was displayed by him beyond a brief period." The league also did not find that Morant had the gun with him on Memphis’ flight to Denver, or that he possessed the gun while in any NBA facility.

NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement states that possession of firearms is prohibited not just at a facility or venue used by the team or the league, but also during travel on any NBA-related business.

The CBA also makes it clear that players should provide proof of a firearm license or registration. Any activity that would involve risks of substantial injury, such as activities involving firearms are also prohibited.

The Glendale Police Department in Colorado earlier said they could not determine probable cause to charge Morant with any crimes, saying not enough evidence was available.

Colorado is an open-carry state, which means adults can legally carry guns without a permit. However, what is illegal is possessing a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.

While Morant would be eligible to play again next week against the Dallas Mavericks, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said he's not expecting the 23-year-old guard to actually suit up. ESPN reported that Morant underwent counseling at a Florida facility, with Jenkins confirming that this program as "done for now."

"He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for his behavior," Silver said.

"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 Grizzlies (41-26) are currently second in the Western Conference and is in a tight race with the Sacramento Kings (40-27) for the No. 2 seed.

(With reports from the Associated Press)