Amick: All Ja Morant had to do was learn from his suspension. He didn’t. Now what?
Just three weeks ago, as Ja Morant’s Grizzlies were battling the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, retired NBA player Gilbert Arenas was asked yet again to help the rest of us understand the mentality of the Memphis star whose March 6 gun scandal had stained his reputation and threatened his career.
The Memphis Grizzlies have suspended Ja Morant from all team activities after a video showing the star guard holding a gun began circulating on social media Saturday night.
The Grizzlies announced the suspension, which is pending a league review, in a statement Sunday, two months after the NBA suspended Morant over a similar incident. The team did not provide further comment.
“We are aware of the social media post involving Ja Morant and are in the process of gathering more information,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement Sunday.
On Saturday, during an Instagram Live session on Morant’s friend Davonte Pack’s account, the All-Star flashed a handgun while driving and singing along with a rap song. The video has since been deleted.
Morant left the Grizzlies and entered a counseling program in March after a video showed him holding a gun while intoxicated at a Denver club when the Grizzlies were in town to play the Nuggets. He was eventually suspended eight games after meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who called Morant’s conduct “irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous.”
At the time of the suspension, Morant told ESPN in an interview that he realizes “what I have to lose” and said he would try to be “more responsible, more smarter and staying away from all the bad decisions.”
Morant has been involved in several off-court incidents over the past year. He is being sued by a high school prospect after a fight during a pickup game in Morant’s back yard, where Morant and Pack are alleged to have punched the boy in the head. The teenager told police that Morant entered his house after the fight and came back outside with a gun in his waistband.
Pack was banned from attending games at Memphis’ FedExForum after a postgame confrontation with the Pacers’ traveling party. Pack was escorted out of his courtside seat after stepping onto the floor during the game to confront Pacers players.
After the game, following an argument between Morant’s associates and members of the Pacers’ traveling party in the arena’s loading dock area, a red laser was pointed from an SUV in which Morant was riding. An NBA investigation “could not corroborate that any individual threatened others with a weapon.”
In the wake of the Grizzlies’ first-round playoff elimination, Morant said he needed to be more disciplined.
“I’ve just got to be better with my decision-making,” he said after a 125-85 loss to the Lakers on April 28. “That’s pretty much it. Off-the-court issues affected us as an organization pretty much. Just [need] more discipline.”
Morant’s five-year, $194 million max contract is set to begin this coming season. It could have escalated to a supermax if he made All-NBA this season; he was not voted onto that team, which cost him about $39 million in future earnings. He has endorsement deals with Nike and Powerade, though the sports drink company pulled an ad featuring Morant almost immediately after the March video emerged.
Morant averaged 26.2 points this season and helped Memphis secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
In the aftermath of a blowout elimination loss in the Western Conference semifinals, the Phoenix Suns fired coach Monty Williams on Saturday night, the team announced.
New Suns owner Mat Ishbia made the decision to dismiss Williams immediately after Thursday night’s Game 6 loss to the Denver Nuggets and had general manager James Jones called him on Saturday night and deliver the news, sources said.
Williams won an NBA Coach of the Year award and reached the NBA Finals while helping to resurrect the franchise from one of the league’s laughingstocks into the winningest team in the NBA over the past three seasons.
The pressure on Williams increased from the moment Ishbia engineered the trade deadline deal for Kevin Durant in February, shortly after Ishbia’s ownership group was approved by the league’s Board of Governors.