Ja Morant will be away from the Memphis Grizzlies for at least their next two games, the team said Saturday not long after the NBA opened an investigation into a social media post by the guard after he live streamed himself holding what appeared to be a gun at a nightclub.
The superstar guard issued an apology Saturday afternoon after the Grizzlies announced that he would be taking time away from the team.
Statement from Ja Morant: pic.twitter.com/HpTF3WvI00
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 4, 2023
The video was streamed by Morant to his Instagram page, and it was not archived once he stopped the stream. The Grizzlies played in Denver on Friday night; they fly to Los Angeles on Saturday for games against the Clippers on Sunday and the Lakers on Tuesday.
Statement from the Memphis Grizzlies pic.twitter.com/CLB2TG5nnI
— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) March 4, 2023
Morant will miss those two games, at minimum, the Grizzlies said, without any further comment.
“We are aware of a social media post involving Ja Morant and are investigating,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said Saturday.
The league, if it finds wrongdoing, could fine or suspend Morant. Based on the Grizzlies’ statement, the earliest Morant could play again is Thursday at home against Golden State. It was not immediately clear if he was going to accompany the Grizzlies on their trip to Los Angeles.
Memphis is currently No. 2 in the Western Conference standings, led by Morant, a two-time All-Star averaging 27.1 points and 8.2 assists per game.
This is at least the second time in the last few weeks that Morant has been the subject of a league investigation. Morant’s actions were investigated by the league after a Jan. 29 incident in Memphis that he said led to a friend of his being banned from home games there for a year.
The NBA confirmed that unnamed individuals were banned from the arena but said its investigation found no evidence that anyone was threatened with a weapon.
Morant responded to that incident by tweeting that the reports “paint this negative image on me and my fam. & banned my brother from home games for a year. unbelievable.” During the Jan. 29 game, there was barking between Pacers players and friends of Morant seated along the sideline. A close friend of Morant’s, Davonte Pack, was escorted from the arena as Pacers bench players shouted in Pack’s direction.
Pack and Morant also are involved in a civil lawsuit brought after an incident at Morant’s home this past summer, in which a 17-year-old alleged that they assaulted him. The Shelby County district attorney’s office said in January that it was “aware of the incident, and after careful review of the facts, decided that there was not enough evidence to proceed with a case.”
Morant, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, has become a full-fledged superstar. His five-year, $194 million extension with the Grizzlies kicks in to start next season and would rise to about $230 million if he makes an All-NBA team this season.
He also is a sought-after endorser. On Christmas, Nike unveiled Morant’s first signature shoe, which is set to be released in the coming weeks. And earlier this week, Powerade announced a multiyear endorsement deal with Morant.
On the same day the Powerade deal was revealed, The Washington Post published a story, based on police records it obtained, detailing how Morant and some associates “have been accused of threatening and even violent behavior,” the newspaper said.