Grizzlies' Ja Morant suspended for 25 games by NBA

How the NBA decided to suspend Ja Morant for 25 games (2:56)

Adrian Wojnarowski details Ja Morant's suspension and how it will affect the Grizzlies next season. (2:56)

The NBA has suspended Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant for 25 games to start the 2023-24 season because of conduct detrimental to the league, it was announced Friday.

The Grizzlies suspended Morant from team activities May 14 after a video on social media circulated showing the All-Star brandishing a firearm. The NBA suspended Morant for eight games following a similar incident in March, when he was seen on Instagram Live holding up a handgun while intoxicated at a Denver-area club.

"Ja Morant's decision to once again wield a firearm on social media is alarming and disconcerting given his similar conduct in March for which he was already suspended eight games," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "The potential for other young people to emulate Ja's conduct is particularly concerning. Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior with guns will not be tolerated."

The suspension will come with conditions for his return, the league said.

"For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time," Silver said in the statement. "Prior to his return to play, he will be required to formulate and fulfill a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior."

Morant will be ineligible to participate in any public league or team activities, including preseason games, during the suspension. Due to make around $33.5 million this season, Morant now stands to lose just over $300,000 per game -- or approximately $7.5 million.

"I've had time to reflect and I realize how much hurt I've caused," Morant said in a statement issued Friday. "I want to apologize to the NBA, the Grizzlies, my teammates and the city of Memphis. To Adam Silver, Zach Kleiman and Robert Pera -- who gave me the opportunity to be a professional athlete and have supported me -- I'm sorry for the harm I've done. To the kids who look up to me, I'm sorry for failing you as a role model. I promise I'm going to be better. To all of my sponsors, I'm going to be a better representation of our brands. And to all of my fans, I'm going to make it up to you, I promise.

"I'm spending the offseason and my suspension continuing to work on my own mental health and decision making. I'm also going to be training so that I'm ready to go when I can be back on the court. I know my teammates are going to hold it down and I'm so sorry I won't be out there with you at the beginning of the season. I hope you'll give me the chance to prove to you over time I'm a better man than what I've been showing you."

The NBA's investigation into the incident has been completed for weeks, but Silver waited until the conclusion of the NBA Finals to announce the suspension because he did not want to distract from the league's championship series.

The NBA on Friday said Morant "wielded the firearm while knowing that he was being recorded ... despite having made commitments to the NBA and public statements that he would not repeat the conduct for which he was previously disciplined."

"The potential for other young people to emulate Ja's conduct is particularly concerning. Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior with guns will not be tolerated. For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time." NBA commissioner Adam Silver

The National Basketball Players Association on Friday expressed its displeasure with the length of Morant's suspension and the arbitrary nature of the conditions for his return.

"Ja has expressed his remorse and accepted responsibility for his actions, and we support him unequivocally as he does whatever is necessary to represent himself, our players and our league in the best possible light," NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said in a statement. "As to the discipline imposed ... we believe it is excessive and inappropriate for a number of reasons, including the facts involved in this particular incident, and that it is not fair and consistent with past discipline in our league."

The NBPA said it would explore "all options and next steps" with Morant.

After the March incident, Morant enrolled in a Florida counseling facility -- to learn how to manage stress better, he later said -- before traveling to New York City to meet with Silver at the commissioner's office.

Silver elected to suspend Morant for eight games without pay because of conduct detrimental to the league -- a punishment that included six games the point guard had already missed -- and issued a stern statement calling Morant's conduct "irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous."

"I think he understood that it wasn't about his words," Silver said during his news conference before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. "It was going to be about his future conduct.

"I guess in hindsight, I don't know. If it had been a 12-game suspension instead of an eight-game suspension, would that have mattered? I know it seemed based on precedent, and he's represented, and we want to be fair in terms of the league, it seemed appropriate at the time. That's all I can say. Maybe by definition to the extent we've all seen the video that it appears he's done it again, I guess you could say maybe not."

The Instagram Live video that emerged in May came from the account of Morant's best friend, Davonte Pack, who has been involved in several of Morant's off-court incidents that merited investigation from the league office.

Pack was banned from attending Grizzlies home games for a year following an investigation into a postgame confrontation with the Indiana Pacers' traveling party on Jan. 29, when a red laser was alleged to have been pointed out of an SUV in which Morant was traveling.

Silver said during his June 1 news conference at the Finals that factors he would weigh in determining the suspension included the "history of prior acts" as well as the "individual player's history" and the "serious of the conduct."

Silver also said Morant not being charged with a crime would not prevent the league from handing down more discipline.

The Grizzlies issued a statement Friday saying they respect the league's decision to suspend Morant.

"Our standards as a league and team are clear," the Grizzlies said, "and we expect that all team personnel will adhere to them."

Including the postseason, Morant has missed 50 games over the past two seasons. The Grizzlies, however, have fared well without their star as they've had a 33-17 record in those games -- including a 20-5 mark during the 2021-22 regular season that is tied for the best win percentage by a team in NBA history in games played without a player averaging 25 points per game or more, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Memphis went 11-10 in games without Morant during this past season, including playoffs.

Morant's five-year, $194 million max contract is set to begin this coming season. It could have escalated to a supermax if he had made All-NBA this season, which he did not, costing him about $39 million in future earnings.

He has endorsement deals with Nike and Powerade, though the sports drink company pulled an ad featuring him after the March video and it currently is not running.

"We are pleased that Ja is taking accountability and prioritizing his well-being," Nike said in a statement issued Friday. "We will continue to support him on and off the court."

Morant averaged 26.2 points this season and helped Memphis secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, where they lost in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers.