Memphis Grizzlies general manager Zach Kleiman said the 25-game suspension the NBA imposed on guard Ja Morant was “appropriate” and it was up to Morant to change the behavior that led to two suspensions in four months have led.
The Grizzlies’ vice president of basketball operations made the comments after Thursday night’s NBA draft. Kleiman is the first team official to speak publicly on social media after the season about Morant’s situation and the NBA’s punishment of the two-time All-Star for displaying a gun.
Kleiman said the latest incident is part of a pattern of “problematic behavior” for Morant, the 2019 No. 2 overall and 2020 Rookie of the Year.
“At this point, it doesn’t matter until he pulls it off,” Kleiman said. “I don’t care about words. Yeah gotta prove it.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the latest suspension on June 16, and Silver made it clear that the guard needed to break his “alarming” habit of displaying guns on social media.
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The ban for the upcoming season comes a month after a second video of Morant drawing a gun was streamed online. The video, in which Morant points a gun while sitting in the passenger seat of a car, was released following his eight-game suspension in March for video showing him showing a gun at a Denver-area strip club.
The Grizzlies suspended Morant from team activities indefinitely after the second video surfaced. The team had only issued a statement that it supported the NBA’s punishment for this “latest episode.”
Morant is expected to earn around $33.5 million this season. He’s now expected to drop just over $300,000 a game — or about $7.5 million. The NBA also said he had to meet certain conditions before being reinstated.
Silver said the two-time All-Star’s decision-making was “troubling.”
Morant apologized to everyone after his last suspension by his representatives.
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Apparently there is still some debate over what Morant will be allowed to do during lockdown. Kleiman reckons that once Morant is “reintegrated into the team environment” he will be able to participate in individual training and conditioning sessions and have access to the team’s medical facilities.
The Grizzlies are without Morant for their first 25 games when the season begins in October, and the guard has zero forgiveness.
“There’s no room for regression,” Kleiman said. “Ja has a chance to come back from it. And everyone wants them to be successful.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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