The timetable for Ja Morant’s return to the Memphis Grizzlies is unofficially as long as it takes.
Head coach Taylor Jenkins said the Grizzlies don’t expect Morant to return right away after missing “at least two games.”
That was the initial assessment from the franchise when Morant was suspended for off-court behavior, including an early morning video posted online that purportedly shows the All-Star guard brandishing a pistol at a strip club. The video went up a few hours after the Grizzlies lost on the road to the Denver Nuggets Friday night.
“We want what’s best for him. We support him. It’s going to be a difficult process, but we’ve got a great group to get through this,” Jenkins said Sunday.
Police in Glendale, Colo., outside of Denver, said in a statement on Monday the department is investigating whether Morant violated gun laws. They said the Instagram Live video featuring Morant originated at a bar in Glendale.
Possessing a firearm while under the influence of alcohol is illegal in Colorado, an open-carry state that also prohibits weapons possession on federal property.
The NBA ultimately will have a say in when Morant returns.
One of the faces of the league and a contender for NBA Most Valuable Player, Morant appears in the video days after a report in The Washington Post said Morant had been accused of assaulting a teenager and threatening him with a gun after a neighborhood pickup game. Less is known about other alleged incidents involving Morant and his family or associates, including alleged threats made to mall security after Morant’s mother was involved in a disagreement at a Finish Line store.
“We are aware of a social media post involving Ja Morant and are investigating,” Mike Bass, NBA spokesman, said after reports surfaced that Morant violated NBA rules by taking a weapon on a team charter flight to Denver.
A violation of that NBA rule could result in a lengthy suspension.
The league also was made aware by Indiana Pacers staff members of an incident they described as an “aggressive confrontation” outside of Memphis’ home arena earlier this season. Morant’s friends allegedly threatened and trained a red laser from a slow-moving SUV on members of the Pacers’ staff.
Morant, 23, didn’t play Sunday when the Grizzlies visited the Los Angeles Clippers and is out for Tuesday’s game at the same venue against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane said Sunday teammates are ready to accept and welcome Morant back as soon as he’s ready.
“We’re a big family,” Bane said. “We’re wrapping our arms around him and showing our love to him. … He’s a resilient guy, tough-minded guy. Whenever he’s ready to come back, we’ll welcome him with open arms.”
Morant apologized in a statement over the weekend, and his social media accounts since were deactivated.
“I take full responsibility for my actions last night,” the statement read. “I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organization for letting you down. I’m going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”
Morant is averaging 27.1 points, 8.2 assists and 6.0 rebounds in 53 games (all starts) this season. He was named to his second straight All-Star Game.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.