N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday said that the league would wait until the conclusion of the finals to announce the findings of its latest investigation into the behavior of Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, as well as any potential discipline of him.
On May 13, Morant appeared to brandish a firearm in public for the second time in just over two months, prompting the investigation. Silver declined to say whether Morant would be available to play for the Grizzlies at the start of next season.
“I would say we probably could’ve brought it to a head now,” Silver said at a news conference in Denver before Game 1 of the championship series between the Nuggets and the Miami Heat. “But we made the decision, and I believe the players’ association agrees with us, that it would be unfair to these players and these teams in the middle of the series to announce the results of that investigation.”
Morant is a two-time All-Star and already one of the league’s most exciting players at 23 years old. In March, the N.B.A. suspended him for eight games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league after he appeared in an Instagram Live video “holding a firearm in an intoxicated state” while visiting a nightclub near Denver, according to a league statement. Soon after the video’s streaming, Morant left the team and checked into a counseling facility in Florida. Following his return to the Grizzlies, Morant told reporters that he had spent his time at the facility learning how to better deal with stress and improve himself.
But last month, a new Instagram Live video appeared to show Morant flashing a gun, this time while riding in a vehicle. The Grizzlies, who had already been eliminated from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, quickly suspended Morant from all team activities pending the league’s review of the video.
On Thursday, Silver said the league had “uncovered a fair amount of additional information,” but he did not elaborate.
Silver was also asked whether he thought the league’s initial eight-game suspension had sent a strong enough message to Morant. At the time, Silver said, Morant seemed “heartfelt and serious” in his conversations with league officials.
“But I think he understood that it wasn’t about his words, that it was going to be about his future conduct,” Silver said. “So, 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?”
He added: “It seemed appropriate at the time. Maybe, by definition, to the extent — we’ve all seen the video. It appears he’s done it again. So I guess you could say, maybe not. But I don’t think we yet know what it will take to change his behavior.”
The N.B.A. has penalized players for similar types of acts. During the 2009-10 season, for example, Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards was suspended 50 games for bringing guns into the team’s locker room, which violates league policy. Arenas, who was a three-time All-Star at the time, also appeared to make light of the situation by making finger gun gestures at a game while the league was still investigating his behavior.
Silver described Morant as “a fine young man” who has “clearly made some mistakes.”
“But he’s young,” Silver said, “and I’m hoping now that once we conclude at the end of our process what the appropriate discipline is, that it’s not just about the discipline, that it’s about what we, the players’ association, his team, and he and the people around him are going to do to create better circumstances going forward. I think that’s what’s ultimately most important here.”
Sopan Deb contributed reporting from Denver.