Memphis Grizzlies general manager Zach Kleiman said he felt Ja Morant's 25-game suspension from the NBA was "appropriate" and that he wants the All-Star guard to focus on the steps ahead to gain reinstatement from the league
Kleiman was the first team official to publicly address the suspension of Morant, who brandished a handgun in a viral video for the second time to prompt the punishment.
The suspension for conduct detrimental to the league covers the first 25 games of the 2023-24 regular season and includes conditions for reinstatement. Morant is ineligible to participate in any public league or team activities, including preseason games, during the course of his suspension.
"We're certainly disappointed with the behavior that transpired as we got in the offseason. The discipline from the NBA, I think, is appropriate," Kleiman said Thursday night. "The thing to focus on at this point, and there's ongoing discussion now with the league, the union and Ja's representatives: What's Ja going to admit to going forward? What are the steps he's prepared to take for the NBA to grant the ability to rejoin the team after the suspension."
Kleiman noted that while there has been positive dialogue with Morant, he wants to see more.
"At this point, it doesn't matter until he follows through. Couldn't care less about words," Kleiman said. "Ja has to prove it. It's easy to say the right things."
Commissioner Adam Silver announced Morant's most recent suspension on June 16. Morant issued an apology on that day and said he is working on his "mental health and decision making" in order to prove he's "a better man than what I've been showing you."
The latest video, which was on Instagram Live, featured Morant waving a gun while sitting in the passenger's seat of a car and listening to rap music. The clip was released on May 13, and the Grizzlies suspended the guard from all team activities the following day
It was the second time in three months that Morant was caught with a firearm on social media. He previously was suspended eight games and sought counseling after a March 4 incident in which he filmed himself holding a gun at a Denver strip club following a loss to the Nuggets.
Morant, 23, is coming off his fourth season with Memphis after the Grizzlies selected him with the second overall pick in the 2019 draft. A two-time All-Star, Morant averaged 26.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 8.1 assists in 61 games (59 starts) in 2022-23
--Field Level Media