MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said Thursday that members of the organization had spoken to All-Star guard Ja Morant about his off-the-court conduct before he posted a video in which he appeared to be displaying a gun in a strip club.
The team had been hoping to avoid a situation like what happened this past weekend, which led to Morant being away from the team for at least six games, Jenkins said before Thursday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors.
“We have had conversations in the past trying to guide him and help him continue to evolve as a person and a player,” Jenkins said of the discussions before the incident in Glendale, Colorado. “Obviously, this came to a head the other day, so we put this process into action.”
Morant, the team’s leading scorer, livestreamed the video of himself with the apparent weapon on his Instagram account after the Nuggets beat the Grizzlies on Friday night. Glendale police said Wednesday there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against Morant.
The Grizzlies initially announced the 23-year-old would miss at least two games. Immediately after Glendale police said they would not pursue charges, the team said he would not play at least four more games.
That means the earliest Morant could return would be March 17 at San Antonio. The Grizzlies entered Thursday’s game tied with Sacramento for second in the Western Conference.
“There are definitely steps that are going to have to be met — personally and professionally,” Jenkins said, “as he deals with some stuff personally to get better.”
Morant’s absence comes with Memphis on a three-game losing streak. Reserve center Brandon Clarke tore his left Achilles tendon in Friday night’s loss at Denver, ending his season. The team also announced Thursday that starting center Steven Adams, who was expected to return to action soon, would be re-evaluated in four weeks due to a knee injury.
But Morant’s situation has drawn the most attention because of concerns about the behavior of one of the NBA’s most electrifying players.
“Everyone wants to know what's this going to be,” Jenkins said of Morant’s absence. “It’s the hot topic for sure. But he’s taking time. The responsibility to get better personally. That’s a big factor in this.”