Ja Morant’s Latest Gun Incident Could Cost Him Millions
Once again, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant is in trouble for an Instagram Live video in which he appears to be holding a gun.
This time around he could face a lengthy NBA suspension, among other legal consequences.
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In a video posted on Saturday, Morant is shown in a car. It’s unclear where the video takes place, or other circumstances surrounding it. Gun laws vary widely across the country and within states, too. Whether the (apparent) gun belongs to Morant, whether he holds a license to carry and whether the jurisdiction in which he possessed the gun allowed him to carry in that situation are all unknown.
But if Morant was in the wrong state and city, he could face potential criminal charges.
On Sunday, the Grizzlies suspended Morant from all team activities, while NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said the league is gathering information.
Morant’s 2022-23 season ended in the first round of the playoffs when the Lakers upset the Grizzlies, who held the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference after a 51-31 season.
Morant is no stranger to potential criminal charges over guns. In March, the Glendale Police Department in Colorado investigated him after an Instagram Live video showed him holding a firearm at Shotgun Willie’s, which describes itself as “Denver Metro’s premiere and most legendary Gentleman’s club.”
The police ultimately declined to bring charges against Morant, but the NBA suspended Morant eight games, costing him about $669,000 in salary. Commissioner Adam Silver called Morant’s conduct “irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous.” Silver added that Morant’s behavior was especially troubling “given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him.”
The NBA takes gun matters very seriously, going so far as to collectively bargain a provision, Section 9 of Article VI, which explicitly prohibits players possessing a firearm “of any kind” in numerous settings. Players must also notify their teams about firearms and provide proof of registration. Silver also has broad authority to fine and suspend players for “conduct prejudicial or detrimental to the Association.”
If this is a repeat offense, Silver could decide a much lengthier suspension is warranted. Guns are an especially controversial topic these days in light of mass shootings. Silver could reason the NBA would risk reputational harm and damaged relations with fans and business partners if players are associated with questionable use of firearms.
In 2010, Silver’s predecessor, David Stern, suspended Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas an indefinite period that lasted 50 games after Arenas brought guns into a locker room and had an armed showdown with teammate Javaris Crittenton.
Should Morant face a lengthy suspension that starts in 2023-24, he could lose a lot more money for two reasons. First, Morant’s salary jumps from $12,119,440 this year to $33,500,000 next season. Second, under the CBA, a player loses 1/145th of his salary for each missed exhibition, regular season or playoff game when the suspension is fewer than 20 games, but when the suspension is 20 or more games, the player loses 1/110th of their salary for missed exhibition, regular season or playoff games.
Morant’s legal woes aren’t limited to firearms, either. He has been sued by a teenager, whom Morant has countersued, over an incident where Morant allegedly punched the teen after they had a dispute during a pickup game. Morant is accused of showing his gun during the argument.