NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced on Thursday that the league will soon disclose the sanctions, if any, imposed on Memphis guard Ja Morant for his second instance of displaying a gun on social media.
The announcement will be made shortly after the finals, and it remains uncertain whether Morant will be available at the start of the next season.
In March, Morant received an eight-game suspension from the NBA for an incident where he live-streamed himself on Instagram displaying a gun in a suburban Denver club.
Last month, he was suspended by the Grizzlies after another video emerged showing Morant seemingly displaying a firearm.
According to Silver, the league’s ongoing investigation has uncovered additional information. However, the decision was made to delay the announcement to avoid overshadowing the NBA Finals.
Silver mentioned that the NBA Players Association supported this approach, considering it unfair to the teams and players involved in the current series.
The initial suspension resulted in a salary loss of approximately $669,000 for Morant. The second incident occurred during a live stream on the Instagram account of Morant’s associate, Davonte Pack.
In the brief video, Morant can be seen momentarily holding what appears to be a handgun while seated in a vehicle, with 111 viewers at the time.
When determining the appropriate discipline, if any, the league considers prior incidents and the individual player’s history, as well as the seriousness of the conduct.
Silver acknowledged that it is not an exact science and ultimately relies on the judgment of him and his colleagues in the league office.
This marks at least the third NBA investigation related to Morant and potential firearm involvement in 2023.
The first investigation followed a January incident in Memphis, where Morant claimed that Pack, whom he refers to as his brother, was banned from Grizzlies home games for a year.
The incident reportedly involved a red dot being aimed at members of the Indiana Pacers near the loading dock after a game.
The NBA confirmed the banning of unnamed individuals but found no evidence of anyone being threatened with a weapon during its investigation.
Silver said he’s hoping this episode sparks change for Morant.
“He seems to be a fine young man, in terms of my dealings with him,” Silver said. “He’s clearly made some mistakes. But he’s young and I’m hoping now, once we conclude at the end of our process, what the appropriate discipline is, that it’s not just about the discipline. It’s about now what we, the players’ association, his team, he, and the people around him are going to do to create better circumstances going forward. That’s ultimately what’s most important.”
The NBA Finals matchup no longer seems predictable months in advance, and Silver doesn’t mind that fact whatsoever.
Silver, speaking just before the start of a Denver-Miami matchup in the title series, said those two clubs making the finals “speaks a lot to the competitiveness in this league.” This is the league’s sixth different finals matchup in the last six seasons, and nine different teams have played for a title in that span.
“With just a little over a week left in the season, you had 26 teams still competing for the playoffs,” Silver said in his annual pre-finals address. “That’s a record.”
For the first time ever, Denver finds itself in the finals, and Miami joins them as the second team to achieve this feat as a No. 8 seed.
What makes their journey even more remarkable is that Miami had to go through the play-in tournament just to secure a spot in the playoffs.
This finals matchup is particularly intriguing as both teams hail from the mid-range NBA markets. According to Nielsen, Denver ranks at No. 16 in market size, closely followed by South Florida at No. 18.
“I think that’s intriguing,” Silver said.
There’s been no shortage of examples of the same team — or two, even — making the finals on what seems like an annual basis.
Golden State played Cleveland four consecutive times from 2015 through 2018; Miami was in four consecutive finals from 2011 through 2014 and played San Antonio in the last two of those years; and the Los Angeles Lakers played three consecutive finals from 2008 through 2010, two of those matchups against Boston.
There were seven teams with better odds of winning the NBA title going into the season than Miami; there were eight with better odds than Denver.
“Competition is great for the league,” Silver said.