Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Jones, Point Guard, Bane

NBA commissioner Adam Silver told reporters during a press conference on Thursday that the league won’t announce the results of its latest Ja Morant investigation until after the NBA Finals. However, Silver’s comments seemed to hint that a harsh punishment is on the way for the Grizzlies guard, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, and Brian Windhorst of ESPN (Twitter video link), among others.

“It was very unusual for him to basically say, ‘I know what I’m going to do but I’m not going to announce it now,'” Windhorst said on ESPN’s Get Up. “The second part is that he brought up that he’s working alongside the Players Association on this. He’s obviously bringing them along side by side. Trust me, typically the Players Association isn’t there as the discipline is being decided on and doled out.

“So this is a situation that is wide-ranging, and quite frankly, the indication here is that this is going to be a significant suspension. The tone and the tenor and the fact that the Players Association is involved does not indicate this is going to be something similar to what we’ve seen before. And I also think that Adam Silver’s expecting for there to be a lot of reaction to what he does. He doesn’t want it to be a story line during the Finals. So take all of that under advisement as you consider what’s headed for Ja Morant.”

Asked during Thursday’s press conference whether the NBA was too lenient in suspending Morant for eight games earlier this year after a similar viral video in which he flashed a gun, Silver admitted he wasn’t sure, as Amick relays.

“If it had been a 12-game suspension instead of an eight-game suspension, would that have mattered?” Silver said. “… It seemed appropriate at the time. That’s all I can say. Maybe by definition, to the extent we’ve all seen the video that it appears he’s done it again, I guess you could say maybe not.

“But I don’t think we yet know what it will take to change his behavior. (It’s the) same thing I said at the time; he seems to be a fine young man. In terms of my dealings with him, I think 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 and he and the people around him are going to do to create better circumstances going forward.”

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Addressing the Morant situation on Friday at an NBA Cares event in Denver, Silver clarified that the league’s biggest concern at this point is about “gun safety” rather than whether or not any state’s laws are being broken. “I feel across the board, regardless of what people’s individual views are on gun rights, everyone feels firearms should be handled in a safe way, and waving them around or displaying them in a certain context is not consistent with gun safety and is not the proper message that an NBA player, particularly one at Ja’s level, should be sending to the tens of millions of followers he has,” Silver said, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
  • While Tyus Jones is capable of stepping into the Grizzlies’ starting lineup if Morant is suspended to start the 2023/24 season, the team will likely target a reliable backup point guard or a play-maker at another position this offseason in order to provide additional depth behind Jones, says Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.
  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal takes a look at how Desmond Bane continued to evolve and improve in his third NBA season, noting that Bane was solid on defense and made progress toward becoming an “efficient three-level scorer” on offense. Bane will eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.
  • Denver’s run to the NBA Finals can serve as inspiration for the Grizzlies, according to Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Like the Nuggets with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Memphis has a core it wants to build around (Morant, Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr.) and – barring further off-court setbacks with Morant – can focus on continuing to upgrade its roster around that trio, Giannotto writes.
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