NBPA Calls Morant’s Suspension “Excessive, Inappropriate”

The NBA made its long-awaited announcement on Friday regarding the investigation into Ja Morant, issuing a press release stating that the Grizzlies guard will serve a 25-game suspension to open the 2023/24 season.

The league’s announcement indicated that, in order to be reinstated, Morant will also “be required to formulate and fulfill a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior.”

Morant put out a statement expressing remorse for his actions and essentially accepting his punishment. However, the National Basketball Players Association isn’t happy with the league’s decision to both suspend the 23-year-old for nearly a third of the season and require him to meet conditions in order to return. The players’ union issued a statement of its own on Friday afternoon.

“Ja has expressed his remorse and accepted responsibility for his actions, and we support him unequivocally as he does whatever is necessary to represent himself, our players and our league in the best possible light,” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said in a press release.

“As to the discipline imposed, which keeps him off the court until December and requires some unstated conditions to be met before he can return, we believe it is excessive and inappropriate for a number of reasons including the facts involved in this particular incident, and that it is not fair and consistent with past discipline in our league. We will explore with Ja all options and next steps.”

While Tremaglio doesn’t get into specifics, it’s probably safe to assume that the NBPA objects to the length of the suspension for an act that didn’t break any laws and didn’t subject Morant to any criminal charges. His history of off-court incidents clearly factored heavily into the NBA’s decision to suspend him for 25 games for briefly showing a gun in an Instagram Live video.

According to ESPN, Morant’s suspension is the eighth-longest in league history. Miles Bridges‘ 30-game ban, handed out in April, is considered one of the seven suspensions longer than Morant’s, even though Bridges will only be required to sit out 10 games once he signs a contract.

As legal expert Michael McCann observes (via Twitter), even if the NBPA doesn’t support Morant’s behavior any more than the NBA does, the union has a legal duty to ensure that the league isn’t establishing new precedents that could be used to discipline players more harshly in the future.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link) there’s a 30-day window in which to file a grievance, so Morant will have until mid-July to decide whether or not to fight the suspension. The grievance would have to be filed by Morant rather than the NBPA, Marks adds.

The union will meet with Morant to discuss possible next steps, tweets Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.

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