In June, Morant was suspended for at least 25 games following a second incident of brandishing a gun in public. When he announced the suspension, Silver said he wants to assess Morant’s readiness to return before reinstating him. He indicated Saturday that the two-time All-Star is moving in the right direction.
“I have been monitoring this situation closely,” Silver told reporters before the in-season tournament finale in Las Vegas. “We together laid out a program for him over the last several weeks, and to the best of my knowledge, he’s complied with everything he’s been asked to do.”
Memphis has gotten off to a rough start without its best player, languishing toward the bottom of the Western Conference standings at 6-15. If Morant’s suspension is limited to 25 games, he will be eligible to return for a December 19 contest at New Orleans.
The two-time All-Star was suspended for eight games last season after an online video clip showed him waving a gun in a nightclub near Denver. A second video was later posted of Morant holding a gun and dancing while riding in a vehicle with friends, leading to his second suspension.
“We’re going to talk directly once, at least this week, before he comes back,” Silver said, “(and) I think we’ll review the program and just make sure the conditions are in place for him to be successful going forward.”
The commissioner addressed several other topics in his press conference:
- Silver clarified comments on load management made before the start of the season by NBA executive vice president Joe Dumars, Vardon states. Explaining the league’s new player participation policy, Dumars indicated there’s no data showing that load management is effective. Silver said resting players can lead to better performances, but there’s no hard evidence that it prevents injuries. “The question is, I think the ultimate notion behind load management isn’t so much that there isn’t a fall for performance when you’re tired and fatigued,” Silver explained. “The question is does it lead to more injuries and especially the way load management is now used?”
- Silver said he was “surprised” that Tamika Tremaglio stepped down as executive director of the NBPA after a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached this summer, according to Vardon. “As far as I can tell from the outside, it’s been a very smooth transition there to Andre Iguodala as I guess the interim executive director,” Silver said. “Nothing has changed in terms of our day-to-day relations with them, and I have no other knowledge about why either the players association or Tamika decided to, you know, change the relationship.”
- Colorful courts will remain part of future in-season tournaments, Vardon adds in a separate story. Silver called himself “a big advocate” of the courts, saying they’re an indication that the game is something special. Silver also hinted that specially designed courts could be used in the NBA Finals. Other aspects of the tournament will be reviewed, particularly using point differential as the primary tie-breaker, the commissioner stated.