No timetable for Ja Morant’s return during ‘healing process’
LOS ANGELES (AP) — There’s no timetable for Ja Morant to return to the Memphis Grizzlies, and the All-Star guard knows he’s made “difficult decisions and poor choices” that he has to be accountable for, coach Taylor Jenkins said Sunday night.
Morant was not with the team in Los Angeles for games against the Clippers on Sunday and the Lakers on Tuesday while the NBA investigates a social media post in which Morant appeared to be holding a gun.
“Very tough moment, for sure,” Jenkins said of the video.
Morant streamed the video on his Instagram account early Saturday of himself holding what appeared to be a gun at a nightclub, hours after playing in Denver. He said in a statement through the agency that represents him that he takes “full responsibility” for his actions and that he was going to “take some time away to get help.”
On Monday, police in Colorado said they were investigating Morant’s actions and whether he may have broken any laws. Morant’s video is believed to have been filmed in Glendale, a small enclave surrounded by Denver and known for its strip clubs and shopping centers.
Capt. Jamie Dillon said police did not receive any calls or complaints about Morant’s actions but began looking into them Saturday after learning about the video circulating online.
Defense lawyers who have represented people on gun charges in Colorado say it is a misdemeanor to possess a gun while under the influence of drugs or alcohol so that is one possible violation authorities could be looking into.
“It may have all been laughter and champagne, but under the eyes of the law, in can get to be a serious situation,” attorney Jeff Weeden said.
The Grizzlies coach said Morant understands he’s made “some difficult decisions and poor choices in the past.”
“He’s definitely embracing the mistakes that he’s made, but only time will tell,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to support him and we’re going to hold him accountable to make those changes.”
Jenkins declined to outline the steps Morant needs to take to rejoin the team, saying: “We love him, we want what’s best for him, we support him. It’s going to be a difficult process but we’ve got a great group to get through this.”
He called it “an ongoing healing process.”
The league, if it finds wrongdoing, could fine or suspend Morant.
Morant also was the subject of a league investigation after a Jan. 29 incident in Memphis that he said led to a friend of his being banned from home games for a year. That incident occurred after a game against the Indiana Pacers. Multiple media outlets reported that members of the Pacers saw a red dot pointed at them, and a team security guard believed the laser was attached to a gun.
The NBA confirmed that unnamed individuals were banned from the arena but said its investigation found no evidence that anyone was threatened with a weapon.
“This is a tough time for a young kid that’s got to grow and get better,” Jenkins said. “He’s got huge responsibilities not just for the team, for the city, but I know how he’s built with that care factor and what steps he’s now taking. It’s a step in the direction of really being the best version of himself.”
Now in his fourth season with the Grizzlies, the 23-year-old two-time All-Star is the father of a young daughter. Jenkins described Morant as “a generally amazing person, great family person, a father, brother, son, member of our community.”
“My hope is that he just gets better,” Jenkins said. “He knows he’s got a lot of love and support.”
Associated Press Writer Colleen Slevin in Denver contributed to this report.
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