LOS ANGELES — There is no exact time frame for Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant to return to the team, coach Taylor Jenkins said before the team’s loss to the LA Clippers on Sunday.
The team initially said Morant would be out for at least two games as he seeks help and the NBA investigates an Instagram Live video released Saturday morning in which he brandished what appeared to be a gun in a nightclub.
“We said it was going to be at least these two games,” Jenkins said. “I mean, it’s going to be an ongoing healing process. … It’s not really a timetabled situation.”
Colorado police said Monday they are investigating Morant’s actions and whether he broke 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 strip malls.
Jenkins said the team’s focus is on supporting Morant through the “difficult process” while also holding him accountable for his actions.
“We take this very seriously,” Jenkins said. “There is an element of supporting someone who needs to get better and needs help. But then we have to be accountable to the team we are supposed to support.
“Obviously, there’s been a lot of focus around gun violence around the country, around the league, so for us it’s a position about how we can support Jah throughout his growth opportunity. It’s a learning opportunity and we hope we can be. better than that.’
In 2015, the NBA teamed up with director Spike Lee and The Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund to make several public service announcements about gun violence. Stars such as Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Joakim Noah participated in the PSA.
In addition to Saturday’s Instagram video, Morant has been involved in several incidents where he or someone he knows has brandished a firearm.
A Washington Post article published Wednesday detailed two incidents involving Morant this summer that resulted in police reports but no arrests. In the second incident, according to a police interview obtained by The Washington Post, a 17-year-old boy allegedly left the Morant home with a gun in his waistband and a weapon in hand. A Grizzlies player’s backyard basketball game. Another incident was a confrontation with a mall security guard in a parking lot.
“Any and all allegations involving firearms have been fully investigated and cannot be confirmed,” Jim Tanner, Morant’s agent, said in response to the Post’s story. “That includes the NBA’s investigation last month, where they found no evidence.”
The investigation stemmed from a postgame altercation between Morant’s acquaintances and an Indiana Pacers traveling party following the Grizzlies’ Jan. 29 home win. NBA security and investigators interviewed multiple witnesses and reviewed video surveillance following allegations that the Pacers were targeted with a red laser following the incident, which occurred on the Indiana team bus in the FedExForum loading area and was first reported by The Athletic. Pacers members from a sports car in which Morant was a passenger.
Jenkins was the only member of the Grizzlies team or management to speak publicly before Sunday’s game that Morant did not attend. The team flew from Denver to Los Angeles on Saturday morning; Morant was not with the team Sunday and was not in Los Angeles, sources said.
After Sunday’s game, Grizzlies players expressed confidence that Morant will take the necessary steps toward accountability and the team’s ability to move forward.
“He’s a tough guy, a tough guy,” Desmond Bain said. “If he’s ready to come back, we’ll welcome him back with open arms.”
Tyce Jones, who said he has spoken with Morant several times since the Instagram Live video was posted, described the situation as an “emotional time” and “something we deal with at home.”
“I’m sure Jah will go about his business and continue to do what he needs to do to get himself in the right place,” Jones said. “When it’s time to continue playing basketball, he’ll be ready … whenever.”
Morant began his Instagram Live session at 5:19 a.m. Saturday morning after the Grizzlies’ 113-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Shirtless and rapping along to the music, the star guard can be seen holding what appears to be a handgun in his left hand. Morant deactivated his Instagram and Twitter accounts on Saturday afternoon.
Morant said in a statement that he “takes full responsibility for my actions last night.”
“To my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire organization, I apologize for the disappointment,” the statement read. “I’m going to take some time off to get help and work on learning better ways to deal with stress and my overall well-being.”
Jenkins said Morant’s recognition of the severity of the situation and willingness to seek help is heartening.
“The focus now is to take responsibility for getting Ja the help he needs to get to a better place,” Jenkins said. “But … being in a good place to take on the responsibilities and expectations as a member of this team. We support him, but we also hold him accountable.”
The league could fine or suspend Morant if it finds wrongdoing. The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits players from possessing firearms at an NBA facility or traveling on league business. In 2010, the NBA suspended Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas indefinitely for bringing a weapon into the team’s locker room.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.