No timetable for Ja Morant’s return to the Grizzlies

LOS ANGELES – There is no definitive timeline for Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant to return to the team as he seeks help and the NBA is investigating the Instagram Live video he has released early Saturday morning, in which he displayed what appeared to be a gun while at a nightclub, coach Taylor Jenkins said Sunday ahead of the team’s game against the LA Clippers.

The team originally said Morant would be out for at least two games.

“We said it would be at least those two games,” Jenkins said. “I mean, it’s going to be an ongoing healing process. … It’s really not a timing situation.”

Jenkins said the team is focused on supporting Morant through what “is going to be a difficult process,” but also holding him accountable for his actions.

“We take this very seriously,” Jenkins said. “There is an element of support for someone who has to improve and who needs help. But there is also a responsibility towards the team that we have to defend.

“Obviously nationally, league-wide, gun violence has gotten a lot of attention, and so for us that’s the position we’ve taken on how we can support Ja throughout this growth opportunity. It’s a learning opportunity, and I hope we can be better off through it.”

In 2015, the NBA collaborated with director Spike Lee and The Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund to create several public service announcements about gun violence. Stars such as Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Joakim Noah took part in the public service announcements.

In addition to Saturday’s Instagram video in which he appeared to be showing a gun, Morant has been involved in several incidents in which he or acquaintances of his allegedly brandished a gun.

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 police interviews obtained by The Washington Post, a 17-year-old boy alleged that Morant came out of his house with a gun in his belt and his hand on the gun after a fight between the boy and Morant during a pick up a basketball game in the Grizzlies point guard’s backyard. The other incident was a confrontation with a mall security guard in a parking lot.

“Any allegation involving a firearm has been thoroughly investigated and could not be substantiated,” Jim Tanner, Morant’s agent, said in a statement responding to the Post article. . “That includes the NBA’s investigation last month, in which they found no evidence.”

That investigation stemmed from a postgame confrontation between acquaintances of Morant and the traveling Indiana Pacers following the Grizzlies’ Jan. 29 home win. After the incident, which occurred by the Indiana team bus in the FedExForum loading area and was first reported by The Athletic, NBA security and investigators interviewed de numerous eyewitnesses and reviewed CCTV following allegations made by the Pacers organization that a red laser was pointed at members of the Pacers from an SUV in which Morant was a passenger.

Jenkins was the only member of Grizzlies staff or management to speak publicly before Sunday’s game. The team flew from Denver to Los Angeles on Saturday morning. Morant was not with the team on Sunday and is not in Los Angeles, sources said.

Morant began his Instagram Live session at 5:19 a.m. ET Saturday, hours after the Grizzlies’ 113-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The All-Star guard, who was shirtless and rapping along to the music, could be seen holding what appeared to be a handgun with his left hand. Morant deactivated her Instagram and Twitter accounts on Saturday afternoon.

In a statement, Morant said he took “full responsibility for my actions last night.”

“I’m sorry to my family, my teammates, my coaches, my fans, my partners, the city of Memphis and the entire organization for letting you down,” the statement read. “I’m going to take some time to get some help and work on learning better ways to manage stress and my overall well-being.”

Jenkins said Morant’s acknowledgment of the seriousness of the situation and his willingness to seek help were encouraging.

“The focus right now is on Ja taking responsibility to really get the help he needs to get to a better place,” Jenkins said. “But also… being in a better place to take on the responsibilities and the expectations as a member of this team. That’s what we’re going to support him for, but we’re also going to hold him accountable too.”

The league, if it finds wrongdoing, could fine or suspend Morant.

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