Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has entered a counseling program in Florida and remains without a timetable on a return to the NBA season, sources told ESPN on Monday.
Morant has been seeking assistance for what he described in a statement as a need “to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being,” which has taken him out of Memphis on a leave from the team, sources said.
The franchise announced that Morant, 23, would be out at least through Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat, but there’s no precise timeline on his return to the team. The Grizzlies continue to prioritize Morant’s desire and need to get assistance after a series of concerning incidents that culminated with him brandishing a gun at a suburban Denver nightclub on his Instagram live feed March 4.
The NBA has an ongoing investigation into the matter, and Memphis officials have repeatedly indicated publicly that Morant will be held accountable for a pattern of questionable decision-making and behavior.
Morant, a two-time All-Star, is a former NBA rookie of the year and most improved player for one of the ascending franchises in the league. Before the Grizzlies’ 104-88 win against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters that, “Ja’s fully engaged in this process and ready for whatever comes after the next two games.”
“I’ve said that he’s taking time and responsibility to get better for himself so that he can be better for our team,” Jenkins said. “I’m not going to really comment further until there’s more updates necessary.”
Morant has maintained contact with his teammates, continuing to participate in the Grizzlies’ group text chain and talking to some Memphis players over the phone.
“His spirit has been great so far when I have spoken to him,” Grizzlies point guard Tyus Jones told ESPN. “It’s a unique time. There comes times in life when you’ve got to put yourself first before your family, before basketball, before a lot of other stuff, and I don’t know if a lot of guys have other done that. It’s a time where he’s getting to put himself first, and I think he’s taken advantage of that. I hope he’s taking advantage of that, and it will be good for him.
“Basketball will be here. We support him. We have his back. He knows that, and that’s just what I try to reiterate to him.”
Morant began his Instagram Live session at 5:19 a.m. ET, hours after the Grizzlies’ 113-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets on March 4. Morant could be seen holding up a handgun with his left hand. Morant deactivated both his Instagram and Twitter accounts later that day.
In a statement, Morant said he takes “full responsibility for my actions last night.”
“I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire organization for letting you down,” the statement read. “I’m going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”
Nike, which has a signature shoe line with Morant, backed the Grizzlies star in a statement shortly thereafter.
“We appreciate Ja’s accountability and that he is taking the time to get the help he needs,” the statement read. “We support his prioritization of his well-being.”
Morant’s five-year, $231 million extension with Memphis begins with the 2023-24 season.