Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant endured a tumultuous campaign during the 2022-23 NBA season. He featured in only 61 regular games, with injuries and off-the-court incidents limiting his participation on it. He suffered a severe hand injury in the Grizzlies’ first-round playoffs series against the Los Angeles Lakers and struggled to play with his usual tempo.
Morant’s injury gave the Lakers the upper hand in the series, and they capitalized on it. LeBron James and his side beat the Grizzlies in six games and advanced to the Conference semifinals, where they are battling the reigning champions Golden State Warriors for a place in the West finals. The Grizzlies star, who earned his second consecutive All-Star nod this year, will likely look back at one specific off-the-court incident for the derailment of a potentially fruitful campaign.
In early March, Ja Morant was seen flashing a handgun while dancing topless in a strip club in an Instagram live video. The video drew the ire of the Grizzlies and the NBA. In the aftermath of the incident, the team announced that their young star wouldn’t play during their two-game trip to Los Angeles. The Grizzlies did not mention the reason for the suspension. Morant spent five games away from the team and was later handed an eight-game suspension by the NBA, including the five games he had already missed.
Morant issued an apology and vowed to do better, but the damage to his reputation was already done. He finished the regular season averaging 24.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, seven assists, and 1.8 steals per game. But those numbers surprisingly weren’t enough to earn him an All-NBA nod, which cost him about $40 million in salary.
Ja Morant contract: Grizzlies star fails to secure $233 million supermax deal
Before the 2022-23 NBA season commenced, Ja Morant and the Grizzlies agreed to a five-year rookie maximum extension. The contract was projected to be worth $194 million but could have bumped up to $233 million had the Grizzlies star earned the MVP Award, Defensive Player of the Year award, or a place on one of the three All-NBA teams.
Morant failed to win MVP, with Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid taking home the honor. The Grizzlies star’s teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. was named the Defensive Player of the Year, leaving only an All-NBA nod as an avenue to turn his max deal into a supermax. But it wasn’t to be for Morant.
On Wednesday, the league announced its All-NBA first, second, and third teams, and Morant didn’t feature in any of them. Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic and Oklahoma City Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander took the two guard spots on the All-NBA First Team. Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry and Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell featured in the guard positions on the second team. Sacramento Kings’ De’Aaron Fox and Portland Trail Blazers veteran Damian Lillard were named the two guards on the All-NBA third team.
Despite the Grizzlies finishing second in the loaded Western Conference and Morant averaging 26 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists, he was snubbed from all three All-NBA teams. The only viable reason is that the voters were put off by his behavior off the court. Morant’s failure to land an All-NBA spot this season will cost him approximately $40 million in salary over the next five years. A steep price to pay for a lapse in judgment.
FirstSportz is the First Stop for all sports fanatics. Starting in 2019, we initially covered Olympic Sports, but in 2021 we added every other sport which you might be looking for, like NFL, Golf, MLB, WWE Cricket, Football, Tennis, Esports, NBA, MMA and more.