As far as bad omens go, NBA commissioner Adam Silver saying he’s going to save sharing the results of the Ja Morant investigation until after the Finals because it would be unfair to the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat is pretty bad. Silver’s comments about the pending discipline for one the league’s youngest, brightest stars before Game 1 of the Finals on Thursday were insightful, bordering on remorseful, and likely an indication that the punishment will be significant if not severe.
There’s not really a take in here other than the one that’s been beaten to death already: Morant brought this on himself, and to repeat the same exact mistake mere months after the first violation is dumb on a level only a 23-year-old could manage. The conversation surrounding Morant has varied from toxic to boys will be idiots, but no one seems to be completely out on the Memphis Grizzlies point guard yet.
Adam Silver waxes poetically
Here’s the full quote from Silver that I alluded to earlier. It was in response to a question about whether Ja’s eight-game suspension during the season was harsh enough.
“I’ve thought about that, and (NBA executive vice president, head of basketball operations) Joe Dumars, who is here, was in the room with me when we met with Ja, and he’s known Ja longer than I have. For me at the time, an eight-game suspension seemed very serious, and the conversation we had, and Tamika Tremaglio (the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association) was there, as well, felt heartfelt and serious. But I think he understood that it wasn’t about his words. It was going to be about his future conduct.
“I guess in hindsight, I don’t know. If it had been a 12-game suspension instead of an eight-game suspension, would that have mattered? … It seemed appropriate at the time. That’s all I can say. Maybe by definition, to the extent we’ve all seen the video that it appears he’s done it again, I guess you could say maybe not. But I don’t think we yet know what it will take to change his behavior. (It’s the) same thing I said at the time; he seems to be a fine young man. In terms of my dealings with him, I think he’s clearly made some mistakes, but he’s young, and I’m hoping now — once we conclude at the end of our process what the appropriate discipline is — that it’s not just about the discipline, it’s about now what we, the Players Association, his team and he and the people around him are going to do to create better circumstances going forward.”
Silver’s tongue has always reflected his last name, and the explanation is easy to buy into and empathize with. It still doesn’t change the fact that I’m setting the over/under at 20 games for Morant’s suspension, and taking the overs.
Larger picture for the Grizz
A lot has been and is going to be made of the culture in Memphis, but it’s an easy mistake to fall prey to for small market teams. The constant lust by NBA Twitter and the media to get stars to big markets has furthered the inferiority complex in the organizations outside of L.A., New York, and the like. The tendency to placate is understandable because you don’t want to piss off your guy.
However, now the Grizzlies can be a little more rigid, and that’s a good thing for a roster that arguably led the league in extracurricular outings.
While I don’t know if a curfew will fix their half-court stagnation, it can’t hurt, right? Injuries were a big reason why Memphis got overpowered by the Lakers in the first round, but more mature teams can say “Next man up,” and actually execute without Tyler Herro for a month.
And a similar scenario awaits the Grizzlies at the start of next season, only they’ll be without their superstar, and probably Brandon Clarke, who tore his achilles in March. Dillon Brooks is addition by subtraction, yet they still need to replace him this offseason because he was a real asset until talking shit to LeBron James combusted his brain. Fortunately, Grit and Grind has shown it can play well in Morant’s absence (give me all the Desmond Bane stock), and the Lakers have proven that you can show your ass for half a season and still make a playoff run.
In any case, the word of the day is accountability, and hopefully this is finally a learning experience for Ja Morant.