Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant to miss at least four more games


LOS ANGELES — Ja Morant won’t return to an NBA court for at least another week, though the Memphis Grizzlies star was cleared by Colorado authorities who investigated a social media video in which he appeared to flash a gun.

The Grizzlies announced Wednesday that Morant will remain sidelined for at least the next four games in the wake of an Instagram Live video stream in which he appeared to show off a handgun while dancing and rapping at Shotgun Willie’s, a nightclub in Glendale, Colo. Morant, 23, has missed the past two games since posting the video early Saturday morning.

Memphis Coach Taylor Jenkins said Tuesday that Morant was undergoing a “healing process” and it would be “disrespectful” to put a timetable on his possible return. Morant previously said in a statement that he was “going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better ways of dealing with my stress and my overall well-being.”

Officially, Morant has not yet been suspended by the Grizzlies or the NBA, which opened an investigation into the gun video Saturday.

“We’re keeping those dialogues inside, how we’re framing all that stuff,” Jenkins said Tuesday when asked why Morant’s absence wasn’t deemed a suspension. “That’s our internal business.”

A Glendale Police Department spokesman confirmed Monday that Morant filmed the video inside the nightclub, near Denver, and that a departmental investigation was underway to determine whether Morant was under the influence of alcohol while possessing the firearm. Under Colorado law, such action could lead to a charge of prohibited use of a weapon.

But Glendale police announced Wednesday that they had concluded their investigation without filing charges against Morant or anyone else because “no disturbances were reported” on or after the night of the incident, “no one was threatened or menaced with the firearm” and no gun was located.

Morant’s video came on the heels of a Washington Post story that detailed two incidents last year in which Morant and his friends were accused of violent and threatening behavior — including an allegation that Morant flashed a gun at a teenager after a fight at his Memphis home.

The Grizzlies have lost both of their games during Morant’s absence and slipped to the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed behind the Sacramento Kings. Morant will miss an upcoming home game against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, a home-and-road set with the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday and Monday and a March 15 visit to the Miami Heat.

Under his current timetable, Morant, who is averaging a team-high 27.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 8.2 assists, could return no sooner than a March 17 road game against the San Antonio Spurs. Without their top playmaker and emotional leader, the Grizzlies are at risk of dropping to the West’s No. 4 seed; they hold just a 2½-game lead over the Phoenix Suns entering Wednesday’s games.

The NBA has yet to provide an update on its investigation, and Morant could be subjected to a fine or suspension by the league depending on its findings.

“We take it very seriously,” Jenkins said. “Nationwide, leaguewide, there’s a lot of attention on gun violence.”

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