Adam Silver calls Ja Morant’s suspension ‘appropriate,’ cites gun violence as concern

LAS VEGAS — NBA commissioner Adam Silver called Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension “appropriate” and said that he and the league purposely left the terms of Morant’s reinstatement “ambiguous.”

“The 25-game suspension was left somewhat ambiguous because I wanted to work it out with him,” Silver said Monday to the annual Associated Press Sports Editors conference. “I didn’t want to then further impose check-the-box requirements in terms of coming back. I wanted to come up with a program that was mutually agreeable in terms of him getting his life in order before he returns to NBA basketball.”

Morant was suspended to begin the 2023-24 season because of multiple gun-related incidents in which he flashed a weapon on social media. The league previously suspended Morant eight games after the first offense in March.

Morant sought mental health treatment during that suspension. Silver affirmed Monday that Morant was continuing that treatment.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension was “appropriate.” (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File)

“As I understand it, he is continuing to seek help and I know there’s enormous pressure that comes with being an NBA player, particularly a superstar player,” Silver said.

NBA Players Association executive director Tamika Tremaglio pushed back on the 25-game punishment, calling it “excessive and inappropriate.” Silver said because it was Morant’s second offense, “it was necessary then under the circumstances to further suspend him.”

“I’m certainly empathetic to the pressures he faces, but I also feel particularly around guns and the gun violence we’re seeing among young people in our society that this is something we have to take incredibly seriously. This is not an attempt to weigh in on what the appropriate gun restrictions should be,” Silver said.

Silver also said that the new CBA’s game minimum requirements for the league’s annual awards, such as MVP and All-NBA teams, was not taken into consideration when levying the suspension.

Silver says Las Vegas, Seattle expansion teams have ‘enormous interest’

The league’s media rights deal is set to expire after the 2024-25 season, and many expect a round of expansion because of the influx of money stemming from the new deal. Silver confirmed the league will begin “exclusive negotiating periods” with the league’s current partners in the spring.

With the new CBA now in effect and once the rights deals are done, the league “will turn to expansion,” Silver said.

“There’s no doubt there’s enormous interest in this market [Las Vegas],” Silver said. “ … I think of our Summer League as the 31st franchise. We have almost 80 games here. We really occupy the field for the first two weeks in July in this town. It’s become bigger every year. There’s an enormous amount of interest in it, so I feel like we have a huge, a huge footprint here.”

The league recently announced the details of the new in-season tournament, which will hold its semifinals and championship game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in December.

Silver also mentioned Seattle as another city with “enormous interest” for expansion. That city has not had an NBA franchise since 2008.

However, Silver said no discussions for any expansion teams or cities are currently ongoing.

“We are not engaged in that process now,” Silver said. “I mean, we’re not taking meetings right now with any potential groups. What we’re saying to everyone privately is the same thing I’m saying publicly, that there’ll be a very open process at the time we’re ready to consider expansion. But that’s not yet now.”

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