Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant said he is continuing to work on improving his mental health following an eight-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the NBA. Morant recently returned to the team following two weeks of counseling at a facility in Florida after he brandished a handgun in an Instagram Live video stream from a strip club in March. Morant said that he was concerned about his stress levels before the incident but did not want to leave the team during the season.
Morant, who leads the Grizzlies with 27.1 points and 8.2 assists per game, said he realised how much he had at stake during his time off. He said his priority was to be “more responsible, more smarter, and don’t cause any of that no more.” Morant also denied having an alcohol problem and said he went to Florida to “learn how to manage stress, cope with stress in a positive way instead of ways I’ve tried to deal with it before that caused me to make mistakes.”
The NBA suspended Morant after determining that he had been in an “intoxicated state” during the Instagram Live session. Morant said he was uncomfortable with the potential fan response to his return to the court but was focused on becoming a better person. He told the Memphis coaching staff that he was willing to come off the bench as they gradually increased his minutes to normal levels.
Morant’s return to the Grizzlies may give the team a much-needed boost after they lost five of their eight games during his absence. The second-year player has been a key part of the Grizzlies’ success this season and helped lead them to the playoffs last year. The team will look to Morant to help them continue their push for the playoffs over their remaining games.