Ja Morant’s Off-Court Activities Have Already Cost Him $58 Million
(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
— Updated on 17 May 2023

Ja Morant’s Off-Court Activities Have Already Cost Him $58 Million

— Updated on 17 May 2023

Ja Morant has a lot to lose. His unique talent and persona have made him an obvious superstar in the NBA, earning him lucrative endorsements with Nike and Powerade on top of an enormous player salary from the Memphis Grizzlies. Unfortunately, the 23-year-old point guard isn’t just dropping dimes on the court – he’s dropping millions of real-life dollars off it. And with Ja Morant’s latest pending suspension to punctuate a string of controversies from this past year, we’re starting to get a little concerned about some of his lifestyle choices.

Back in March, during the week he was scheduled to face the Denver Nuggets, Ja Morant received an eight-game suspension after he drunkenly flashed a handgun in the middle of Shotgun Willie’s – a strip club located in Glendale, Colorado – while broadcasting on Instagram Live. Morant allegedly spent over US$50,000 (AU$74,600) in tips that same night… and the club did him absolutely no favours by leaking photographs of him in the act.

Morant is also being sued by a high school prospect after a fight broke out during a pickup game in his own backyard a few months prior. Morant and his friend Davonte Pack allegedly punched the teenager in the head and threatened him with a gun in his waistband.

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These stories have all resurfaced when Morant recently flashed a handgun on another Instagram Live session – hosted on Pack’s account – causing the Grizzlies to announce his indefinite suspension. It’s probably worth noting that this same friend is also banned from attending home games at Memphis’ FedEx Forum after a postgame confrontation with the Indiana Pacers’ travelling party.

Morant entered counselling shortly after the first gun-flashing incident and apologised profusely for his actions during a sit-down interview with ESPN. In the wake of the Grizzlies’ first-round elimination in the NBA playoffs to the Lakers, he also promised to be more disciplined going forward.

“I’ve just got to be better with my decision-making,” he said after Game 6’s 125-85 loss.

“That’s pretty much it. Off-the-court issues affected us as an organization pretty much. Just [need] more discipline.”

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Last summer, Ja Morant signed a max contract extension with the Grizzlies guaranteeing up to at least 25% of the salary cap. Thanks to the “Derrick Rose Rule,” a player that re-signs with their team early can receive an insane salary boost if they meet certain objectives.

One of the criteria requires the player to be selected to an All-NBA team in their most recent season or two of the last three seasons. Achieving this would’ve effectively opened the door for Morant’s contract to be escalated to a supermax, bumping him from US$192.2 million (AU$286.7 million) to US$231.4 million (AU$345.1 million).

Morant averaged 5.9 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 26.2 points on 46.6% shooting this season across 61 games. Considering the Memphis Grizzlies secured the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, he absolutely would’ve earned an All-NBA if it weren’t for his off-court antics.

The $58 million estimate above is a serious lowball, too. Keep in mind it doesn’t account for the games he’s suspended without pay or the money he stands to lose in endorsements. Ja Morant currently has endorsement deals with Nike and Powerade, although the sports drink hasn’t run any Ja-related content ever since the March video emerged.

We’re still very hopeful for the star point guard’s future. You always want to see players fulfil their potential rather than become another cautionary tale. He’s worked too hard and come too far to just waste it all now. To avoid another suspension, Ja Morant needs to approach his public image more cautiously and act like someone who stands to lose $58 million.

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