Ja Morant’s suspension: Do NBA players still get paid when they are suspended?
The Grizzlies star has been hit with a multiple-game ban for actions off the court. The NBA waited until after the finals to announce the punishment.
The NBA has already confirmed its own ruling on the temporary suspension that the Grizzlies imposed on Ja Morant a few weeks ago. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the result of the investigation into Ja Morant, who posted a video showing a firearm on social media, had concluded but would be revealed after the Finals series between the Nuggets and the Heat in order not to take away the focus from the event.
On Friday, the NBA finally made it official. Ja Morant has been served with a 25-game ban, without pay, with effect from the start of the 2023-24 season. For the meantime, he will be “ineligible to participate in any public league or team activities, including pre-season games, during the course of his suspension”.
It means that Morant will sit out almost a third of the regular season. Memphis had been waiting for news about the league’s investigation, after having sidelined the player from all franchise activities. It was Adam Silver who proposed a full investigation. During the initial, eight-game suspension in 2022/23, Silver spoke to the player in New York and urged him not to repeat a firearms scandal which, some time later, he did.
Why is Morant in hot water?
In March, Morant pulled out a gun during an IG Live stream while he and friends were partying at Shotgun Willie’s, a Denver strip club. He was subsequently hit with an eight-game suspension by the Grizzlies.
Violent conduct is not tolerated in the league and some offenders have been permanently banned with only a few later reinstated. Ron Artest was served an 86-game ban for punching a fan and instigating a mass brawl in the infamous 1997 Malice at the Palace incident.
Do suspended players receive their salaries?
The length of time that an NBA can be banned is determined “at the Commissioner’s discretion” and usually, if a player is ineligible to play - even if they are not injured, they cannot be paid. It’s the same when players choose not to play - they don’t receive their salary.
Let’s take a closer look at Morant’s case. In July last year, he signed a five-year contract extension with the Grizzlies worth $193 million of guaranteed money, rising to $231 million if he is selected for an All-NBA team. That takes up approximately 25% of the Grizzlies’ salary cap space.
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which sets out the terms and conditions of employment for all professional basketball players playing in the NBA, players who are suspended for fewer than 20 games will lose 0.7% (1/145th) of their slated salaries, while those who are suspended for 20 games or more lose 0.9% (1/110th). Morant is expected to lose over $304,000 per game during the time he is out suspended, which works out at $7,600,000 docked from his base salary of $32 million.