Ja Morant’s return to NBA action after a lengthy suspension could not have gone any better, and his father is saying the Memphis Grizzlies superstar is moving forward surrounded by his same inner circle.
Tee Morant recently shared that bit of news during a radio appearance.
Justin: Did he make any changes in regards to the people in his inner circle?
Tee: We got the same circle
— SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) December 21, 2023
“We got the same circle,” the elder Morant said. “We got the same circle. … It’s always funny that people want you to change your circle even if, like, he don’t have no killers around him. He’s got educated people around him. But everyone else thinks, ‘Okay, this person is this, this person is that.’ No! Everybody knows their task. It was a bad decision. But it wasn’t a crime.”
After sitting out the first 25 games of the season as an NBA punishment for showing a firearm on social media again, the younger Morant was back on the court Tuesday and looked to be at the top of his game. The 24-year-old scored 34 points – including a game-winning, buzzer-beating basket – to help the Grizzlies rally from a 24-point first-half deficit to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 115-113 and end a five-game losing streak.
It obviously was just one game, but it has to generate optimism for the Grizzlies and their fans. However, that may be tempered by the comments from the elder Morant about the people who are still surrounding his son.
The younger Morant is ultimately responsible for his own actions, and some of his transgressions have landed him in trouble with the league and elsewhere.
Prior to the recently expired 25-game ban for a gun incident that may have included one of his friends, the younger Morant was suspended for eight games in March of last season for a different social media incident involving a firearm. He also is currently involved in a civil legal proceeding stemming from an allegation that he assaulted a high schooler during a pickup basketball game two summers ago. A friend of the younger Morant also allegedly struck the teenager.
In addition, while the younger Morant was serving his suspension to start the 2023-24 NBA season, the Grizzlies felt it necessary to have their head of security shadow their franchise player, something that may be ongoing.
The All-Star also reportedly expressed apathy at one point toward head coach Taylor Jenkins and general manager Zach Kleiman when they sought to address his off-court conduct.
Though unquestionably talented, the younger Morant and his career could be sidetracked by controversies like these, which has inevitably brought up questions about his inner circle. Considered one of the league’s most exciting players, the younger Morant will have to get back in good graces with more on-court performances like he produced Tuesday in his return while avoiding the off-court problems that have followed him in the past.