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The Memphis Grizzlies are taking measures to leave cities early during road trips to avoid more controversies among their players.
Unveiled in a new report by The Athletic, the Grizzlies have been leaving “party” cities early and monitoring players’ activities during road trips, fearing situations could get out of hand.
Morant’s Strip Club Incident Has Ripple Effect
The added caution has been linked to Grizzlies star Ja Morant’s behavior after he snuck a handgun into a Denver strip club on Mar. 4 and flashed the weapon on his Instagram Live stream.
Morant received a suspension from the team and the NBA due to intoxicatingly partying at Shotgun Willie’s strip club with the weapon in hand. The 23-year-old guard was on leave from the team for several days and entered a counseling program in Florida to rehabilitate himself after his run of bad press.
Morant also faced allegations of physically assaulting a 17-year-old boy after flashing a weapon at him during a pickup basketball game.
“There have even been travel measures taken to curtail nightlife habits this season, with the Grizzlies leaving more road cities (especially the glitzier ones, like Miami) immediately after the game instead of staying overnight. Additional accountability measures may follow,” The Athletic reported.
Memphis’ two-time All-Star in Morant, who signed a near-$200 million contract extension this offseason, has been criticized for willingly engaging in gang-like behavior as the face of the franchise.
One of his incidents includes rolling up on a group of Indiana Pacers personnel and players. Morant and his crew shined red-dot lasers toward the Pacers and, at one point, flashed a weapon. The NBA investigated the matter and confirmed it occurred but did not find proof of a gun.
Morant is eligible to return to action on Monday following an eight-game suspension assigned by the NBA.
Ja Morant Expected To Be Back With Memphis Soon
According to Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins, Morant is expected to return to the team on Monday but is not expected to play against the Dallas Mavericks that day.
Morant’s behavior may have ruined the fun for the rest of the team. For the most part, Memphis players have supported Morant as he takes time away from basketball to improve himself.
“Everyone’s seen the last couple of headlines that’s come out in the last couple of weeks,” said Grizzlies backup point guard Tyus Jones. “I mean, nobody wants to see those, nobody likes those. But ultimately Ja is a good dude. I don’t think anyone sees any ill will or ill intentions.
“So I wouldn’t say I was super concerned or anything like that, but the previous couple headlines that have come out are not ideal.”
Morant is facing plenty of questions regarding his ability not just to be a star in the NBA, but also to maintain and develop that brand.
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela
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