Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Grizzlies GM Kleiman says “It’s on Ja” to fix troubling behavior

By Matt Infield

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -It was a relatively quiet draft night for the Grizzlies, who traded their first-round pick in the deal that will bring Marcus Smart to Memphis. But for the first time since Ja Morant was suspended 25 games a week ago, we heard from Grizzlies’ general manager Zach Kleiman.

As you might imagine, Kleiman wasn’t thrilled about his best player facing a lengthy suspension for waving a gun on Instagram again.

“Yeah, I mean we’re certainly disappointed with the behavior that transpired as we got into the offseason,” Kleiman said. “I think the discipline from the NBA, I think it was appropriate.”

Kleiman, who went to bat for his star player at exit interviews two weeks before he waved a gun on Instagram Live for the second time, made it clear the time for talking is over.

“I think he’s (Morant) taken some steps, but at this point, it doesn’t matter until he follows through on it,” Kleiman said. “I couldn’t care less about words. Ja has to prove it.”

Kleiman also acknowledged there’s been some leeway with Ja’s behavior in the past, that’s out the window now.

“There have been instances in the past where Ja has shown recognition and remorse with respect to what was really a problematic pattern of behavior. Where there were things that we would challenge him on, that we would call out, and it was two steps forward, one step back.

“And there’s no room for steps back at this point.”

There’s no doubt to the GM who the onus falls on to end this troubling cycle.

“He has the opportunity to come back from this,” Kleiman said. “Ja has every opportunity, and everybody wants him to be successful, believes in him to be successful, is going to continue to give him the tools and structure to be successful.

“It’s on Ja.”

Kleiman also made it a point to say the relationship between the team and Ja is not strained and that Morant is still thrilled to be in Memphis. However, that doesn’t change the standard of behavior they’ll expect from him moving forward.

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