New Zealand NBA star Steven Adams has reportedly used his proven veteran status to lay down the law with his Memphis Grizzlies teammates, challenging them - and in particular superstar Ja Morant - to have better discipline around road games.
Morant is in hot water after he streamed a video on his Instagram account on the weekend of himself holding what appeared to be a gun at a nightclub, hours after playing a game in Denver.
The 23-year-old has since apologised and removed the video but both the NBA and police in Colorado have confirmed they are investigating the incident.
It's the latest in a string of off-court incidents for two-time All Star and former Rookie of the Year Morant, who last September was accused of punching a 17-year-old during a neighbourhood basketball game.
Morant was also tied to an altercation with the Indiana Pacers last month.
Renowned NBA insider Shams Charania reported today that Adams, who was sidelined for the past month injured, has apparently had enough and called out the behaviour.
"I'm told that there was a players-only meeting recently where Steven Adams, their veteran centre, he spoke out about how the team needs to show better discipline on the road and how they need to stay away from going out when they're on the road," Charania said.
"This team is 12-20 when they're on the road this year, they're stellar at home but that's a poor road record for them.
"And I'm told those in the room, when Steven Adams spoke out, they knew exactly who he was directing this to - it was no one other than Ja Morant."
There's no timetable for Morant to return to the Grizzlies, and the All-Star guard knows he's made “difficult decisions and poor choices” that he has to be accountable for, coach Taylor Jenkins said yesterday.
Morant was not with the team in Los Angeles for games against the Clippers yesterday and the Lakers tomorrow.
Defence lawyers who have represented people on gun charges in Colorado say it is a misdemeanor to possess a gun while under the influence of drugs or alcohol so that is one possible violation authorities could be looking into.
“It may have all been laughter and Champagne, but under the eyes of the law, it can get to be a serious situation,” attorney Jeff Weeden said.
The Grizzlies coach said Morant understands he's made “some difficult decisions and poor choices in the past.”
“He’s definitely embracing the mistakes that he’s made, but only time will tell," Jenkins said. "We’re going to support him and we’re going to hold him accountable to make those changes.
“This is a tough time for a young kid that’s got to grow and get better.
“He’s got huge responsibilities not just for the team, for the city, but I know how he’s built with that care factor and what steps he’s now taking. It’s a step in the direction of really being the best version of himself.”
Jenkins declined to outline the steps Morant needs to take to rejoin the team, saying: “We love him, we want what’s best for him, we support him. It’s going to be a difficult process but we’ve got a great group to get through this.”
He called it “an ongoing healing process.”
The league, if it finds wrongdoing, could fine or suspend Morant.
- Additional reporting by the Associated Press