Memphis Grizzlies all-star guard Ja Morant has entered a counseling program with no timetable for return, according to ESPN.
The team announced that the 23-year-old would be out at least through the game against the Miami Heat on Wednesday. In a statement, Morant said that he needs “to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”
The need for Morant to get help stems from incidents that resulted in Morant showing a gun at a suburban Denver nightclub on March 4. The incident has been under investigation by Memphis police, who made a point that Morant will be held accountable for any questionable behavior.
After losing to the Nuggets on March 4 by a score of 113-97, Morant was seen on an Instagram Live session early the following morning holding a gun in his left hand. To Morant’s credit, he said he takes “full responsibility for my actions.” In addition, he apologized to his family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, and the Memphis community.
The Grizzlies have gone 3-2 without Morant and are first in the Midwest Division and second in the Western Conference, a game ahead of the Sacramento Kings. The Grizzlies have 15 games remaining in the regular season, with four of their last five on the road.
Morant, the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star, is averaging 27 points, eight assists, and six rebounds per game. His five-year, $231 million extension with the Grizzlies begins next season.
The team’s hopes in the playoffs will hinge on the status of Morant. For now, the most crucial thing for Morant and the team is for him to make the changes necessary in counseling and get back with changed behavior and a clear mind. When that will be is anyone’s guess.