NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, speaking at T-Mobile Arena ahead of the in-season tournament's championship game, addressed key issues surrounding Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant's suspension and the overall success of the in-season tournament.
Ja Morant's Road to Return
Silver confirmed his plans to personally check in with Ja Morant this week ahead of his potential return from a 25-game suspension. The suspension, stemming from Morant's conduct detrimental to the league, has been a significant topic within the NBA community.
"Yes, I have been monitoring the situation closely, and him. In fact, we intend to have a check-in this week directly, Ja and I," Silver said. Morant's suspension came after a video circulated on social media showing him brandishing a firearm.
This incident followed an eight-game suspension in March for similar behavior. Silver noted the league's efforts in collaboration with Morant and his team, stating, "We've, together, laid out a program for him over the last several weeks, and to the best of my knowledge, he's complied with everything he's been asked to do."
Impact on the Grizzlies and the Tournament
The Grizzlies' performance in the in-season tournament, finishing 0-4 without Morant, highlighted his importance to the team.
However, the overall response to the tournament has been positive, with players and fans alike embracing the new format.
Financial Incentives and Player Motivation
One notable aspect of the tournament has been the significant financial incentives for players, with the winning team's players each receiving $500,000.
This approach, according to Silver, has contributed to the tournament's success but isn't the only factor. "I'm pleasantly surprised that guys are not dismissing [the cash incentive]... I think it was the competition, in part.
I think it was coming to Vegas. I think it was all of those things that made the difference," he explained. When asked about applying similar incentives to other NBA events like the All-Star Game and Slam Dunk Contest, Silver expressed skepticism.
He pointed out that while money is a motivator, it's not the sole driver for player participation. "Players... are not that different than other people we know, that money is a motivator but not a sole motivator of their behavior," Silver remarked.