Ja Morant Could Have Bought A Gulfstream With The Money He Likely Just Cost Himself

Ever since he led Murray State to a resounding first-round upset victory over Mississippi State in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, Ja Morant seemed destined for stardom. The Memphis Grizzlies made him the second overall pick in that year’s NBA Draft. He won Rookie of the Year the following season and led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in his second year. The next season, the team reached the Western Conference semifinals and entered this year with championship aspirations.

Morant also is in line for a massive payday. He signed a maximum Designated Rookie extension last summer. Doing so means that if he wins MVP or Defensive Player of the Year or is named to an All-NBA Team this season, he’ll be eligible for what boils down to a 5% raise — the Grizzlies can pay him 30% of the salary cap instead of a 25% extension.

Of course, when you’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars, 5% is a significant sum. Morant could earn $233 million if he reaches one of those qualifications above. Otherwise, the most he can sign for is $194 million over five seasons.

After this past month, however, Morant may have just cost himself that extra bonus. And if that’s what happens, Ja Morant will have cost himself…

$39 million

AKA the rough price of a brand new Gulfstream G450 or Bombardier Global 5000. Poof. Into thin air.

Justin Ford/Getty Images

On March 4, 2023, Morant was in an Instagram Live video that appeared to show him brandishing a gun in a Denver-area strip club. The NBA suspended Morant for eight games for conduct detrimental to the league.

It’s not Morant’s first controversial moment; he’s also been accused of punching a teenage opponent in a pickup basketball game, intimidating a mall security guard, and being in an SUV that trained a laser toward the Indiana Pacers team bus — which, according to one member of the Pacers’ security team, was “100 percent a gun.”

These altercations may have already hurt Morant financially. He’s had Powerade advertisements taken off the air, and his recent behavior could lead to brands cutting ties with him. Nike, which released a signature Morant shoe in December, has publicly backed the Grizzlies guard, but will other partners be as patient?

To his credit, Morant said he was taking time away “to get help” and took “full responsibility” for his “terrible mistake.” He’s 23 years old and has already made millions of dollars while dealing with the pressure of being a budding NBA star and one of the faces of the league. Morant may not have realized the gravity of what he was doing; hopefully, his time away helps him move forward.

It still might be too late for Morant to earn the maximum amount of money with his next contract. He made All-NBA Second Team in 2021-22 and needs to receive another All-NBA selection this season. At the very least, he’ll miss 17 games this year — more than 20% of the season. And media voters might view some of his recent activity and award other players with All-NBA selections instead.

To be fair, Morant will almost certainly still make $194 million, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. But some poor decisions may have stopped him from realizing the max value of that big new contract.

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