Ja Morant has quickly become a superstar. The Memphis Grizzlies guard has a unique skill set and is often the most talented athlete on the basketball court on any given night.
His high-flying dunks have taken the internet by storm over the past two years, and he’s helped lead his team to multiple playoff appearances and a division title. Last July, the Grizzlies rewarded Morant with a five-year supermax contract extension.
The contract included incentives that entitled Morant to nearly a quarter of a billion dollars if he met certain thresholds this season.
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Now, Morant has garnered a significant amount of attention online, but for reasons that have nothing to do with his on-court exploits.
Morant briefly displayed a gun at a strip club near Denver in an Instagram Live video on March 4. Subsequent consequences resulted in an eight-game suspension without pay for conduct detrimental to the league, the NBA announced Wednesday.
But the impact of Morant’s actions could cost the star athlete an estimated $39 million.
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Under an NBA rule known as the «Derrick Rose Rule,» a team can pay 30% of its salary cap to any player who signs a maximum Designated Rookie extension, if that player meets certain requirements.
Selected qualifications include a player winning the MVP award, two Defensive Player of the Year awards in the past three seasons, or two All-NBA team appearances. At least one of those requirements must be met before the maximum contract takes effect in order for the player to receive the salary increase.
Morant already has an All-NBA team appearance under his belt, and appeared to be on his way to a second appearance until the incident earlier this month.
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According to Spotrac, a second All-NBA team appearance would see the value of Morant’s extension jump from $194 million to $233 million.
The problem is that Morant might not play enough games this season to qualify for an All-NBA team. If he plays in all of the remaining games after he returns from his suspension, Morant would finish the season with 65 games played.
«I feel like in the past we didn’t know what was at stake,» Morant said during an interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose on Wednesday.
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The Grizzlies have managed to hold onto the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference while Morant has been out of the team. Memphis hopes to make a deep playoff run this upcoming postseason, with the help of Morant.