DENVER -- NBA commissioner Adam Silver indicated that he has reached a decision regarding the league office's looming disciplinary action against Memphis Grizzlies superstar guard Ja Morant but would wait until after a champion has been crowned in the Finals to announce the punishment.
The Grizzlies suspended Morant on May 14, pending league review, after a video on social media circulated showing the All-Star brandishing a firearm. The NBA suspended Morant for eight games after a similar incident in March, after Morant traveled to New York to meet with Silver and other league officials to discuss the issue.
During his annual news conference before the NBA Finals opener, Silver said the "history of prior acts" and "the individual player's history" would be considered when assessing what discipline is appropriate. this time.
"We've uncovered a fair amount of additional information, I think, since I was first asked about the situation," Silver said Thursday. "I will say we probably could have brought it to a head now, but we made the decision, and I believe the players association agrees with us, that it would be unfair to these players and these teams in the middle of the series to announce the results of that investigation.
"Given that we're of course in the offseason, he has now been suspended by the Memphis Grizzlies indefinitely, so nothing would have changed anyway in the next few weeks. It seemed better to park that at the moment, at least any public announcement, and my sense now is that shortly after the conclusion of the Finals we will announce the outcome of that investigation."
Asked if Morant's eight-game suspension was too light in hindsight, Silver said that Morant came across as "heartfelt and serious" during their March meeting.
"I guess in hindsight, I don't know," he said. "If it had been a 12-game suspension instead of an eight-game suspension, would that have mattered? I know it seemed based on precedent, and he's represented, and we want to be fair in terms of the league, it seemed appropriate at the time. That's all I can say. Maybe by definition to the extent we've all seen the video that it appears he's done it again, I guess you could say maybe not.
"But I don't think we yet know what it will take to change his behavior. Same thing I said at the time: He seems to be a fine young man. In terms of my dealings with him, I think he's clearly made some mistakes, but he's young, and I'm hoping now -- once we conclude at the end of our process what the appropriate discipline is, that it's not just about the discipline, it's about now what we, the players association, his team and he and the people around him are going to do to create better circumstances going forward."
Some other significant issues Silver addressed Thursday:
Investigated ref not at Finals
Veteran referee Eric Lewis was not among the 12 officials assigned to work the Finals because of the league office's investigation into his social media activity.
The league is looking into whether Lewis used a "burner" account on Twitter to defend himself and other officials from critiques, which would be a violation of league policy.
"We decided that [because the] investigation was ongoing and it remains ongoing that it wouldn't be appropriate for him to work in these Finals," Silver said. "I don't know what the ultimate conclusion will be. We'll see where the facts take us."
Local TV conundrum
Several NBA teams, including the Western Conference champion Denver Nuggets, have had major problems with local television audiences due to disputes between regional sports networks and cable companies as well as other carriers.
Silver referred to this problem as "a terrible issue" with no simple solution, noting that it could be addressed as part of the NBA's negotiations with its national television partners over the two years remaining on that deal.
"It makes no sense, and it's on us to fix it," Silver said.
Postseason awards game minimum?
On the 65-game minimum for players to be eligible for postseason awards in the future, Silver said: "We're putting an incentive in place for players to play more games in the regular season. There's no magic to the 65, but we are trying to take into account games of course that are going to be missed because there are injuries and maybe even occasionally it's necessary for a player to rest.
"But, again, this was something we negotiated with the players' association. Everybody has an interest in the league putting its best foot forward in a highly competitive regular season."