What does Ja Morant’s suspension mean for the New Orleans Pelicans?

Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

On Friday, the NBA front office finally announced what the punishment will be for Ja Morant’s most recent Instagram live incident.

As the tweet above suggests, Morant will be suspended for 25 games. In league history, only seven players have been punished for more games than Morant is being suspended for right now. In his official statement addressing the matter, Commissioner Adam Silver had this to say about the suspension:

“Ja Morant’s decision to once again wield a firearm on social media is alarming and disconcerting given his similar conduct in March for which he was already suspended eight games,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement Friday. “The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning. Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior with guns will not be tolerated.”

Obviously, the Morant news has monster ramifications on the league as a whole. The news loomed so large that Silver opted to wait until after the NBA Finals in order to avoid having the suspension overshadow the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat.

So what impact, if any, does this have on the New Orleans Pelicans?

We don’t know either team’s official schedule for the 2023-24 season yet, so we don’t know how many times (if any) the Pelicans will play the Memphis Grizzlies during Morant’s suspension.

But even then, since the two teams share a division/conference, the fact the Grizzlies will be without their best player for nearly one-third of the season could play a massive role in the standings.

Last season, the Western Conference was jam-packed, with seeds four through ten being separated by just five games in the standings. Even just a little bit of slippage from the Grizzlies could lead to them taking a nosedive in the standings. This could open up the doors for New Orleans to earn a much higher seed than they did in 2022-23.

Ultimately, knowing that one of the top teams in the Western Conference last season is going to miss their best player for (at least) 25 games could lead the Pelicans to shut down all talks of trading up in the draft for Scoot Henderson. It could lead to them doubling down on their current core and seeing just how far they can climb up the Western Conference standings.

Next. 5 trades for the Pelicans to move up and draft Scoot Henderson. dark