In the Notorious B.I.G.’s record “Mo Money Mo Problems,” released by Bad Boys Records in 1997, Kelly Price sings on the chorus, “It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.” This sentiment proved to be true for young NBA star Ja Morant.
Born Temetrius Jamel Morant, the South Carolina native was drafted as the No. 2 pick to the Memphis Grizzlies from Murray State University. Since entering the NBA, he has electrified the league with his supreme athleticism, colorful personality, and early team leadership.
His work ethic earned him appearances in the NBA All-Star games, and he was awarded NBA Rookie of the Year in 2020. To date, his stats show 27.1 points, 6 rebounds, and 8.2 assists during the 2022-2023 season.
However, Morant’s personal interests and activities began to make more noise than the work he was putting in on the court. The Grizzlies’ point guard has been the center of news stories, most notably the incident in Denver, CO, after a game with the Nuggets.
According to an Instagram live video, Morant flashed a firearm in an adult entertainment facility. The incident caused extreme outrage from the NBA community, some Grizzly fans, and the broader sports community.
With swirling commentary debating what should have or could have been done to prevent the incident, Morant was found facing the consequences of his actions. And while the 23-year-old was accountable and apologetic for what went down, it didn’t stop the immediate multi-game suspension and a possible hit to his income.
Based on a report from The Wall Street Journal, Ja Morant’s actions could cost him a whopping $39 million. Here’s how the decision he made may have more significant financial consequences.
In July 2022, the WSJ reported that Morant signed a rookie extension that would earn him an estimated $250 million.
However, his earning potential is based on what is known as the Derrick Rose Rule. This terminology was adopted shortly after the former Chicago Bulls player won the MVP title during his third season of play.
According to Spotrac, the rule for Morant’s potential earning comes into play since he signed a maximum rookie extension, qualifying him for 30% of his salary as opposed to 25% depending on meeting one or more of the following qualifications for the past three seasons that include:
- Earning an MVP title
- Two appearances on an All-NBA team
- Earning two Defensive Player of the Year awards
Morant’s eight-game absence can alter the potential to earn any of those awards. Additionally, the terms of the Rose rule are non-negotiable. Therefore, if he does not meet the abovementioned criteria, he could lose out on potential earnings.
According to Spotrac, Morant’s five-year extension would total a fortune of $194.3 million. With the number of games missed from injuries and incidents, he will now only be eligible to play in a maximum of 65 of the 82 games scheduled.
This would mean that the Murray State alum would have to work a little harder to be considered for the necessary achievement markers related to his contract extension.
In addition to the possibility of not reaching his maximum earning potential, Morant’s ad for Powerade was pulled, and his partnership was paused due to the firearm incident, based on an NBC Sports report. However, this not only affected him but impacted Memphis rapper NLE Choppa.
According to TMZ, NLE Choppa’s song “Mo Up Front” was supposed to be the backdrop to Morant’s commercial with Powerade, and now the rapper has lost out on that deal.
While Ja Morant has experienced an eventful few weeks, he has used this time to reflect on his actions and recenter himself for the future.
“Honestly, I feel like we put ourselves in that situation with our past mistakes, and now it’s only right that we focus in and lock in on being smarter and more responsible, holding each other accountable for everything,” Morant expressed about his inner circle to ESPN during an interview with NBA legend Jalen Rose.
The level of accountability he’s taken for his past actions has put Morant in better light with Nike as well. The shoe giant acknowledged future plans with the player, including the release of a signature shoe.
“We appreciate Ja’s accountability and that he is taking the time to get the help he needs. We support his prioritization of his well-being,” the sports brand released in a statement.
Although his most recent mistakes could have a tremendous financial impact, Morant’s story in the league and as a businessman is not over. It’s the setup for an early-career redemption story.
“I realize what I have to lose, and for us as a group, what we have to lose,” Morant added with ESPN. “It’s pretty much just that, being more responsible, more smarter, and staying away from all the bad decisions.”