Morant discusses record-setting contract for first time

Ja Morant and Zach Kleiman
Ja Morant and Zach Kleiman(Action News 5)
Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 10:54 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For the first time since signing the biggest contract in Grizzlies’ franchise history earlier this week, Ja Morant met with the media Friday to discuss his new deal.

The All-Star signed an extension that’s reportedly for five years and $193 million, with an escalator in the contract that can take the value up to $230 million if he makes an All-NBA team for the second straight year.

The marriage between Morant and the team has seemed perfect from the time they took him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft, and the extension symbolizes that.

“Obviously I think it starts from the trust standpoint,” said Morant on the significance of the deal. “Obviously, they believe in me to be the leader of this team.

“If you ask me, they do a helluva job of putting players around me to make me look good. I feel like that’s a good thing, you know we had a run, we’ve improved every year,” Morant added. “And my mindset next year is to lead with a parade.”

Whatever the contract’s value ends up being, it’s generational wealth for a 22-year-old who’s talked often about the humble beginnings he grew up with in South Carolina.

Morant said the magnitude of the deal hit him when he was in Utah this week to watch the Grizzlies Summer League team.

“You know it was a late night, I had a balcony, and you know I just went outside on the balcony and you know I looked at the city, and I recorded a video,” Morant said of the moment. “And my mom, my dad, my little sister can back me up on this. I sent them a video, I was like ‘I’m happy, we made it,’ I didn’t say I made it, I said we made it because they pushed me to get to this point. They believed in me, they encouraged me when I was down.

“But I told them we’re not done yet. There’s a lot more work to do, it’s a lot of getting better to do on and off the floor, and as a family on and off the floor. I feel like that’s when I had that serious moment, you know, when I was alone by myself without my family beside me, when I had that moment about signing the contract.”

Grizzlies’ GM Zach Kleiman said that extending Morant was the easiest decision he’s made in his tenure on the job.

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