Ja Morant has agreed to a five-year designated player contract extension with the Memphis Grizzlies that could pay the All-NBA point guard as much as $231 million, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Morant all but confirmed the deal on Twitter.
Morant’s $193 million maximum salary rises by $38 million over the life of the contract if he makes a second All-NBA team next season or wins league MVP. The NBA’s most popular young player is worth every penny.
Morant, who turns 23 years old in August, averaged 27.4 points (on 49/34/76 shooting splits), 6.7 assists and 5.7 rebounds in 33.1 minutes over 57 games last season, leading the 56-win Grizzlies to the league’s second-best record. Morant trail a bone bruise in his right knee midway through the second round of the playoffs, as his Grizzliesed the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in a series they lost 4-2.
Morant’s arrival as the No. 2 overall pick in 2019 changed Memphis’ fortunes from a franchise trying to find its way from the rubble of the Grit and Grind era to a team that now embodies its nascent superstar’s brash athleticism. The Grizzlies give you nothing, because Morant wants to take everything and often does.
The Grizzlies also signed All-Defensive first team forward Jaren Jackson Jr. to a four-year, $105 million extension this past October, locking up two foundational pieces to a championship contender. Memphis is loaded with young talent around them, thanks to a front office that has excelled at player evaluation.
This particular decision was a no-brainer. Morant has the ability to become the greatest player in Grizzlies history, and he wants to play in Memphis, which is not always the case for rising stars and small markets.
“I’m definitely happy to be here,” Morant told reporters when asked about his looming extension at his exit interview in May. “Memphis is my home. … If your [question] is, ‘Do I want to be in Memphis?’ Hell yeah.”
Morant’s buzzer-beater midway through a 52-point game in February was the most-watched Instagram video in NBA history, a testament to the point guard’s Stephen Curry-like popularity among young fans.
We are now left to wonder if Morant can join Curry in the pantheon and whether Jackson and Desmond Bane will become the Draymond Green and Klay Thompson of the Grizzlies. If not, can Morant recruit star players to Memphis? the Grizzlies just bought themselves until the 2027-28 season to figure all that out.
– – – – – – –
Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a type? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach