The NBA has suspended Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant for 25 games without pay for appearing in a second video on social media while brandishing a gun.

The league announced the punishment Friday in a statement, which also revealed that Morant’s reinstatement will be contingent on completion of a program to address his repeated “destructive” behavior off the court.

“The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “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.

“For Ja, basketball needs to take a backseat at this time. Prior to his return to play, he will be required to formulate and fulfill a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior.”

Morant posed with a firearm for a social media live stream on May 13, less than two months after serving an eight-game suspension for posing with a gun for a video in a Denver nightclub on March 4.

After the first incident, Morant attended a counseling program in Florida and vowed to the public and to the league not to repeat his behavior.

Silver had hinted publicly that the league had decided Morant’s punishment two weeks ago, but the league chose to delay the announcement until after the NBA Finals.

After serving his eight-game ban in March, Morant was not voted to an All-NBA team despite an impressive season on the court. An All-NBA selection would have triggered an escalation to his designated rookie contract extension for an additional $38.9 million.

With the league’s newly implemented games-played minimum for awards, Morant will be ineligible for an All-NBA team in 2023-24.

Danilo Gallinari will return to the Boston Celtics for the 2023-24 season after reportedly exercising his $6.8million player option.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported the news on Thursday.

The 13-year veteran from Italy missed the entire 2022-23 season after tearing his left ACL while playing for his native country in a FIBA qualifying game last August - a month after signing a two-year, $13.3million contract with the Celtics.

Expected to be a regular in the rotation for a Boston team with NBA title aspirations, the 34-year-old Gallinari signed with the Celtics after averaging 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 38.1 per cent from 3-point range in 66 games for the Atlanta Hawks in 2021-22.

His best season came in 2018-19 for the Los Angeles Clippers, when he averaged career highs of 19.8 points and 6.1 rebounds and shot 43.3 per cent on 3-pointers to rank fifth in the NBA among qualifying players.

Last summer's injury marked the second time Gallinari missed an entire season with a torn left ACL after tearing it a first time in April 2013.

He came back in 2014-15 with averages of 12.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 59 games for the Denver Nuggets.

Selected sixth overall by the New York Knicks in the 2008 draft, Gallinari has career averages of 15.6 points and 4.8 rebounds and an average of 2.0 made 3-pointers per game.

Since his 2008-09 rookie season, the only player 6-foot-10 or taller with more made 3-pointers than Gallinari's 1,426 is Kevin Durant with 1,804.


Nikola Jokic is now in "the legendary category" after he propelled the Denver Nuggets to victory in the NBA Finals.

Jokic capped a sensational postseason by sparking Denver's comeback from a 10-point second-quarter deficit on Monday.

The Serbian finished with 28 points on 12-of-16 shooting along with 16 rebounds as the Nuggets won 94-89 against the Miami Heat to clinch the championship in Game 5.

For Detroit Pistons great Isiah Thomas, two-time NBA MVP Jokic must be considered among the very best.

"It puts him in the legendary category for what he's done statistically in the Finals," Thomas told ESPN.

"I don't know if there's anyone who's ever had a statistical run in the NBA Finals as a center as he had in these categories."

For Jokic, who can now add an NBA Finals MVP award to his long list of career accolades, it was a case of a job well done.

"It's good, we did the job. I think we played the best basketball – I'm not going to say in the postseason – but we were there, playing the best basketball," Jokic told reporters.

"Since day one, there was something different about this team, an energy, and every day since I've had this feeling. I'm not really an optimistic guy but that gave me hope that we can do something."

It has been a long road for the Nuggets to their first NBA title, but Jokic believes a team must experience downs as well as ups to be great.

"If you want to be successful, you need a couple of years to be bad, then be good, and then when you're good you need to fail and then figure it out," he added.

"I think experience isn't what happened to you, it's what you're going to do after what happened. There are no shortcuts, it's a journey and I'm glad to be part of this journey.

"It's a good thing to know you've done something that nobody believed [we could]. Every player believed, and that's the good thing."

In 20 postseason games, Jokic accumulated 600 points, 269 rebounds and 190 assists. Never before in NBA history had a player reached those numbers over a 20-game span.

Jokic also became the first player in NBA history to have 25+ points and 15+ rebounds on 75 percent shooting in a championship-clinching win.

Jimmy Butler still believes he can lead the Miami Heat to NBA championship glory despite his team falling short in a 4-1 series defeat to the Denver Nuggets.

The Denver Nuggets became NBA champions for the first time after a tense 94-89 win over Miami in Game 5 on Monday.

Miami, just the second No. 8 seed out of a conference to reach the NBA Finals, made the Nuggets work for the clinching win. They held a seven-point halftime lead and were 89-88 ahead inside the last two minutes.

But the Nuggets, boosted by another monster performance from NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic, rallied to end the franchise's long championship drought.

Butler has been with the Heat for four seasons and lost out in the NBA Finals twice – with the Los Angeles Lakers triumphant in six games back in 2020 on his previous attempt to lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy – but the six-time All-Star, who is three months from turning 34, remains optimistic.

"It's been great," Butler said to ESPN about his four seasons with the Heat. 

"I've had some helluva teammates come through and compete with me and give us the opportunity to win a championship, which I still believe, with everything in me, that we will do as a team here, as an organisation, as a city in Miami.

"I'm just grateful. I learned so much from this group. They taught me so much. I wish I could have got it done for these guys, because they definitely deserve it."

Coach Erik Spoelstra accepted the Nuggets were worthy winners but spoke with pride about his team's achievements in a dramatic season.

Miami almost lost to the Chicago Bulls during the second game of the Eastern Conference play-in tournament before their sensational run to the Finals, beating the No.1-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks and championship favourites the Boston Celtics.

"There's no regrets on our end," Spoelstra said. "There's just sometimes where you get beat, and Denver was the better basketball team in this series. 

"Those last three or four minutes felt like a scene out of a movie. Two teams in the ring throwing haymaker after haymaker, and it's not necessarily shot making, it's the efforts.

"I don't know how long it would take me to go through the autopsy of this final game, but I would say that it will probably rank as our hardest, competitive, most active defensive game of the season, and it still fell short.

"You have to tip your hat to them. They are one hell of a basketball team. They play the right way, they compete, they are well-coached and they have a strong culture. 

"So for this season, they deserve this."

Jokic capped a sensational postseason by sparking Denver's comeback from a 10-point second-quarter deficit. The Serbian star finished with 28 points on 12-of-16 shooting along with 16 rebounds. 

Butler ended with 21 points for Miami, while Bam Adebayo compiled 20 points and 12 rebounds but managed just two points in the second half.

Center Adebayo echoed the pride of Butler and Spoelstra when he looked at what had been achieved.

"You take the experience of this season, and if you can just bottle that up and everybody just have their own portion or rewritten story of it, the No. 1 thing, I think, would be will," he said. 

"So looking forward, I think this is one of my favourite teams I've ever been a part of because we willed our way through ups and downs.

"We willed our way through the things that people said we couldn't do."

Jamal Murray is confident there is more to come from the Denver Nuggets after the franchise's first NBA Finals success.

The Nuggets beat the Miami Heat 94-89 on Monday to secure a 4-1 series win, ending their wait for a championship.

Nikola Jokic, who was named the Finals MVP, starred with 28 points and 16 rebounds, while Murray added 14 points, eight assists and eight rebounds.

After losing Game 2 at home, Denver bounced back with two dominant victories in Miami before rounding off their triumph back in Colorado, and Murray had few doubts the Nuggets would get the job done.

"I knew once we were healthy, we could do it," Murray told ESPN. "So this [championship] was long overdue. I think this is the first of many.

"We clearly can do it, so let's do it again."

There was a similar sentiment from Denver coach Michael Malone, who wants to turn a championship into a dynasty.

He told reporters: "Pat Riley said something many years ago. I used to have it up on my board when I was a head coach in Sacramento.

"It talked about the evolution in this game and how you go from a nobody to an upstart, and you go from an upstart to a winner, and a winner to a contender, and a contender to a champion, and the last step after a champion, is to be a dynasty.

"So we're not satisfied. We accomplished something this franchise has never done before, but we have a lot of young talented players in that locker room, and I think we just showed through 16 playoff wins what we're capable of on the biggest stage in the world."

Two-time NBA MVP Jokic was the star of the show all season for the Nuggets.

The 28-year-old tallied 600 points, 269 rebounds and 190 assists in the postseason. It is the first time any player in the history of the NBA had reached those numbers across a 20-game span (including both regular-season and postseason games).

Jokic also became the first player in NBA history to have 25+ points and 15+ rebounds on 75 per cent shooting in a championship-clinching win.

"The job is done, and we can go home now," Jokic said.

The Denver Nuggets have won their first NBA championship with a 94-89 victory over the Miami Heat in game five of the NBA finals.

In a back-and-forth affair, the Nuggets were able to hold off a late rally from Miami and claim the Larry O’Brien trophy in front of their home fans.

Nikola Jokic again led the way for Denver with 28 points, while Jimmy Butler finished with 21 after a late flurry brought the Heat agonisingly close to forcing a game six back in Miami.

Some early struggles from deep gave the Heat a seven-point lead at half-time, but Denver clamped down defensively in the second half and held Miami to just 38 points over the final two quarters.

Eight-straight points and a pair of clutch free throws from Butler put the Heat back in front by one with less than two minutes remaining, but the visitors were ultimately unable to claw their way back again after Denver’s Bruce Brown grabbed an offensive rebound and tip-in.

Bruce Brown scored the go-ahead layup with 1:30 remaining and the Denver Nuggets held on for a 94-89 win over the Miami Heat on Monday to clinch the first NBA championship in franchise history.

Denver overcame a 10-point second-quarter deficit to oust the underdog Heat in five games and secure the first title in the team's 47-year NBA tenure. Nikola Jokić led the second-half rally and finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds, while Michael Porter Jr. added 16 points and 13 rebounds. 

Miami was seeking to become the first No. 8 seed out of a conference to win a championship and had guard Tyler Herro active for the first time since he broke his right hand in the team's playoff opener on April 16. The 2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year did not play, however. 

The Miami Heat will have Tyler Herro back from a broken right hand Monday as they try to force a Game 6 in the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets. 

Herro has been out since sustaining the injury in the eighth-seeded Heat's playoff opener at the Milwaukee Bucks on April 16. He was upgraded to questionable earlier Monday after being listed as out earlier in the day. 

The 2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year combined for 38 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in two play-in games after averaging 20.1 points and setting career bests with 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game during the regular season.

Herro also established a career high with 203 made 3-pointers in 2022-23, the 18th-most in the league.

After the teams split the first two games of the NBA Finals in Denver, the Heat dropped the next meetings at home to head back to Denver trailing 3-1 in the series.

If the Heat win Monday, Game 6 will be in Miami on Thursday.

The Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet is declining his $22.8million player option for 2023-24, and will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

The news was first reported Monday by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who also noted it's possible VanVleet returns to the Raptors under a new deal.

As one of the top point guards entering free agency, however, VanVleet will likely receive some enticing offers this summer.

Undrafted out of Wichita State, VanVleet has played his entire seven-year career with the Raptors and was instrumental to their 2019 title.

A first-year All-Star in 2021-22 when he averaged a career-high 20.3 points per game and 6.7 assists per games, VanVleet averaged 19.3 points, a career-best 7.2 assists and 1.78 steals to rank third in the NBA last season.

With averages of 17.5 points, 6.3 assists and 1.75 steals over the last four seasons, he is one of three NBA players (along with Dejounte Murray and Jrue Holiday) to average at least 17 points, 6 assists and 1.5 steals over that span.

Over the last three seasons, his average of 37.1 minutes per game trails only Toronto teammate Pascal Siakam.


Tyler Herro will reportedly attempt to return from a broken right hand Monday as the Miami Heat try to force a Game 6 in the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets.

Herro has been out since sustaining the injury in the eighth-seeded Heat's playoff opener at the Milwaukee Bucks on April 16. He was upgraded to questionable Monday after being listed as out earlier in the day. 

The 2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year combined for 38 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in two play-in games after averaging 20.1 points and setting career bests with 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game during the regular season.

Herro also established a career high with 203 made 3-pointers in 2022-23, the 18th-most in the league.

After the teams split the first two games of the NBA Finals in Denver, the Heat dropped the next meetings at home to head back to Denver trailing 3-1 in the series.

If the Heat win Monday, Game 6 will be in Miami on Thursday.

The Miami Heat mascot reportedly had to attend hospital after being punched by Irish mixed martial artist Conor McGregor at basketball’s NBA finals.

What was a promotional stunt during game four between the Heat and Denver Nuggets ended badly as former UFC champion McGregor floored ‘Burnie’, who was wearing oversized boxing gloves, with a left hook before adding another punch as the stricken Miami mascot lay on his back.

‘Burnie’ – who is described as a “rough, anthropomorphic depiction of the fireball featured on the Heat’s logo” – was dragged off court by three people and it was later reported that the individual inside the mascot suit was taken to the emergency room of a nearby hospital for treatment.

The Heat have declined to comment on the incident, but it has been reported that the mascot is out of hospital and recovering.

The Miami Herald said that “the man behind the Burnie costume has never revealed his name publicly and the team does not identify him in its media guide”.

McGregor, who was booed by many in the Miami crowd even before walking on court, stayed for the entire game as the Nuggets won 108-95 to secure a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

UFC president Dana White questioned the practice of mascots taking punches from “professional fighters”, highlighting the 2018 incident when former world heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder was invited to show his punching power on a hot-dog like creature.

Asked about the McGregor incident at the UFC 289 post-fight press conference, White said: “I saw the Deontay Wilder one too.

“What’s up with mascots getting punched in the face by professional fighters? What do you expect?

“What are those mascot things made out of? Unless you’re like the Golden Knights mascot…with a metal helmet…

“I wouldn’t have professional fighters punch me in the face if I was a mascot, doesn’t seem like the brightest thing in the world.”

The Toronto Raptors have found their successor to Nick Nurse, hiring Memphis Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic to be their head coach.

The news was first reported Saturday by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Rajakovic will become the 10th coach in franchise history and was picked over Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee, according to Wojnarowski.

A native of Serbia, Rajakovic has been an NBA assistant coach since 2014, serving on the Grizzlies' staff the last three seasons.

His first coaching job in the NBA was with the Oklahoma City Thunder and after six seasons there he spent the 2019-20 season with the Phoenix Suns before becoming Taylor Jenkins' top assistant on the Memphis bench.

The last three seasons with Rajakovic on the staff, the Grizzlies have won a pair of Southwest Division titles while making the playoffs each time. They've compiled a .614 winning percentage - fifth best among all NBA teams in that span.

Rajakovic replaces Nurse, who led the Raptors to the franchise’s only title in 2019, but was fired on April 21, nine days after losing 109-105 to the Chicago Bulls in their play-in game.

Nurse, who was hired by the Philadelphia 76ers on May 29, led Toronto to a pair of Atlantic Division titles, however, the team finished last in the Atlantic this season with a 41-41 record to miss the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons.

Rajakovic's hiring fills the final open coaching vacancy in the NBA.


Aaron Gordon provided a huge lift with 27 points and the Denver Nuggets received contributions from several sources in a 108-95 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday to get within one win of the franchise’s first NBA championship.

Nikola Jokic worked around foul trouble to tally 23 points and 12 rebounds and Bruce Brown scored 11 of 21 points down the stretch to help the Nuggets take a 3-1 lead in the series. Denver can wrap up the title at home in Game 5 on Monday.

Jamal Murray scored 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting but had 12 assists. His shooting struggles were offset by Gordon, who was 11 of 15 from the field with six rebounds and six assists. Brown connected on 8 of 11 field goals and his third 3-pointer of the night with 1:21 left pushed the advantage to 108-91.

Jokic went to the bench with 9:24 to play after he committed his fifth foul with Denver holding a 10-point lead. He checked back in just over five minutes later with the Nuggets leading 96-87.

Jimmy Butler scored 25 points and Bam Adebayo added 20 with 11 rebounds, but the Heat had their final lead at 23-20 early in the second quarter. They cut the deficit to 94-87 midway through the fourth before Brown scored Denver’s next eight points to make it 102-91.

Miami appears to be wearing down with its sixth loss in eight games since taking a 3-0 lead over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Denver Nuggets are within one game of claiming their first NBA championship after dismantling the Miami Heat 108-95 in the fourth game of the NBA finals.

The Nuggets return to Denver for game five of the seven-game series, where they will aim to win the franchise’s first Larry O’Brien trophy in their 56-year history.

Nikola Jokic again proved a mismatch for Miami, wthe Serbian posting 23 points and 10 rebounds.

He was ably supported by Aaron Gordon, who finished with a game-high 27 points in one of the best performances of his career.

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo combined for 45 points for the Heat, who were ultimately let down by another poor shooting effort from three.

Miami shot just 32 per cent from deep, while the Nuggets drained half of their three-point attempts.

The Heat kept pace with the Nuggets early, maintaining just a four-point deficit at the half.

But Denver exploded for 31 points in the third quarter, claiming an advantage which, despite a rally late in the fourth, Miami were ultimately unable to overcome.

The Denver Nuggets are following the "phenomenal" Jamal Murray in the NBA Finals, says Nikola Jokic.

Jokic and Murray became the teammates in NBA Finals history to record triple-doubles as the Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat 109-94 on Wednesday to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Two-time NBA MVP Jokic had 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists for the first such game in Finals history, or at least the first since assists were tracked.

The triple-double was his 10th this postseason and 16th of his career, a number that trails only LeBron James (28).

Murray had 34 points and 10 assists and completed his first career playoff triple-double with a rebound with nine seconds remaining, and Jokic lauded his teammate for leading the Nuggets through the playoffs so far.

"He's playing phenomenally, I think, the whole playoffs," Jokic said of Murray.

"We're just following him and he's a really good leader. His energy is amazing, and we are just following.

"He's reading the game really well. He's getting guys involved, and I think he's mature, if that makes any sense, and he knows where to find the guys and how to control the game.

"It's not just us, it's the team, and like I said even before the series started, the Denver Nuggets need to beat Miami, not me and Jamal and whoever is on the other side. We as a group need to beat them."

Asked how proud he was of his record-achieving performance, Jokic replied: "To be honest, I just think it's a win because if you lose, nobody is going to even mention it. I don't care. It's just a stat."

The Nuggets' win came after they had lost Game 2 of the series at home.

Jokic added: "When you lose the game, of course it's a bad atmosphere, whatever, it's a bad momentum. But maybe it helped us to refocus and just be better in the details. But that doesn't mean that we can relax now or whatever. We need to have the same effort because they're going to be even better."

Nuggets coach Michael Malone eulogised over the performances of his star players.

"I think it's the first time in Finals history or maybe NBA history that two guys have 30, 10 triple-doubles, so that's incredible right there," Malone said.

"Regarding Nikola, nothing he does surprises me ever. This guy has shown time and time again that he's built for these moments. He thrives in these moments, the biggest stage. He did that once again tonight.

"I'm really proud of Jamal, and I could tell speaking to him yesterday, being around him the last 48 hours, that he was putting a lot of Game 2 on him, and it wasn't just him. It was me and every one of our players. It was collective.

"But that's what champions do. That's what warriors do. They battled back. I felt his presence all day long. Forget the stats for a second. I felt Jamal's presence, his energy, and he was here in the moment and for him and Nikola to do what they did tonight in a game that we needed to take, regain home-court advantage of the series was special to watch."

Reflecting on his performance in Game 2, Murray said: "I felt like I didn't bring the intensity that the moment called for. Even though I didn't play terrible, I felt like I could have done a lot more.

"Most people that have watched the Nuggets play, when I have a game like that, I'm most likely going to bounce back. Just one of those days. I think not just me but everybody bounced back. Everybody brought the energy. 

"Everybody was just coming into the game and wanting to bring the intensity that we're used to playing with."

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