The NBA handed down its discipline in the wake of the New York Knicks-Memphis Grizzlies melee and Elfrid Payton was hit hardest.
A blowout loss turned ugly on Wednesday night in Madison Square Garden. The Memphis Grizzlies were torching the New York Knicks when Jae Crowder broke an unwritten rule by stealing the ball and chucking up a quick three in the final minute. Elfrid Payton responded by shoving Crowder into a row of empty seats, sparking a scuffle between the two teams.
The NBA fined and suspended Payton one game for his role in the altercation. In addition to the point guard’s discipline, Marcus Morris Sr. was fined for his part in the melee and his postgame comments referring to Crowder as “women-like.”
“We understand the NBA’s decision to fine and suspend Elfrid Payton, as well as fine Marcus Morris Sr. for their behavior during last night’s game,” the Knicks said in a statement. “In addition, we agree that Marcus’ comments were offensive and unacceptable. While we do believe his apology was sincere, that type of speech does not reflect the values of respect and inclusion that our organization stands for, and can not be tolerated.”
Morris apologized via Twitter minutes after making the comments and reiterated his apology to reporters at practice on Friday.
.@MookMorris2 apologizes for his unnecessary comments"
"I wasn't even thinking when I was talking" pic.twitter.com/9aGCVdY3j7
— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 31, 2020
“First, I’ll start off just apologizing deeply,” Morris said. “My comments were unnecessary and I wasn’t even thinking when I was talking.”
Without Payton in the lineup, interim head coach Mike Miller will have to rely on a pair of third-year point guards. Although Dennis Smith Jr. is healthy, Frank Ntilikina was not available in Wednesday’s game due to a nagging groin issue.
Should Ntilikina miss the game, Miller will have to figure out who plays point guard for the second unit. RJ Barrett has handled the ball this year, but he’s still nursing an ankle sprain.
With all this said, Payton’s suspension puts his coach and teammates in a difficult position. The Indiana Pacers will play host to the Knicks on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET).