Nerlens Noel‘s year has been a disaster.
He rejected a sizable contract to accept the qualifying offer, got labeled as not a hard worker and left the Mavericks for weeks for a not-pressing thumb surgery. The most notable thing he did this season was eat a hot dog.
Now, he and the Jazz’s Thabo Sefolosha have been suspended.
The NBA announced today that Nerlens Noel of the Dallas Mavericks and Thabo Sefolosha of the Utah Jazz have each been suspended without pay for five games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.
Noel’s suspension will begin with tonight’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Portland Trail Blazers. Sefolosha’s suspension will begin with the next NBA regular season or playoff game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.
Though the NBA doesn’t name the drug, the only five-game drug suspension specified in the Collective Bargaining Agreement is for a third marijuana violation. In a time where marijuana is increasingly legal and accepted, the NBA shouldn’t test and penalize players for it. Yet, here we are.
It’s particularly absurd to test someone like Sefolosha, who’s out for the season injured. And while he might garner more sympathy than Noel, don’t forget both players are hurt by this antiquated policy.
At least Noel can finish this suspension during this already-lost season. Dallas has five games left. Then, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.
Sefolosha’s $5.25 million salary next season is unguaranteed. His versatility unlocked many effective lineups, but him having to miss five games next season could influence Utah’s decision.