The NBA’s anti-drug policy snared it’s first victim of the 2015-16 season. Charlotte Hornets center Al Jefferson was caught and has been suspended 5 games.
Jefferson was recently diagnosed with a calf injury that is supposed to keep him sidelined for a few weeks. Upon his healthy return is when the suspension will take effect.
Jefferson entered the league straight out of high school and was the big piece in the Kevin Garnett to Boston trade. Boston relinquished Jefferson to the Timberwolves while Garnett joined forces with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Jefferson spent three years in Minnesota and had career averages of 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds. Before signing with Charlotte as a free agent in 2013, Jefferson played in Utah for three seasons, averaging 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Jefferson was having a sub-par year, posting career lows in points (13.7), rebounding (8.7), and rebounding percentage (13.0%). His usage rage (24.0%) is at a nine year low. However grim the season may have been for Jefferson, it hasn’t hurt the Hornets who added significant offensive help in the offseason- Nic Batum, Jeremy Lamb, Jeremy Lin- to ease their reliance on Jefferson. The Hornets are 12-8 and are tied with the Pacers for the 4th best record in the Eastern Conference.
Jefferson issued this statement:
“I want to apologize to the Hornets organization, our owner, my teammates and my coaches for the poor decision that I made. I know I have let people down, especially the Hornets fans that have been so supportive of me since I arrived in Charlotte two years ago. I am blessed to be able to play the game that I love for a living and I do not take that for granted. From the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry, and I am committed to making smarter decisions in the future.”
The Hornets next game is tonight in Charlotte against Miami.
photo via llananba