Charlotte Hornets center Al Jefferson has been suspended for five games for violating the league’s drug policy. While the specific violation has not been released, it has been noted that a five-game suspension occurs after a player’s third positive marijuana test. The Hornets and Jefferson have released a brief official statement that expresses disappointment and regret. Jefferson will only be eligible to serve the suspension once he has recovered from the strained left calf that has already kept him out of the last three Hornets contests.
Being competitive in every game will be necessary for the Hornets, who are currently tied with the Indiana Pacers for the fourth-best record in an extremely tight Eastern Conference, at 12-8. Only 2.5 games separate the East’s first seed, the Cleveland Cavaliers (14-7), and the East’s tenth seed, the Detroit Pistons (12-10).
The Hornets have a deep lineup of big men, including Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky, to back up Jefferson. This has led to the big man receiving fewer minutes per game (26.2) and scoring fewer points per game (13.7) than he has in any season since 2005-06, when he was a 21-year-old with the Boston Celtics. Still, all of Jefferson’s rate and efficiency statistics are in-line with his career averages. So far, Jefferson has turned the ball over less frequently than any other qualified player this NBA season.
The Hornets have gone 2-1 in the games that Jefferson has missed, and they host the second-seeded Miami Heat tonight in Charlotte.