Charlotte Hornets center Al Jefferson has been suspended for five games without pay by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.
Jefferson will serve the suspension once he recovers from the calf injury that has cost him the last three games before Wednesday’s matchup with the Miami Heat. The Hornets projected he would miss two to three weeks with the injury.
Jefferson issued a statement through the Hornets expressing regret for his actions.
"I want to apologize to the Hornets organization, our owner, my teammates and my coaches for the poor decision that I made," Jefferson’s statement read.
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"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."
Jefferson becomes a free agent in July after the three-season contract he signed in the summer of 2013 expires. It is unclear how this suspension might affect the Hornets’ interest in re-signing him, but the team issued a statement saying it doesn’t condone Jefferson’s behavior.
"We are disappointed in Al’s decisions that led to this suspension. As an organization, we do not condone this behavior," the team statement read. "We have addressed this with Al. He is regretful and understands that we expect him to learn from this mistake."
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell