Nerlens Noel, Thabo Sefolosha suspended for 5 games

ByABC News
April 3, 2018, 12:54 PM

Dallas Mavericks center Nerlens Noel and Utah Jazz forward Thabo Sefolosha have been suspended five games without pay for violating the league's anti-drug program, the NBA announced Tuesday.

The program states that players are suspended five games after a third positive test for marijuana. Noel's ban begins Tuesday night, when Dallas faces the Portland Trail Blazers, and ends his season. Sefolosha, who has been out since January after having knee surgery, will serve his suspension when he is physically able to play. 

The suspension likely marks the end of Noel's tenure with the Mavericks, who acquired the center from the Philadelphia 76ers at the 2017 trade deadline. As a restricted free agent, Noel declined a four-year, $70 million offer from the Mavericks last summer, countering by asking for a maximum contract. According to sources, Mavs owner Mark Cuban immediately pulled the offer off the table and never made another one, with Noel eventually signing a one-year, $4.2 million qualifying offer after changing agents.

Noel, 23, fell out of coach Rick Carlisle's rotation before undergoing thumb surgery in December; he returned to action in late February. Noel averaged 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 30 games this season. His tenure with the Mavs might best be characterized by his decision to visit the media dining room to get a hot dog at halftime of a Dec. 2 game in which he did not play because of a coach's decision.

Sefolosha is in the first year of a two-year, $10.5 million contract. The second $5.25 million becomes guaranteed if the Jazz do not waive him by July 1.

Sefolosha, 33, a 12-year veteran with a reputation for being an excellent defender, averaged 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 38 games this season.