Deandre Ayton at the 2018 NBA Draft in Brooklyn, New York.
Chris Marion/NBAE | Getty Images
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton issued an apology for what he labeled an “unintentional mistake” after the NBA handed down a 25-game suspension to the second-year player on Thursday evening for violating the terms of the league and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) anti-drug program.
According to the league’s announcement, Ayton tested positive for a diuretic, which is banned by the league as diuretics can be used to hide or cleanse the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
“I do understand the unfortunate impact that this has on so many others, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” Ayton said in a statement. “I’m extremely disappointed that I’ve let my team down.”
With the 25-game suspension, Ayton will lose roughly $2 million in salary. Ayton, 21, entered the season expecting to earn approximately $116,620 per game in 82 regular-season outings, which totals about $9.5 million for the 2019-20 season.
According to ESPN, the NBPA is planning to appeal Ayton’s suspension with the thinking this incident falls under the “unintentional ingestion” provision of the collective bargaining agreement.
“On behalf of the Phoenix Suns organization, (coach) Monty Williams and I are disappointed in the actions by Deandre Ayton that led to his testing positive for a banned diuretic and subsequent suspension by the NBA,” Suns GM James Jones said in a statement. “This does not uphold the standards and principles we have set for the team.”
“Deandre has expressed his deepest remorse,” Jones continued. “While he is suspended we remain committed to his growth and development on and off the court. His actions are not taken lightly, and we are committed to ensuring that Deandre understands the profound impact it has had on the team, organization, and Suns community.”
Drafted No. 1 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Suns, Ayton, a former University of Arizona standout, finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds in his season debut, helping the Suns beat the Sacramento Kings, 124-95 earlier this week. In his rookie season, Ayton averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 71 games.
Ayton’s suspension will start Friday as he will miss the Suns’ contest against the Denver Nuggets. As of now, he will be eligible to return to the lineup on Dec. 17 against the Los Angeles Clippers.
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