Phoenix Suns had an encouraging season opener on Wednesday night with a blowout 124-95 win over Sacramento Kings. But, they might have trouble building upon that since they will have to play a good portion of the season without their starting center Deandre Ayton.
NBA announced on Thursday that Ayton, who was the No.1 overall pick in 2018 NBA Draft, will be suspended for 25 games due to violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. According to ESPN, the 21-year-old tested positive for a diuretic, which is banned by the NBA as it can mask performance-enhancing drug use.
Ayton reportedly wasn’t aware that he was violating the league’s rules as he used diuretics in an attempt to lose weight. The National Basketball Players Association intends to file an appeal on his behalf, hoping to reduce the suspension, arguing this was a case of “unintentional ingestion.”
“I want to apologize to my family, the entire Suns organization, my teammates, partners, our fans and the Phoenix community,” – said Ayton in a statement. “This was an unintentional mistake and unfortunately I put something in my body that I was completely unaware of.”
Losing Deandre Ayton might prove to be catastrophic for the Phoenix Suns as the team hoped they could finally play some meaningful basketball this season. Ayton was one of the best players on court against Kings, contributing with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks.
In his rookie season, Ayton played 71 games, averaging 16.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists.