Nerlens Noel suspended for violating NBA’s anti-drug program

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor  

It’s kind of crazy to believe that we are only a season removed from the Sixers’ disastrous center logjam. Nerlens Noel was unhappy, Jahlil Okafor had trouble defending and neither of them had a chance to overtake Joel Embiid as the team’s number one center, prior to injury of course. Jahlil Okafor has since moved on to Brooklyn and still can’t find playing time while Noel has battled a thumb injury this season in Dallas, but recently returned to the Mavs rotation off the bench.  

Hoping to make a strong impression heading into the offseason and pending free agency, Noel’s season has ended on a sour note. The former Sixers big man has been fined and suspended for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program. 

ESPN’s Bobby Marks reports that Noel will be fined $144,400 for the violation. After being traded to the Mavericks last season for Justin Anderson and a pair of second-round picks, Noel looked to have an opportunity to be a consistent starter in Dallas’ lineup. Reports of his poor work ethic paired with nagging injuries kept Noel sidelined for parts of last season and this one.

In 30 games this season for Dallas, the 23-year-old Noel averaged four points and 5.6 rebounds in 15.7 minutes. Prior to the season, he reportedly turned down a four-year deal worth over $70 million from the Mavs and instead took a chance on himself with a one-year, $4 million qualifying offer to try and up his stock with free agency looming in 2018. That hasn’t gone according to plan for Noel. 

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