We don’t know yet the exact date on which the 2017-18 NBA season will begin, but as of Friday afternoon, we know that it’ll get started a little later a couple of Central Division guards.
From the NBA:
The NBA announced today that Reggie Bullock of the Detroit Pistons and Monta Ellis of the Indiana Pacers have each been suspended without pay for five games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program. Their suspensions will begin with the next NBA regular season game that they are eligible and physically able to play.
The NBA didn’t specify the nature of Ellis and Bullock’s violations, but the penalty structure laid out in the joint anti-drug policy details only one offense that carries a five-game suspension: a third marijuana-related violation. From the 2017 collective bargaining agreement (emphasis mine):
(c) Penalties. Any player who (i) tests positive for marijuana pursuant to Section 5 (Reasonable Cause Testing), Section 6 (Random Testing), or Section 15 (Additional Bases for Testing), (ii) is adjudged by the Grievance Arbitrator pursuant to Section 5(e) above to have used or possessed marijuana, or (iii) has been convicted of (including a plea of guilty, no contest or nolo contendere to) the use or possession of marijuana in violation of the law, shall suffer the following penalties:
(A) For the first such violation, the player shall be required to enter the Marijuana Program;
(B) For the second such violation, the player shall be fined $25,000 and, if the player is not then subject to in-patient or aftercare treatment in the Marijuana Program, be required to enter the Marijuana Program;
(C) For the third such violation, the player shall be suspended for five (5) games and, if the player is not then subject to in-patient or aftercare treatment in the Marijuana Program, be required to enter the Marijuana Program; and
(D) For any subsequent violation, the player shall be suspended for five (5) games longer than his immediately-preceding suspension for violating the Marijuana Program and, if the player is not then subject to in-patient or aftercare treatment in the Marijuana Program, be required to enter the Marijuana Program.
New Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard does not sound very pleased by news that Ellis — a 31-year-old veteran who made 74 appearances and 33 starts for Indiana last season, who just posted his lowest per-game scoring average since his rookie season, and who currently stands as the Pacers’ third-highest-paid player — is facing a five-game rip:
The NBA announced Monta Ellis has been suspended for 5 games for violating the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 16, 2017
We got a more muted response out of Michigan:
#Pistons spokesman Kevin Grigg acknowledges team is aware of Bullock's suspension, but declined further comment.
— NerdOnTw1tter (@Vincent_Ellis56) June 16, 2017
The suspension will cost Ellis a shade under $390,000, according to Bobby Marks of The Vertical. How much it will cost Bullock remains to be seen.
We don’t yet know whether the Pistons will extend Bullock a $3.3 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent rather than just letting him walk come July 1. Even if they do enter RFA with the four-year veteran out of North Carolina, despite a relatively limited NBA track record — Bullock’s averaged only three points and 1.6 rebounds per game just over 1,600 minutes in 147 appearances for the Pistons, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers since entering the league in 2013 — the 6-foot-7 swingman could command an offer too rich for the blood of a Pistons team that’s got virtually no financial flexibility and that needs to try to retain another restricted free agent, starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
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