Suns' Deandre Ayton Suspended 25 Games for NBA Drug Policy Violation

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2019

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) in the first half during an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton is facing a 25-game ban under the NBA's anti-drug policy, the league announced.

“I want to apologize to my family, the entire Suns organization, my teammates, partners, our fans and the Phoenix community," Ayton said in a statement, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. "This was an unintentional mistake and unfortunately I put something in my body that I was completely unaware of. I do understand the unfortunate impact that this has on so many others, and for that I am deeply sorry. I’m extremely disappointed that I’ve let my team down. I will continue to work with the NBPA to go through arbitration and am hopeful of a positive resolution.”

Wojnarowski first reported Ayton tested positive for a diuretic, which are typically used as masking agents. 

Tim Ring of ABC15 in Phoenix passed along a statement from Suns GM James Jones: 

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Ayton, 21, is in his second NBA season after being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. He had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the Suns' season-opening win over the Sacramento Kings.

Wojnarowski reported the NBPA plans to file for arbitration regarding the suspension, hoping to reduce or rescind the penalty. Ayton is filing the appeal based on "unintentional ingestion" and did not have any other banned substances in his system.

Drug suspensions are a rarity in the NBA. Ayton is only the 11th player since 2011 to be suspended under the league's drug policy.

Assuming the suspension sticks, it's a major blow for a Suns team that was expecting to be far more competitive in 2019-20. Their 124-95 blowout win over Sacramento was a promising start, with Ayton dominating in the middle as part of a stellar performance from the Suns starting lineup.

Aron Baynes will likely move into the starting lineup with Ayton out.