After news of Bahamian and Phoenix Suns’ DeAndre Ayton’s 25-game suspension spread like wildfire on social media late Thursday night, he issued an apology.
Ayton received the hammer for violating the National Basketball Association (NBA)/National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Anti-Drug Program.
“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 released by Phoenix Suns General Manager James Jones.
“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.”
In that same statement, Jones said, “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.
“This does not uphold the standards and principles we have set for the team.
“Deandre has expressed his deepest remorse. 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.’’
In a statement on Thursday night, the NBA said Ayton tested positive for a diuretic.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, a follow-up test on Ayton revealed no traces of any other banned substance.
His suspension began last night when his team took on the Denver Nuggets. If it is upheld, the suspension will end December 17 when the Suns are set to take on the Los Angeles Clippers.
According to league sources, the NBPA plans to file arbitration papers immediately on behalf of Ayton, believing that there will be a case to have the penalty reduced or rescinded based on a collective bargaining agreement provision of “unintentional ingestion”.
The number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft began his sophomore campaign on Wednesday night with a 124-95 victory over Bahamian Chavano “Buddy” Hield’s Sacramento Kings at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
The former Arizona Wildcat had a double-double, coming away with 18 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and a steal in the win.
Ayton is a huge centerpiece in the Sun’s resurgence on the NBA scene. That will have to be put on hold for now.
As a rookie, Ayton averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, starting almost every game at center for the Suns. He was the only rookie in the league to average a double-double, and was just the third player in the league in the past decade to average a double-double in their rookie season, joining NBA All-Star players Blake Griffin and Karl-Anthony Towns. Ayton was also voted to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and finished with one of the highest field goal percentages among rookies in the history of the league. He led the Suns in rebounding and was second on the team in field goal percentage and third in scoring.
Ayton led all rookies in rebounding and field goal percentage among those with at least 300 attempts, was fourth in scoring and seventh in blocked shots (0.9 per contest). He was 10th in the entire league in field goal percentage, 13th in rebounding and 54th in scoring. On October 27 last year, he recorded 24 points on near-perfect shooting (12-of-13 shots made) along with eight rebounds and five assists in a 117-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. With that performance, Ayton became just the second rookie in 40 seasons (first being Adam Keefe) to have at least 12 shots with a 90 percent or higher field goal percentage. He sprained his left ankle on March 30 against the Grizzlies, missing the Suns’ final five games of the regular season, but came back healthy and ready to go this season.