Hornets guard Malik Monk was finally starting to put it all together as an NBA player over the past few weeks. He is averaging 17 points per game on relatively efficient shooting numbers in his past 13 games, and on Tuesday even made his first career start. That progress will now have to be put on hold, though, as Monk has been suspended by the NBA for violating the league's anti-drug program.
His suspension will last "until he is determined to be in full compliance with the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program," and he will not be paid during his suspension. It is not yet known what substance or substances Monk took that led to the violation. He has not been suspended for violating the league's drug policy in the past, nor has the league specified what it would take for Monk to be in compliance with it.
The indefinite nature of this suspension, though, suggests that this is a serious offense. First offenses for performance-enhancing drugs carry a 25-game suspension, but the league defined instance as a violation of the league's anti-drug program. Marijuana violations, for instance, do not carry a suspension until the third offense, and even then it is only for five games.
While the Hornets are not in playoff contention, losing Monk is still a blow for a team whose offense has fallen off a cliff lately. Devonte' Graham, who rose from unheralded 2018 second-round pick to leading scorer, has shot only 34.6 percent from the field in his past 10 games as his newfound workload has seemingly caught up with him. On Tuesday, the Hornets were held to only 30 points in the second and third quarters combined as the Pacers blew them out.
Monk is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists and minutes this season. He is eligible for a contract extension after the season, but this suspension certainly won't help matters. When you factor in the money he will lose from this suspension, this violation will likely end up costing Monk millions of dollars.