The Washington Wizards already faces a tough task ahead of them with the top-seeded Raptors looming in the opening round of the playoffs. Things just got even tougher as they'll be without Jodie Meeks for the playoffs. Meeks failed a drug test and has been suspended 25 games. Via NBA.com:
Jodie Meeks of the Washington Wizards has been suspended without pay for twenty-five games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for Ipamorelin and Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2, it was announced today by the NBA.
Meeks' suspension will begin with tomorrow's game between the Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors.
Meeks' lawyer said they will appeal the suspension, but under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, Meeks won't be able to play during the appeal. Via ESPN:
It is regrettable that the NBA has prematurely taken action against Jodie today. Accordingly, we will appeal the suspension and vigorously defend Jodie's rights. Unfortunately, under the CBA, a player is guilty until proven innocent and while Jodie's appeal is pending he will be forced to sit out the playoffs."
Meeks himself also issued a statement, saying his is "heartbroken and perplexed" by the suspension.
"For the past nine years I have been humbled every day to have the opportunity to walk into an NBA arena and see the name Meeks on the back of an NBA jersey," Meeks said in a statement to ESPN. "As part of my commitment to playing in the NBA for nine years, I have been subject to countless mandatory tests for any and all drugs including performance enhancing drugs. I have passed each and every drug test without issue for the last nine years.
"Because I have never used a drug of any kind I am absolutely heartbroken and perplexed with the news today. Let me be clear: I have never taken anything whatsoever for a performance-enhancing reason. I respect the game of basketball too much."
Meeks averaged 6.3 points per game off the bench for the Wizards this season, and though he didn't have his best season shooting the ball provided a 3-point threat. A career 37 percent 3-point shooter, Meeks hit just over 34 percent of his attempts this season, but even so he still helped space the floor.
He wasn't likely to be a huge part of their playoff rotation, but this is still an unfortunate loss for the Wizards, who were already dealing with a lack of depth. Washington begins their first-round playoff series with the No. 1 seed, the Toronto Raptors, on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.