NBA suspends J.R. Smith five games for third violation of substance abuse policy

JR Smith KnicksJ.R. Smith has been suspended for five games, without pay, by the NBA for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News notes that the suspension is not for performance enhancing drugs and that the five-game suspension likely means he tested positive for marijuana.

The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement notes that a player will be suspended for five games if it is their third violation of the program. For the first violation, the player is required to enter a marijuana program. The second violation results in a $25,000 fine.

According to the CBA, “If a player is suspended or disqualified for conduct involving a Drug of Abuse or marijuana, the NBA shall not publicly disclose the particular prohibited substance involved.”

The suspension “will begin with the first game of the 2013-14 season for which he is eligible and physically able to play,” the NBA announced. Smith had surgery on his knee in July and was expected to miss 12-16 weeks.

Amit Badlani

The Knicks knew when they re-signed Smith, they were getting a talented scorer off the bench, and also a person with poor judgement. This is his third violation, all for reportedly using marijuana. This is his fourth multi-game suspension. Considering the increased competition in the Eastern Conference this season, Smith needs to understand that the consequences for these actions not only affect himself, but also the rest of the team.

Ben Kopelman

It’s not the five games that anybody should care about so much as the fact that JR is still “being JR” in the most negative sense of the phrase. We all know he can be a loose canon in many respects — be it chucking up a horrible three-point shot with twenty seconds left on the shot clock, or getting into an Instagram war during the playoffs — but you hope that those days are slowly but surely behind him; that he is focused on improving his approach to being a professional, being reliable, and being a winner; that he is ready to take the next step in his life and his career.

Every fan seems to live on an extreme end of the Smith-spectrum: either maturity is right around the corner or he is a lost cause who cannot be relied on to grow. I think it unfair to argue that his actions here completely push him into that latter characterization, but they certainly do not help him inch closer to the former, which is the direction in which we all want — and need — him to be moving.