Mavs’ Nerlens Noel suspended last 5 games for drug violation

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks center Nerlens Noel has been suspended for the final five games of the season for a violation of the NBA’s anti-drug program.

The NBA announced the suspension Tuesday, ending a lost season for a player trying to earn a long-term contract after failed negotiations last offseason resulted in him signing the team’s qualifying offer of just $4.1 million for one year. The suspension starts Tuesday night against Portland.

Noel played just 30 games, with most of the missed time coming after surgery for a torn ligament in his left thumb in December. Before that injury was announced, the 23-year-old Noel had appeared to fall out of favor with coach Rick Carlisle.

After getting regular minutes for the first three weeks of the season, Noel’s playing time dropped dramatically before he was benched for six games before the thumb injury was revealed. He averaged 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 16 minutes a game in his fourth season.