Terrel Harris in Hot Water?


April 3, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Terrel Harris (12) reacts after a foul call against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Hornets 98-88. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Terrel Harris has received a 5 game suspension for violating the terms of the NBPA drug program. From a basketball standpoint, this will affect the Blazers very little, if at all. Harris is currently their 15th man, but his contract is not guaranteed. Even if Portland keeps him, he does not figure to play in most of their games. However; his behavior is disheartening to a fanbase whose team has seen its share of drug related problems.

We’ve come a long way since the Jail Blazer era, and any slip-up in the public eye is bad news bears for the man at fault. The drug in question is most likely marijuana, as the NBPA third strike for use is a 5 game suspension without disclosure of the substance:

Section 3: Confidentiality, sub-section (a)

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, absent the agreement of the Players Association or the prior disclosure of such information by the player (or by a person authorized by the player to disclose such information).

Section 8: Marijuana Program, sub-section (c): Penalties, part (C)

For the third such violation, the player shall be suspended for five (5) games and, if the player is not then subject to in-patient or aftercare treatment in the Marijuana Program, be required to enter the Marijuana Program.

On the bright side, there is no way that it is SPEDs (Steroid, Performance Enhancing Drugs), which is a much more serious offense. Firstly, that would just be silly. It does not take that much leg strength to ride a bench, though he may get sore hammies. Secondly, the very first offense mandates a 10 game suspension. As a sidenote, congratulations on not having to comb Article XXXIII of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Section 9: Steroids, Performance-Enhancing Drugs and Masking Agents Program, sub-section (c): Penalties

Any player who (i) tests positive for a SPED pursuant to Section 5 (Reasonable Cause Testing), Section 6 (Random Testing), or Section 14 (Additional Bases for Testing), or (ii) is adjudged by the Grievance Arbitrator pursuant to Section 5(e) above to have used or possessed a SPED, shall suffer the following penalties: (A) For the first such violation, the player shall be suspended for ten (10) games and required to enter the SPED Program.

My advice to Harris would be to tread very cautiously. In his situation, prodding a franchise’s sore points is the best way to lose one’s contract. In spite of his 2012 Miami Heat Championship ring, he’s been a D-leaguer before and he could be again. It was not too long ago that Portland contemplated axing him in pursuit of Ian Clark, who has since signed with the Jazz. The roster doesn’t exactly fall apart without him on it.

BUT, and this is a big but, I urge you not to turn on him. Everyone makes mistakes, and although we may have a difference in opinion, I believe this to be a relatively small one. Harris will be reprimanded accordingly, and there is no real reason for Portland to let him go unless they have a suitable replacement in mind. As desperate as the Blazers were to grasp any shadow of depth last season, it would be foolish to cast aside warm-body injury insurance over a minor transgression. I suggest we settle a bit, shrug our shoulders, and let our disappointment fade away like the ‘womps’ of a sad trombone.

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