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Nevada alum Jalen Harris (drug violation) 'dismissed and disqualified' from NBA

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Nevada alum Jalen Harris played in 13 games for the Toronto Raptors this season. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Former Nevada basketball player Jalen Harris has been dismissed and disqualified from the NBA for at least one year, according to a report by Stadium's Shams Charania. The NBA later confirmed the report.

Harris violated the terms of the league's anti-drug program and can to reapply for reinstatement in one year. Harris is the fourth player suspended by the league for at least one season under the NBA drug policy in the last 20 years, joining Tyreke Evans, OJ Mayo and Chris Andersen.

"The NBA, NBA teams, and the NBPA are prohibited from publicly disclosing information regarding the testing or treatment of any NBA player under the Anti-Drug Program, other than to announce a player’s suspension or dismissal from the league," the NBA said in a news release.

The 22-year-old Harris played in 13 games during his rookie season with the Toronto Raptors and averaged 7.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. He shot 47.2 percent from the field, including 50 percent from three. Harris capped his first season in the NBA by scoring a career-high 31 points with four rebounds in a game in his hometown of Dallas. Harris' 31-point outburst marked just the fourth time a Nevada player has scored at least 30 points in the NBA (out of 3,346 NBA games played by Wolf Pack products).

The NBA's drug policy dismisses players who test positive for drugs of abuse. That list of drugs does not include marijuana, which the NBA stopped testing for this season. In previous years, the league conducted random tests for marijuana but paused that policy when the NBA season restarted in 2019-20 during the middle of the pandemic. That pause carried over to this season, but the NBA continued to test for performance-enhancing drugs and drugs of abuse.

"Due to the unusual circumstances in conjunction with the pandemic, we have agreed with the NBPA to suspend random testing for marijuana for the 2020-21 season and focus our random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse," NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said prior to the start of the season.

Performance-enhancing positive tests carry a 25-game ban for first offense with drugs of abuse leading to dismissal and disqualification. The last NBA player to be dismissed and disqualified from the league for a season was Evans on May 17, 2019. He was given a two-year period before he was allowed to apply for reinstatement. On July 1, 2016, Mayo also was hit with a minimum two-year ban. Players typically have to wait two years to apply for reinstatement following a positive test for a drug of abuse but first-year players must wait only one season.

"If a player tests positive for a Drug of Abuse during Random Testing or Reasonable Cause Testing, he will be dismissed and disqualified from the NBA," the league's CBA reads. "A player will also be dismissed and disqualified from the NBA if he is convicted of, or pleads guilty, no contest or nolo contendre to, a crime involving the use or possession of a Drug of Abuse."

First-year players are automatically dismissed for drug of abuse positive tests but can receive up to 25 percent of their salary and living expenses after being dismissed from the league as long as they're in compliance with inpatient or aftercare rehabilitation obligations, per the NBA CBA. That payment can't last for more than one year from the date of dismissal and disqualification.

Harris was on a two-way contract with the Raptors this season and made $449,115 last season. He had a $1,489,065 qualifying offer with the Raptors for next season but his contract is now ruled null and void. If he did gain reinstatement to the league, his rights would still be owned by the Raptors.

The NBA's list of drugs of abuse is lengthy.

Only 24 players/owners have been hit with a permanent ban by the NBA. Seven were later reinstated by the NBA, including Andersen, who was reinstated after two years in 2008. Harris must complete an in-patient treatment before being allowed to apply for reinstatement.

The NBA's CBA states the following on players seeking reinstatement: "Among the factors that may be considered by the NBA and the Players Association in determining whether to grant reinstatement are (without limitation): the circumstances surrounding the player's dismissal and disqualification; whether the player has satisfactorily completed a treatment and rehabilitation program; the player's conduct since his dismissal, including the extent to which the player has since comported himself as a suitable role model for youth; and whether the player is judged to possess the requisite qualities of good character and morality."

Harris spent two seasons at Nevada, including one as an active player after transferring from Louisiana Tech. The 6-foot-5 combo guard had one of the best seasons in Wolf Pack history in 2019-20, averaging 21.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. That included a Wolf Pack record four straight 30-point games, a run broken when he tallied 29 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in a win over UNLV. Harris made 44.6 percent of his shots, including 36.2 percent from three, during his junior season at Nevada before turning pro.

Invited to the NBA draft combine, Harris, a 6-foot-5 combo guard, posted elite numbers and was the only player to post top-10 marks in each of the athletic testing categories. He was the No. 59 overall pick of the 2020 draft by the Toronto Raptors, becoming the 16th player in Wolf Pack history selected in the NBA draft.

Harris spent part of the year in the G League bubble where he averaged averaged 15.1 points on 43.2 percent shooting, including 42.6 percent from three, in nine games. Harris dealt with hand, hip and foot injuries during his rookie season, missing time with each malady. With a minimum season-long suspension, Harris' future in the NBA is foggy after ending his rookie season on a high note.

"Whoever takes that chance on me, I’m going to make sure they don’t regret it," Harris said on NSN Daily last November prior to the draft.


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