The Hornets expected Al Jefferson to miss two-to-three weeks as he recovers from a calf injury.
Once he is ready to step back onto the court, the NBA will keep him sidelined for another five games.
The 30-year-old center violated the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.
While the league hasn’t confirmed on record exactly what Jefferson is being suspended for, the five-game ban coincides with the same length of time a player draws for failing a third marijuana test.
Jefferson will not be paid for the five games he misses due to the suspension and his ban won’t begin until he is eligible and physically capable of playing.
“We are disappointed in Al’s decisions that led to this suspension,” the Hornets wrote in a statement. “As an organization, we do not condone this behavior. We have addressed this with Al. He is regretful and understands that we expect him to learn from this mistake.”
Charlotte has been without its starting center for each of the past three games, as he missed the finale of a seven-game home stand, the same night Stephen Curry took over the city by scoring 40 points in three quarters.
Other than a loss to the Warriors, the Hornets have managed without Jefferson, winning in Chicago then returning home to defeat the Pistons by 20 points Monday night.
For the year, Jefferson is averaging 13.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 blocks per game, the lowest amount of productivity since he became a full-time starter in the NBA.
“I want to apologize to the Hornets organization, our owner, my teammates and my coaches for the poor decision that I made,” Jefferson added in a statement of his own. “I know I have let people down, especially the Hornets fans that have been so supportive of me since I arrived in Charlotte two years ago. I am blessed to be able to play the game that I love for a living and I do not take that for granted. From the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry, and I am committed to making smarter decisions in the future.”