With the start of the NBA playoffs less than 24 hours away, Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes will face a 20-game suspension from the league for violation of its Anti-Drug Program.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the substance that Calathes tested positive for was Tamoxifen -- an agent classified under the broad classification of "performance enhancer" in the Anti-Drug Program. One of the functions of Tamoxifen is to reduce estrogen levels, which makes it of particular use as a companion dose in a steroid cycle. Tamoxifen then helps counter some of the side effects of anabolic steroids that stem from unusually high levels of circulating estrogen.
That said, Wojnarowski's report also notes that there were no traces of testosterone or any other actual performance-enhancing drug in Calathes' sample.
Due to its inclusion under the “Steroids, Performance Enhancing Drugs, and Masking Agents” section of the NBA’s Anti-Drug Program, use of Tamoxifen (or any other substances in this category) requires an automatic 20-game suspension for a first violation, a 45-game suspension for a second violation and a dismissal from the NBA for a third violation. The suspension, once announced, will disqualify Calathes from the Grizzlies' first round series against the Thunder and well beyond.
This is a very real loss for Memphis, which has relied on Calathes almost exclusively to fill the minutes behind starting point guard Mike Conley. That role will now likely fall to nine-year veteran Beno Udrih, whom the Grizzlies claimed off of waivers from the Knicks in February. He's a capable backup, but Udrih has played all of 55 minutes with the team since his arrival. That's unfortunate given that it takes a certain familiarity to be able to operate and make plays from within Memphis' cramped, post-centric offense -- a dimension of the game in which Calathes had proven valuable. Udrih will be starting from square one in that regard, as he'll look to quickly establish chemistry with his teammates under the pressure and scrutiny of the NBA playoffs. This was Calathes' first year in the NBA, in which he averaged 4.9 points and 2.9 assists in 71 games for the Grizzlies.