Sonny Weems has likely played his last game for Maccabi Tel Aviv, with the yellow-and-blue set to cut its highest paid player after he failed to complete an anti-doping test on Saturday.
Weems, who earns in the region of $1.3 million this season and has a guaranteed contract for 2017/18 as well, has been one of the biggest disappointments in Maccabi’s dejecting season to date. He is averaging 11.6 points, 3.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game in the Euroleague and 7.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per contest in the BSL.
Maccabi considered buying out his contract and releasing him on several occasions so far this season, believing that he has also played a major part in the rift between the Israeli and American players on the roster.
The yellow-and-blue ultimately chose not to do so, largely due to the cost of such a move. However, by not completing a drug test, Weems effectively failed the test, which could allow Maccabi to void his contract.
Adding further intrigue to the story is the fact that the test, implemented by the Anti-Doping Committee of Israel, was ordered and paid for by Maccabi and was not one of the standard tests given after Euroleague games or arranged by FIBA and the Israel Basketball Association.
Weems vehemently denied any wrongdoing, explaining that the drug inspector was at fault.
“I don’t smoke drugs,” said Weems, who was told not to attend Sunday’s training session and Monday’s BSL game against Maccabi Ashdod. “I filled seven samples, but for some reason the tester kept throwing them out.
They kept me in an isolated room for six straight hours even though I told them my three-year-old son, who had arrived from Lithuania and doesn’t speak English, was waiting for me at the airport.
“I had to leave.”
One of the reasons the drug inspector may have had to throw out the samples was that drinking large amounts of fluids can result in diluted samples that can’t be tested.
Gal Mekel and Victor Rudd were also tested and their samples were sent to a lab in Germany.
“I’m really stunned that I’m being blamed for everything that has happened this season,” added Weems. “I have never been in a situation like this in my career. I took three drug tests in the NBA last season. I feel like someone is intentionally trying to hurt me.”
Without Weems, Maccabi improved to 13-3 in the BSL at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Monday, beating Maccabi Ashdod 91-85.
Tel Aviv led from start to finish, including by 21 points (78-57) early in the fourth quarter.
Ashdod managed to close within three points (86-83) in the final minute, but Maccabi held on for the win.
Andrew Goudelock led the yellow-and-blue with 18 points, with Chase Simon scoring 23 points for Ashdod.
“We let them get back into the game which we shouldn’t have done,” said Goudelock. “But that has been the case in a lot of games this year. We really need to watch the fourth quarter and see… why we give up leads.”
Goudelock said that no one at the club has spoken to the players regarding Weems’s situation.
“I pray for him. I made sure everything is okay with him and wished him luck on whatever he is doing next,” added Goudelock.
“But we don’t really know what is going on.”
Also Monday, Bnei Herzliya beat Hapoel Tel Aviv 86-81, while Hapoel Eilat defeated Maccabi Kiryat Gat 96-74.