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Al Jefferson cleared to play, begins serving five-game suspension

Big Al's recovered from his calf injury and will begin to serve his suspension tonight.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets center Al Jefferson has been cleared to play and will begin to serve his five-game suspension as he sits out tonight's game against the Orlando Magic, the Hornets said on Twitter.

Jefferson was recovering from a left calf injury he sustained in the first quarter of the Hornets' game against the Milwaukee Bucks back on Nov. 29. He underwent an MRI and was given a timetable of 2-3 weeks. However, the NBA announced Dec. 9 that Jefferson had violated its anti-drug program and suspended him for five games.

Because Jefferson was injured at the time of his suspension, he had to wait until he was medically cleared to play before he could begin his suspension. Tonight's game will be the first of the bunch, and assuming Jefferson stays healthy and safe, he should be back on the floor Dec. 26 against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Cody Zeller will continue to start at center until he gets back, though it's possible head coach Steve Clifford decides to bring Jefferson off of the bench, as the team's played much better basketball in his absence. He's still a fine player, but the team's offense no longer revolves around Jefferson.

We'll see what happens. Either way, happy to hear he's doing well.