Atlanta Hawks

Hawks forward John Collins suspended 25 games for growth hormone

Another performance-enhancing drug suspension has been levied by the NBA — Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins will sit for the next 25 games.

The Atlanta Hawks are set to get guard Trae Young back faster than expected from an ankle injury Tuesday night against the San Antonio Spurs. But another of their young players will be out, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting forward John Collins has been suspended 25 games for a violation of the NBA’s Anti-Drug Policy.

According to Woj, Collins tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2. Phoenix Suns’ center Deandre Ayton was also suspended 25 games back in October after testing positive for a diuretic (a masking agent), and Collins is the NBA’s third performance-enhancing drug suspension just since August.

In his third season out of Wake Forest, Collins is a key piece of a promising Hawks’ team. He averaged 19.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game last season, and he’s averaging 17.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game through five games so far this season.

As expected, Collins has offered the typical and expected apology when a player gets busted for performance-enhancing substances. He also appears ready to appeal.

If the 25-game suspension holds up in-full on appeal, which seems likely, Collins would be eligible to return Dec. 23 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In Collins’ absence, Jabari Parker (13.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game this season) will step in to start at power forward for the Hawks. In smaller lineups, Vince Carter or De’Andre Hunter may also see some time at the 4-spot. Alex Len and Bruno Fernando are also in line for more playing time.

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As cited by Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk, Collin’s suspension (assuming it stays at 25 games) will cost him $610,582 of his $2,686,560 salary for this year. That’s 22.7 percent of his salary, as the No. 19 pick in the 2017 draft is still on his rookie-scale contract. But he’ll be eligible for a big contract extension next offseason, and if he maintains his prior production level when he returns from his suspension he’ll definitely get a nice payout.

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