Coming off of a four day stretch between the Atlanta Hawks’ last game against the Miami Heat, some less than ideal news broke Tuesday morning ahead of the Hawks’ one and only visit from the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night. In news first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Hawks big man John Collins has been suspended 25 games for violating the NBA’s Anti-Drug policy.
The NBA later announced the suspension, saying that Collins is “suspended without pay for 25 games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (GHRP-2).”
Collins issued an apology, also via Wojnarowski, in which he also states he will be appealing his suspension.
“First I want to apologize to my teammates, the Hawks organization, our fans, partners and community as a whole for this situation,” Collins said. “I understand the impact this matter has on what we are trying to achieve together this season, and I am incredibly frustrated and disappointed in myself for putting all us in this position. I have always been incredibly careful about what I put in my body, but I took a supplement, which unbeknownst to me, had been contaminated with an illegal component. I plan to appeal my suspension in arbitration so I can get back on the court as soon as possible and continue to contribute to our 2019-20 campaign.”
Collins has also reportedly started the appeal process with the NBPA.
John Collins is working with the NBPA to begin the appeal process.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 5, 2019
At noon ET, the Hawks released a statement from Travis Schlenk.
“On behalf of the entire Hawks organization, we are disappointed to learn that John put himself in an unfortunate situation and violated the league’s anti-drug policy,” Schlenk said. “We hold ourselves and each of our players to a high standard, and we are committed to supporting John as he learns from this setback and continues to grow as both a player and a person. Head Coach Lloyd Pierce and I have both talked to him and we believe that he is truly remorseful for his actions. We will provide John with support on and off the court while we look forward to his return to the team.”
In the meantime, Collins is set to lose more than $600,000 in salary if the 25-game suspension stands, with the Hawks gaining no salary cap relief.
25-game suspension for John Collins will cost $610,582. This is the third player (Wilson Chandler and Deandre Ayton) that has been suspended 25 games for violating the Anti-Drug Policy. Unprecedented right now.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) November 5, 2019
After Nov. 12, the Hawks can gain an extra roster spot to sign an additional player if they so choose. If the 25-game suspension is upheld, Collins would be eligible to return to action on Dec. 23 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is obviously a huge blow to the Hawks and any ambitions they have this season. Collins was the best player on the team last season from a net rating standpoint and was off to a fantastic start on both ends of the floor. The team is already short-handed in the frontcourt, specifically at the center position, where Collins had been spending nearly a third of his time.
Jabari Parker seemingly projects as the team’s most prominent power forward in Collins’ extended absence, with Vince Carter potentially in line for additional playing time at the position. The suspension is obviously pending the process of his appeal but Collins will begin serving the 25-game hiatus on Tuesday.