After falling to the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 6-24 record, including a seventh straight loss tonight, the Hawks finally have something to look forward to. John Collins, who received a 25-game suspension in early November, served the final game of that ban tonight.
He will be eligible to return Monday as Atlanta hosts the Cavaliers, and coach Lloyd Pierce plans to use him as a starter without any minutes restriction, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Collins has been traveling and working out with the team during his suspension, and Pierce said he has remained in playing shape.
Collins looked like a future star last season, averaging 19.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in 61 games, and the Hawks have plummeted in his absence. They posted a 4-21 record without him and are tied with the Warriors for the worst mark in the league.
Collins’ suspension came after he tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2. As the Journal-Constitution explains, GHRP-2 is a synthetic chemical of ghrelin, a hormone produced and released mainly by the stomach. Ghrelin stimulates growth hormone secretion and appetite/meal initiation.
The suspension cost Collins more than $610K in salary. When it was announced, he issued a statement staying he planned to contest it through arbitration. The newspaper states that it’s unclear whether he changed his mind or if an appeal was turned down.
Collins hasn’t made any public comment during the suspension, but is expected to speak to the media when he returns to the court Monday.