The Chicago Bulls’ next head coach will be a familiar face.
Doug Collins, who has coached the Bulls, Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons, will be hired as Chicago’s new coach.
Among the factors that led to Collins’ decision to return to the NBA: his relationship with Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson, whom he coached; his relationship with team owner Jerry Reinsdorf, whom he worked for earlier in his coaching career; and the fond memories he has of his time in Chicago in the early part of Michael Jordan’s prolific career.
Earlier this month, Collins told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that he had “no interest” in coaching again.
Paxson said Thursday in a statement that the Bulls and Collins do not have a deal.
“I have been in contact with Doug Collins in regard to our head coaching position. Contrary to some reports that are currently out there, we have not reached an agreement,” Paxson said. “Right now, his commitment is covering the Western Conference Finals for TNT. When that series concludes, we will continue our dialogue.
“In the meantime, I will continue to talk to other candidates and review our options.”
Collins, currently an NBA analyst with TNT, last coached in 2002 with the Wizards. His overall record is 332-228, 15-23 in the postseason.
Collins, who started coaching the Bulls in 1986, was fired in 1989, despite leading the team to the Eastern Conference finals. He was replaced by Phil Jackson, who went on to coach the team to six NBA titles.
Collins made the playoffs all three seasons in Chicago and his teams went 137-109.
Expected to contend in the Eastern Conference after reaching the second round of the playoffs last season, Chicago plummeted, losing 49 games. Coach Scott Skiles was fired in December, and interim coach Jim Boylan lost his job after the season finale. But suddenly, luck seems to be smiling on the Bulls.
Chicago will pick first overall in the 2008 draft after winning the draft lottery.
Collins also had a solid NBA playing career, averaging 17.9 points in eight seasons after being selected No. 1 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1973 draft out of Illinois State. He was selected to four All-Star games.