CHICAGO (AP) — To shape their future, the Chicago Bulls could turn to the past.
Doug Collins, who guided the Bulls and a young Michael Jordan from 1986-89 but couldn't get them past Detroit in the playoffs, has talked with the team about returning as coach.
"I have spoken with Bulls management recently about their head coaching vacancy and will resume conversations after the conclusion of my work for TNT in the Western Conference finals," Collins said in a statement Thursday from Los Angeles, where he was working Game 5 of the Spurs-Lakers series. "There is no agreement in place."
During a pre-game interview on TNT, Collins said he talked with both Bulls general manager John Paxson and team owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
"I have not been offered. I have not accepted," Collins said.
"Jerry Reinsdorf has been a friend of mine the last 20 years so he and I have spoken on a lot of occasions over the last 20 years. ... the whole thing is there's interest on both sides."
Collins added that as soon as the Western Conference finals were over: "We've agreed to sit down and talk to see exactly what is there."
Known for his emotional style, Collins also coached the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Wizards — when Jordan was head of basketball operations there and made a comeback as a player.
Chicago has had a vacancy since interim coach Jim Boylan was fired after the end of a disappointing 33-49 season. Boylan had replaced Scott Skiles, who was fired last Christmas Eve after the Bulls' surprisingly sluggish start following three straight playoff appearances.
The Bulls have a nucleus of young talent and also won the recent draft lottery, giving them the overall No. 1 pick next month when they are expected to choose between Kansas State's Michael Beasley or Memphis' Derrick Rose.
But they are coming off a season fraught with problems that included players missing practices and having angry exchanges with coaches. Joakim Noah, last year's first-round pick, was recently arrested in Gainesville, Fla., for having an open container of alcohol and was also charged with marijuana possession.
Collins, who appeared content to stay in TV, where is considered one of the best analysts, could be ready to tackle an NBA head coaching job for the fourth time. He's been fired three times. Web sites at both the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune said Collins would fill Chicago's vacancy.
Collins said he decided to explore the job after getting the go-ahead and encouragement from his son Chris, who is an assistant coach at Duke.
"Chris has always been the reluctant one. He basically really gave me the real freedom to explore opportunities that maybe I hadn't done over the last five years," Collins said.
Paxson released a statement that was posted on the team's Web site.
"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," said Paxson, who played under Collins during his first stint in Chicago.
"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," Paxson added.
The Bulls had been interested in former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, but he took the Knicks job before Chicago could make an offer.
Collins had a 137-109 record during his first stint with the Bulls, going 40-42 in his first season when they were swept in the first round by Boston.
Chicago was 50-32 the next year but was beaten by the Pistons in five games in the conference semifinals. The Bulls were 47-35 the next season and again were eliminated by Detroit, this time in six games in the conference finals.
Collins was fired and replaced by Phil Jackson, whose first team also lost to Detroit in the conference finals, 4-3. The following season the Bulls swept the Pistons and went on to the first of six championships in the 90s with Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
Collins worked 2 1/2 seasons with the Pistons starting in 1995, going 46-36, 54-28 and 21-24. He was let go amid reports his style caused friction with some players.
He was 37-45 in both seasons in Washington but couldn't get the Wizards into the playoffs. He was fired shortly after Jordan was denied a return to the front office.
Collins' overall record is 332-287 and 15-23 in the postseason.