Doug Collins is a footnote in Chicago Bulls’ history, but he’s headed back to organization now.
From 1986-1989, Doug Collins was head coach of the Chicago Bulls with a 137-109 regular season record and a playoff appearance in all three seasons. The high point came in his final season, with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Collins was fired in the summer of 1989, perhaps at the request of Michal Jordan, and Phil Jackson was hired. The rest is history, as the Bulls had two separate three-peats with Jackson as a manager of egos and purveyor of the triangle offense for the first six of 11 eventual rings he would get as a coach.
Collins went on to coach the Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers, with broadcasting stints in the midst of and after that time. He resigned as 76ers’ coach in April of 2013 and most recently worked as an analyst for ESPN, but Collins is now going back to the Bulls in an advisor role.
Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf commented on the hiring.
"Doug will be great in this capacity for our organization. The position of ‘senior adviser’ has proven to work well around the NBA in recent years, and I am confident the same will hold true with the Bulls,” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. “The fact that our relationship goes back more than 30 years certainly helps, but he is especially qualified to assist our leadership in rebuilding the Bulls."
Other than Reinsdorf, it’s a different Bulls’ regime than the one who fired Collins 28 years ago. Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson also played for Collins with the Bulls, so perhaps that informed this move. As K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reminds us, Paxson had interest in hiring Collins for a second stint as Bulls’ head coach nine years ago before Vinny Del Negro was hired.
The Bulls have an 83-81 record and one playoff appearance in two seasons under coach Fred Hoiberg. A move toward a rebuild was made official with the offseason trade of Jimmy Butler, so speculation about Hoiberg’s future is not going away as the team surely struggles to win games this coming season.
Collins probably doesn’t want to coach again, at 66 years old now, or eventually take on a greater role in the Bulls’ organization. The team’s press release points to Collins as an “expert resource for the front office and coaching staff”, which he surely is based on his experience as a player, coach and broadcaster. But things are sure to get awkward if things go downhill, as expected, on the court.