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Collins Returning to Hicag?

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That's the word on the street.

As reported by Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Doug Collins will become the next Bulls head coach, according to multiple league sources.

A deal is expected to be announced "sooner rather than later," likely after the Western Conference finals series Collins is working for TNT concludes. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the series over the San Antonio Spurs, 3-2, and it could end tonight.

Collins released this statement through TNT: "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. There is no agreement in place."

Those Western Conference Finals did end last night, and it appears that the Bulls are all but set to bring Collins back for his second go-around in the red and white.

The mystery is why.

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In Collins' previous Chicago stint, he gained a reputation (as elucidated in both Sam Smith's The Jordan Rules and Michael Leahy's When Nothing Else Matters) for pandering to a particular star who constantly took pains to undermine his authority anyway.  In Chicago, Detroit and Washington, he was known for his willingness to throw his players under the bus in tough times and for being overly sensitive about his work.

Leahy's book sends the startlingly clear message that Collins was hired in Washington because His Airness needed someone he could control.  He lost the respect of his players there and hadn't been heard from in the coaching realm since.

It's been a few years, and I don't know what Collins' reputation is with players around the league, but it's hard to imagine that it is all too good right now, particularly in Chicago, where he is nothing more than 'the guy who couldn't get it done with Michael before Phil did."

Collins has grown greatly on me as a color commentator over the past season or two -- though he still has his moments in the wrong direction -- but I wonder whether or not Chi-town is really the place to try to restart his coaching career.