Bach returns to Bulls' bench as assistant

As they continue free-agent discussions to bring back Scottie Pippen, the Chicago Bulls have negotiated the return of another familar face from their championship run.

ESPN.com has learned that the Bulls are fortifying the bench staff of coach Bill Cartwright by re-hiring John Bach, who spent eight seasons with the Bulls as an aide to Doug Collins and Phil Jackson.

Bach spent the last two-plus seasons in Washington under Collins and alongside Michael Jordan. He was last with the Bulls in 1992-93, for Chicago's third of six championships in the 1990s and the last season before Jordan's first retirement.

"Coming home is always special," Bach said on Monday. "Chicago has always been close to my heart -- I don't think my heart ever left Chicago."

Bach would make the Bulls' surroundings even more familiar than they already are for Pippen, who is not expected to re-sign with Portland, with the Blazers intent on slashing payroll.

Cartwright is a former Pippen teammate, and another Bulls Dynasty alumnus, John Paxson, succeeded Jerry Krause as Bulls general manager in April. Paxson has made no secret of his desire to bring Pippen back as a free agent, with the Bulls apparently willing to offer the 37-year-old their $4.9 million salary-cap exception. That is more than Pippen is expected to command elsewhere, although many teams -- most notably Dallas -- have strong interest in signing Pippen for his defensive prowess and veteran know-how.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, send Stein a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.