Collins, Reinsdorf agree coaching search continues ... minus Collins

CHICAGO -- Doug Collins and the Chicago Bulls won't be reuniting.

Concerned that a second tenure as Bulls coach would spoil their friendship, Collins told chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to look elsewhere during a phone conversation on Friday.

"I called Jerry this afternoon and said, 'Let's move forward and make sure we stay the friends that we have been for 25 years,'" said Collins, who coached Chicago from 1986-89. "It had to be a home run, and both of us had a little angst over it. So we both agreed it wasn't the best to keep going this way."

The Chicago Tribune initially reported Collins was out of the running on its Web site Friday afternoon.

"I didn't know Red Auerbach real well," Reinsdorf said. "But Doug is the brightest basketball mind that I knew. He's brilliant. The man is brilliant."

But he won't be back on the Bulls' sideline.

Reinsdorf acknowledged concerns about bringing back his friend but said the decision to break off talks was more Collins' than his.

"My mother always used to tell me don't be in business with friends and relatives," Reinsdorf said. "We've become so close over the years, I really wasn't sure it was good idea for him. But I was pretty much willing to go along with it, but I just wanted to be sure if this is what he really wanted to do. And so I just said, `Take some time let's think about it."

Collins has a 332-287 overall record and was 137-109 with the Bulls when a young Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen couldn't get past the Detroit Pistons.

Collins had initially indicated he was not interested in returning to the sideline. That changed after the Bulls won the draft lottery, although Reinsdorf said Collins threw his name into the mix because he thought the search "really didn't look that promising."

"So, he called and said I'll coach the team," Reinsdorf said. "So we met and we talked about it."

The sides acknowledged last week having discussions and said there would be more talks once Collins' broadcast duties with TNT ended. That happened when the Los Angeles Lakers eliminated the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals.

While Reinsdorf and Collins mulled a reunion, Paxson brought in Sacramento assistant Chuck Person and former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey for second interviews. Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin and Rockets assistant Elston Turner are in the running, according to the Tribune, which also reported along with the Chicago Sun-Times that Phoenix Suns assistant general manager Vinny Del Negro was in town to interview. Casey is the only one with head coaching experience.

After reaching the second round of the playoffs last year, Chicago expected to contend for the Eastern Conference championship. Instead, the Bulls went from 49 wins to 49 losses.

Coach Scott Skiles got fired in December, and the Bulls let interim coach Jim Boylan go at the end of the season.

Chicago was prepared to make Mike D'Antoni an offer last month, only to see him take the New York Knicks job before hearing the Bulls' pitch. Now, another high-profile candidate is out of the running. And a search that just passed the seven-week mark continues.

"We weren't in any rush," Reinsdorf said. "It's important we make the right decision. It hasn't been that long."