Ex-Wizard coach dishes on NBA details and deals
Doug Collins, whose two-year reign as coach of the Washington Wizards ended May 31, says if he had another head coaching offer, he probably would turn it down.
'You are going to laugh at me, but if I were to do it again, I would want to come back as an assistant coach with a young head coach I thought I could help,' says Collins, who will turn 52 on Monday.
More likely, though, is that the engaging, thoughtful and articulate Collins will return to broadcasting. He has interviewed with ABC and soon will meet with TNT. By the end of the month, he probably will have an analyst job with one or the other.
Here are Collins' views on some current issues in the NBA.
On Kobe Bryant: 'I am devastated. I played with his father (Joe) in Philadelphia. My daughter, Kelly, and Kobe were born in the same year, and I have watched him grow from a little boy to a man. It breaks my heart what happened. When I saw the first report on the news, it was like somebody had knocked the air out of me. I have always had the ultimate respect for him, always felt he was going to be a champion even before the Lakers won. I am hoping and praying when it is all settled, Kobe will be found innocent.'
On the Lakers' new lineup: 'Phil Jackson is great at putting all the pieces together. Karl Malone and Gary Payton will fit in well. Karl can pass the ball, and he has become more of a jump shooter late in his career. His spot in the triangle offense Ñ the pinch post, at the foul line extended ÑÊis similar to where he played a lot in Utah. Gary is such a good defensive player and still a good floor leader. I expect them to do everything necessary to help the Lakers win, but you can't just hand them the trophy now. The West is so strong, and there are still some formidable teams out there. The Lakers learned this year how important the regular season can be, that seeding is important in the playoffs.'
On LeBron James: 'The thing that jumps out more than anything is his physical maturity. At the ESPYs, when he was up there standing next to Julius Erving, he was bigger than Julius. He just has a presence about him for such a young kid. The best part of his game is his passing. He has very good court sense, is very unselfish. He is going to have to do some construction on his shot, but he is going to give (the Cleveland Cavaliers) a feeling of confidence. It will be important for them to win a few games early so they can start to think they can win a little bit. He is going to be scrutinized. The fun part will be to see if he can maintain that freshness.'
On Scottie Pippen signing with Chicago: 'John Paxson was looking for somebody to go there and play a leadership role, to teach them what the NBA is all about. He knows Scottie is not the same player as when he was younger. But Scottie will help Jalen Rose, Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry by being there, because for the Bulls to get better, they have to be better internally.'
On new Portland GM John Nash: 'I have known John for many years. A very good basketball guy. He will be good. Bob Whitsitt was a Rotisserie League GM. It was, 'I am going to get the 12 or 15 best guys I can. Here, Maurice (Cheeks), put them together.' How is it possible to have a semblance of cohesion under those circumstances? John understands the right way to put together a team. With the Blazers, he has to add by subtracting. He has to get rid of some players, because the Portland fans are the greatest in the world, but they are getting tired of all the off-the-court stuff.'
Notes: Flip Saunders is taking on a major challenge in Minnesota with the acquisition of underachieving center Michael Olowokandi, talented but flaky guard Sam Cassell, and headache-inducer Latrell Sprewell. Still, the Timberwolves have made a serious upgrade in talent, especially if Saunders can get Olowokandi, a former No. 1 draft pick, to come close to fulfilling his potential. A starting five of Olowokandi, Sprewell, Kevin Garnett, Wally Szczerbiak and either Cassell or Troy Hudson matches up pretty well with other units in the West. É Glenn Robinson (Philadelphia) and Keith Van Horn (New York) will be playing for their third teams in three seasons. Atlanta was merely dumping salary by acquiring the rights to Terrell Brandon, who will retire due to a career-ending knee injury. A nice little present for the Hawks' new coach, whenever they get around to naming one.
Dan Panaggio has been impressed with the play of Ime Udoka, the former Portland State standout who averaged 13.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists as starting shooting guard in Portland's first three games in the Rocky Mountain Revue Summer League at Salt Lake City. 'I like his toughness, his approach to the game, how he always keeps winning first,' says Panaggio, the assistant coach who is running the Blazer summer league team. 'I give him a chance to stick with an NBA team. I know this Ñ he has a career in professional basketball. He just needs an opportunity.' É Rookie forward Travis Outlaw played only 24 minutes in the first three games, totaling nine points, four rebounds and four turnovers. 'I didn't want to overwhelm him right off the bat,' Panaggio says. É Nedzad Sinanovic, the 7-2 Bosnian who was Portland's second-round draft pick, did not play in the first three games. 'He is about three years away,' Panaggio says of Sinanovic, 20, who will play professionally in Belgium next season. 'But he has only played basketball for four months. He can block a shot, and he has a decent shooting touch.'