"I get a chance to see my children now and my grandchildren. I've probably given up the competitive side of myself, but it's such a tough ride and tough grind unless you have the [clout] of someone like Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich or Jerry Sloan."
It was initially assumed that the Suns would have the best chance of luring Collins out of the TV booth, given that he lives in the Phoenix area and since Suns president Steve Kerr is a former TNT colleague. But Collins is an Illinois native who starred at Illinois State, which conceivably made the Bulls' job even more attractive.
Earlier this season, Collins turned down an offer from the Milwaukee Bucks, who also tried in the summer of 2005 to hire him as coach.
The Bulls are coming off a disastrous 33-49 season after many experts had pegged them as a preseason favorite in the Eastern Conference. Scott Skiles was fired on Christmas Eve and interim coach Jim Boylan was dismissed shortly after the season ended.
D'Antoni was the Bulls' top choice to replace Boylan, but Paxson has conducted numerous interviews in the last six weeks. Candidates he is known to have interviewed include ESPN/ABC analyst Mark Jackson, Los Angeles Lakers assistant coaches Brian Shaw and Kurt Rambis, Utah Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin, Sacramento Kings assistant Chuck Person, Jazz special assistant Jeff Hornacek and former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Dwane Casey, who has a standing offer to join Rick Carlisle's new staff in Dallas if he doesn't land a head coaching job.
Information from ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein was used in this report.