Chicago native Collins' time to shine coming soon

Chicago native Collins' time to shine coming soon

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
4:37 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam

CHARLOTTE, N.C.Heres the story of a point guard, anointed a star and future pro since his grammar-school days. A college star and key participant in the 2008 NCAA national championship game. Raised in the Windy City and playing in Wednesdays Bulls-Bobcats game under the watchful eye.

Well, maybe not playing. Actual minutes on the court are luxury these days. Obviously this point guard isnt Derrick Rose.

My time hasnt come yet. Its coming, he told Im working. Im a young fella, so I understand that.

Just going through the ropes.

Sherron Collins came out of Chicagos Crane Techin the shadows of the United Center on the citys West Sidewith similar accolades to Rose. A McDonalds All-American the year before Rose (he was also a star football and baseball player), Collins was coveted by all the major colleges for his combination of Chi-Town toughness, shifty ball-handling ability and winning mentality.

Oh yeah, were close. We played against each other in high school a lot. I just saw Rose. We were out here, talking to each other for a little bit, Collins told following Charlottes Wednesday morning shoot-around at Time Warner Cable Arena. I think, for me and him, its more were glad that we both are here. Im glad that he made it, Im glad that hes doing the things hes doing and I think its the same way with him. Just to see kids that come from rough neighborhoods, having nothing and able to get out, go to college and able to do what you love and get paid for it.

Hes one of the premier stars in the league now. Im chasing what hes doing. Im trying to get that same work ethic, Im asking him questions now and Im the older dude. Thats just how the league works, he continued. But remember, Ive got one up on him: I beat him in the national championship at Kansas!

While Collins didnt make a huge immediate splash at Kansas, his sophomore-year performance as an explosive sixth man was an integral part of the Jayhawks aforementioned national-championship season, in which they beat Roses Memphis squad in an overtime thriller. For the next two seasons, the stocky floor general was Kansas star and go-to scorer, again receiving season-culminating All-American nods for leading one of the nations elite teams.

At the conclusion of his senior season last spring, however, Collins received the wrong kind of notoriety. Scouts focused on his heavyset frame and as several draft projections predicted, he wasnt selected in the 2010 NBA Draft, despite his illustrious college career.

You know, thats just the world. Thats how it goes. Somebodys high on you, the next persons low. I just try not to let that get to me, said Collins. This summer, I had a pretty good summer. I was in Vegas for the NBAs summer league, I dropped the weight. I had a great summer, then the first workout, I pulled my groin and it went downhill from there. Its kind of hard to keep working out, keep your weight down and stay in shape when youve got a pulled groin.

That was the thing that hurt me and thats just how it works. One day, youre healthy. The next day, youre hurt. Im just making the best out of this opportunity.

Still, Collins was signed by the Bobcats, now owned by his idol, Bulls legend Michael Jordan. For a kid who went to school walking distance from where Jordans statue resides, it was an opportunity of a lifetime.

I snuck into the United Center just to watch games. He probably doesnt even know the storieswhat we did to watch those gamesand its like a dream come true, to have this in one organization, said Collins. We learn a lot from him, too. Hes always talking to me on the bench. In practice, hes always telling me this or that, so its a great learning experience.

Despite his scant playing time as a rookie and the Bobcats disappointing record after the franchises first-ever playoff appearance a year agoleading to a mid-season coaching change that saw Larry Brown get replaced by Paul SilasCollins is optimistic about his initial NBA season thus far.

Its been a great experience, learning a lot from two experienced coaches, two different styles of playing, so I kind of get a bit of both. Its kind of the best of both worlds if you think about it like that. Coach Silas has a real confident coaching stylehell give you as much confidence as you needkind of give you the free will to go play. Its been a great experience. My thing is to continue working, keep grinding hard, explained Collins. We played the same way at Kansas. We liked to get out and run. Thats our whole mentality here. Get out and run, get easy baskets. Coach Brown, he just was a more, run your sets type of guywhich wasnt anything wrong with thathe was more of a work and grind out a good shot rather than taking the quick shot. Sometimes the quick shot is the best shot youre going to get that possession. Thats just right up my alley. Get it, go, go make a play, let you do what you do, exciting.

Ive got great vets. Jack Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace, even D.J. Augustin, theyre always talking to me, keeping me positive. Theyre the best thing for me right now, he continued. We have the greatest job in the world. Thats what the vets explain to me every day. You should never wake up on the wrong side of the bed. You always should be blessed for waking up and thats the type of attitude I try to approach it with.

Aggrey Sam is's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

It sure sounds like Jimmy Butler regrets being labeled as the face of the Bulls franchise

It sure sounds like Jimmy Butler regrets being labeled as the face of the Bulls franchise

Jimmy Butler didn't come close to following in his trainer's footsteps, but Mr. G. Buckets Unplugged still proved enlightening.

Following a wild Thursday, Butler hopped on the phone Friday afternoon from Paris to chat with Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times about the deal that sent the former face of the Bulls to rejoin Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota.

Butler wanted to be labeled as the face of the franchise, but his comments seem to reflect the old adage "be careful what you wish for."

"It doesn't mean a damn thing. I guess being called the face of an organization isn't as good as I thought. We all see where being the so-called face of the Chicago Bulls got me. So let me be just a player for the Timberwolves, man. That's all I want to do. I just want to be winning games, do what I can for my respective organization and let them realize what I'm trying to do.

"Whatever they want to call me... face... I don't even want to get into that anymore. Whose team is it? All that means nothing. You know what I've learned? Face of the team, eventually, you're going to see the back of his head as he's leaving town, so no thanks."


Butler also spoke about trying to block out all the trade rumors while on vacation in France:

"I mean, I had so many people telling me what could possibly happen, but I just got to the point where I stopped paying attention to it. 

"It's crazy because it reminds you of what a business this is. You can't get mad at anybody. I'm not mad - I'm not. I just don't like the way some things were handled, but it's OK."

Butler doesn't have to be the sole face of the franchise in Minnesota on a team that has two of the top homegrown young stars in the game in Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

The big red button was pressed and Jimmy Butler was ejected from the Chicago Bulls’ present and future as they finally made the decision to rebuild after two years of resisting.

Trading Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the ability to draft Lauri Markkanen represents the Bulls committing to the draft lottery and fully going in on the Fred Hoiberg experience for the foreseeable future, as the prospect of trying to improve through shrewd moves in the East while also facing the likelihood of Butler commanding a $200 million contract wasn’t palatable to their pocketbook or their sensibilities.

On one hand, making a decision — any decision — can be applauded on some levels after years of their relationship with Butler being complicated at best. But the idea of rebuilding and the application of it are often two separate ideals, because the evaluation of a rebuild can often be as murky as the land the Bulls just left.

“What we’ve done tonight is set a direction,” Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson said. “We’ve gone to the past where we make the playoffs, but not at the level we wanted to. You know in this league, success is not determined that way. We’ve decided to make the change and rebuild this roster.”

“We’re gonna remain patient and disciplined. The development of our young players is important. The coaching staff has done a phenomenal job. We’re gonna continue down that path. We’re not gonna throw huge money at people.”

The Bulls aren’t exclusive to this territory, the land in which they’ve inhibited for the last couple seasons, which makes the Butler trade about more than one thing.

Not equal parts but part basketball, part fiscal, part narrative and finally, masking some mistakes that have been made over the years but are not as easily rectified. Trading Butler seemed to be the easiest vessel used as an elixir to wash away missteps. Trading a star in Butler is also the easiest way to get heat off a coach or front office in today’s NBA, because few franchises like to make wholesale changes midstream or early in it.

Trading Butler — along with shipping their second-round pick in a box marked for the Bay Area — was also financial, considering many felt if he made it through the tumultuous evening that he would finish his career as a Bull, raking in a hefty sum of cash on the back end.

It’s because of these factors that the evaluation of this trade and subsequently, a painful rebuild, cannot be in a vacuum. (Note: No rebuild is painless, it’s the size of the migraine a team can endure that determines the type of aspirin necessary).

Just taking a look at the players the Bulls got back in the Butler trade illustrates the gray area they’ve now immersed themselves into. The Bulls fell in love with Dunn before he came to the NBA, and aren’t as bothered by him being a 23-year old second-year player who struggled mightily in his rookie year.

Zach LaVine is an explosive athlete who can put up 20 every night — when he’s on the floor. Recovering from an ACL injury is no given, as evidenced by a young phenom who once graced the United Center hardwood before his body betrayed him.

And Lauri Markkanen is a rookie with promise, but nobody can make any promises on what type of career he’ll have, or if he’ll fulfill that promise with this franchise in the requisite time.

“There’s always risk in anything,” Paxson said. “But here’s a guy that’s 22 years old and averages 20 a game (LaVine). He can score the basketball, he can run. He can shoot the basketball. He shot over 40 percent from three. That’s an area we’re deficient in. Markkanen shot over 40 from three in college. Again, it’s an area where we’re deficient. It’s trying to find the type of player that fits the way that we want to play going forward.”

[RELATED: Jimmy Butler bids emotional farewell to Chicago]

General Manager Gar Forman stated after the announcement of the trade that the Bulls would have to hit on their next few draft picks to stop this rebuild from being elongated, but even then there’s no guarantee.

The Sacramento Kings drafted a rookie of the year, then two future max contract players in the same year, followed by another player who’ll command close to max money very soon. But nobody remembers Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside and Isaiah Thomas leading the Kings from the wilderness and into glory, unless recent memory has been scrubbed away from everyone.

Inconsistencies in organizational structure combined with multiple coaching changes and an inability to develop the right young players kept the Kings on the dais of the draft lottery every April.

The Timberwolves, heck, nobody could say they missed when selecting LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns and getting Andrew Wiggins in a trade for Kevin Love. It’s because it takes more than the right draft picks, or in the Sacramento Kings’ case, the right infrastructure and environment, to foster an atmosphere of winning.

The Bulls were ready, despite their claims that this was a decision that came across their table right before the draft, because common sense has to be applied. No team makes knee-jerk, franchise-altering decisions that will have reverberations for years to come on the whim of a trade offer from Tom Thibodeau. This was likely decided when the Bulls went out with a whimper in the first-round after shocking the NBA world in the first two games against the Boston Celtics, when their fortunes changed on the trifle of Rajon Rondo’s broken wrist.

It was decided that Hoiberg, the man who endured chants calling for his firing in the second half of the decisive Game 6 loss, needed to have the right type of roster to be accurately judged as a successful hire or failure, and Butler couldn’t be part of those plans.

And just as Hoiberg has been dealt an uneven hand, Butler wasn’t given the type of roster that would accurately judge how he could flourish as a leader, max player and face of the franchise — and probably had less time to show one way or the other relative to his coach.

The longer Butler stayed, the more empowered he would become as his individual accomplishments would rack up because of the dedication he applied to game, the drive he had to place himself in the upper echelon of NBA players.

The better Butler got, the more pressure Hoiberg would be under to mix and match his roster and to foster a relationship with Butler he might’ve been ill-suited to fix. The better Butler got, the more pressure the front office would be under to maximize a prime it didn’t see coming, a prime they can’t truly figure when there’s an expiration date on given Butler’s unlikely rise to stardom.

So getting rid of Butler was the solution and the Bulls have now chosen their path, definitively and with confidence. Emerging from a ball of confusion to parts unknown, from one land of uncertainty to another.