Jarron Collins might brace himself tonight when he visits EnergySolutions Arena for the first time as a visitor.
A former teammate is contemplating a hearty homecoming welcome for the ex-Jazz center, who is now with the Portland Trail Blazers. Not to spoil the surprise, but the greeting might fall somewhere between a warm embrace and a finable offense.
"I might have to foul him real hard," Deron Williams said with a smile at practice Wednesday.
Though Collins can give Portland the inside scoop on the Jazz, his Utah buddies know how he ticks, too.
"You gotta be on the lookout for flops," Williams said. "Charges are going to be taken."
Even if Williams jokes about Collins' 8-foot shooting range, the point guard certainly respects the Stanford product who is battling former College of Eastern Utah forward Ime Udoka for Portland's final roster spot.
"He's a great guy. We'd love to have him back, it just didn't work out," Williams said. "He's great teammate. He always worked hard, didn't say much. I know coach liked him."
Jerry Sloan called it "a business decision" on Utah's part to not re-sign the 6-11, 249-pounder, but he lauded the 2001 second-round pick for sticking around despite not being as physically gifted as some. The coach admires how Collins made NBA hay for eight years in Utah as a lunch-pail-type journeyman.
In fact, Sloan believes Collins, who has career averages of 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, is proof that so-called talent can be "overrated."
"A lot of guys had talent. Jarron knew how to play basketball," Sloan said. "He started for us and played some big minutes for us because he knew what was going on in the game. He understood the mechanics of what we were trying to do. He did a great job for us."