LOS ANGELES — It's almost a shame Jerry Sloan wasn't at Staples Center on Sunday night.
The Hall of Fame coach missed an opportunity to catch up with one of his favorite players from the past.
No, not former Laker Karl Malone.
More like Jarron Collins.
The former Jazz center, who played with Utah from 2001-09, was on assignment Sunday with his new employer, the Los Angeles Clippers, and took time out to visit with his old team before Utah and Los Angeles took to the court.
"It's always good to see all the fellas from Utah," Collins said.
All the fellas might be a stretch.
A lot has changed in the three-plus seasons since Collins last played in a Utah uniform. Paul Millsap is the only player remaining from that 2008-09 squad, and Tyrone Corbin has replaced Sloan as head coach.
"I was here (in 2004) when Coach Corbin joined the staff. I'm really happy for him that he's the head coach. I know how hard he's worked," Collins said, adding that the more things change the more they stay the same. "They still have that same feisty, competitive personality of a Utah Jazz team."
Collins was also excited to see trainers Gary Briggs and Brian Zettler and strength coach Mark McKown. He joked with Al Jefferson and Millsap in the hall outside the locker room when they passed by.
Collins pointed out that Mo Williams was with the Jazz his rookie season early in his career, following that observation with an "I'm old" quip. He also noted that ex-teammate Matt Harpring was another of the few familiar faces with the Jazz he ran into — in the media dining room, no less.
"It's so funny," Collins said. "I see my old cohorts in the press room now."
Now that his playing days are over — Collins was briefly with Portland in 2011 — the Southern California native has returned to his old stomping grounds. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Elsa, and their children — two girls (Alessandra, 4, and Valentina, 2) and baby boy (Massimo, 4 months).
"I'm doing well," the 34-year-old said. "I'm very, very fortunate."
The 6-11 Collins has been hired by the Clippers, whom he also briefly played for, to do pro personnel scouting and some broadcasting. That new position, he joked, was announced on ESPN.
"They probably aired it at 3 a.m.," he said, smiling.
As part of Collins' job, he attends Laker home games to scout a variety of NBA teams. He also goes to college practices and recently provided commentary for a L.A. D-Fenders D-League game. The well-spoken Stanford product misses playing basketball, but this is a good alternative for the Jazz's 2001 second-round pick.
"I'm just happy that I'm able to stay involved in the sport that I love," Collins said. With a smile, he added, "And then I live vicariously through my brother (Jason), who's still playing for the Celtics."
PREGAME DELAY: Staples Center had a doubleheader Sunday, with the Clippers and Raptors playing an afternoon game before the Jazz and Lakers tipped off a couple hours after they finished.
Next time, arena organizers might want to schedule the nightcap game a bit later.
Jazz players who arrived on the first of two buses could not do their usual pregame drills because crews were changing courts between games.
"They weren't able to get on the floor. They were still waiting when we got here," Corbin said, referring to the second bus that usually has the veterans. "The floor wasn't ready."
THAT EXPLAINS IT: Jazz guard Raja Bell's name recently came up in rumors that he might be traded to the Lakers because of his relationship with new L.A. coach Mike D'Antoni, who coached him in Phoenix.
Bell is being paid by the Jazz ($3.5 million), but he hasn't been with the team all season. Corbin veered from the organization's "no comment" policy when it comes to the estranged player.
Asked by an L.A. reporter why Bell wasn't the team, Corbin responded: "He's not with the team."
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