Former Trail Blazers Bulls great Scottie Pippen, 41, is hoping to return to the NBA, riding the gravy train of a playoff-bound team. Of course, the Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith just soiled his drawers.

Pippen, who turned 41 on Sept. 25, says he’s in better condition and health than at any time in the last five years. And in the Eastern Conference, his veteran presence could change the balance of power and be a major influence in the playoffs. Or he might be the long-sought backup to relieve the pressure on the Suns’ Steve Nash. The possibilities are intriguing.

Pippen will give an indication of where he is physically when he teams with the Bulls’ Ben Gordon and the Chicago Sky’s Candice Dupree in the “Shooting Stars” contest part as part of Saturday night’s All-Star festivities.

“I’m thinking of trying to come back for the playoffs,” Pippen said. “Something like the last two months of the season, somewhere I can come back and play limited minutes to start, play point forward for someone and build toward the playoffs. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the last three months.”

As a Phoenician who watches the Suns quite often, I doubt Pip will head this way. They already signed Jalen Rose, who plays less than Pat Burke.

But here’s the kicker:

Pippen wants to move into coaching and said his ideal situation would be to serve as a player-coach. He believes his experience running Phil Jackson’s Bulls offense and as the leader of good Trail Blazers teams in the late 1990s gives him a step up in coaching.

This no doubt guarantees he will call his own number for the final shot in a playoff game with 1.8 seconds left.