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Harris wants Collins coaching the Sixers

CHICAGO – Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris endorsed the return of Sixers coach Doug Collins for next season on Friday.

During a 12-minute conference call Saturday night, Harris said he expected Collins to return as the team's coach for the 2012-13 season.

"I think Doug appreciates the situation he has here and he likes being a part of the team," Harris said. "And I think he and I have a great relationship at least from my point of view and I think he feels that way as well.

" He knows that he has my total support," Harris continued, "So I'm hopeful – there is no reason that I know of why Doug won't be returning next year – that would be a real surprise to me. And that would be a disappointment to me because I really want Doug back."

Last season, Collins' first as head coach, concluded with the Sixers reaching the playoffs with a 41-41 record after a 3-13 start. The Sixers were eliminated in the first round (4-1) of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Miami Heat.

This season the Sixers jumped out to a 20-9 record and held onto first place in the Atlantic Division. They appeared as if they might win the division - something they last did during the 2000-01 season – but they proceeded to drop 21 of their next 32 games. The Sixers salvaged their season, however, by winning four of their last five games.

Harris was very concerned at one point that the Sixers might fall out of the playoffs altogether.

"It was not out of the question had the team not pulled together that we wouldn't have made the playoffs," Harris said. "But the team pulled together and now we are focusing on what we can do moving forward. We are not focusing on not winning the Atlantic Division. We're focusing on this Chicago team, winning this series and winning this game tomorrow. I think we can do it."

Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at Follow him on Twitter @JmitchInquirer