Doug Collins has always said Philadelphia is a ''special place'' for him. Now we know how special. The former 76ers star, according to an NBA source with knowledge of the situation, has agreed to terms to coach them. An announcement is expected Friday, and a formal introduction is likely to come Monday.

A second NBA source said Collins' contract is for four years.

The source indicated that Brian James, an assistant with Collins in Detroit and Washington, will join the Sixers' staff. There is speculation that current Sixers assistant Aaron McKie, who played for Collins in Detroit, is likely to be elevated.

John Langel, Collins' agent, declined to comment.

Collins, 58, is the Sixers' seventh coach since Larry Brown departed.

Collins, one of the best TV analysts, has been working the NBA's Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns.

He played all eight of his injury-plagued career with the Sixers, joining them as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 draft. He has previously coached the Chicago Bulls, the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Wizards. In each of those situations, in his first season he took the team to at least 10 more more victories than the previous season.

Collins succeeds Eddie Jordan, who was fired after the first leg of a three-year contract.