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Sources: 76ers to fire Billy King

Nets GM Ed Stefanski is expected to be named as his replacement. Coach Maurice Cheeks' job is safe, for now.

The 76ers are expected to fire Billy King as team president today and replace him with New Jersey Nets general manager Ed Stefanski, two league sources said last night. The team would give Stefanski a multiyear contract to become the franchise's chief decision-maker on basketball matters, a source said.

The decision to remove King apparently was made in the last few days as the 76ers continued to struggle this season. It is not known whether the decision had been made before last night's home loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Stefanski will report to Comcast president and chief operating officer Peter Luukko.

King did not return telephone calls last night.

A source indicated that head coach Maurice Cheeks would retain his job for the rest of the season. It is not known whether Larry Brown, a consultant to the team and a close confidant of King's, would remain with the team in any capacity under Stefanski.

A Philadelphia native, Stefanski played high school basketball in Drexel Hill at Monsignor Bonner (where he later was head coach for four years). He also played three seasons at Penn, where he graduated in 1976 from the Wharton Business School. He was a television analyst for ESPN before joining the Nets in 1999. Stefanski was named the Nets' GM in 2004.

Stefanski was directly involved in the team's getting forward Vince Carter from Toronto, and assisted team president Rod Thorn in acquiring forward Richard Jefferson and drafting center Nenad Krstic.

King, 41, has been with the 76ers since 1997 and has been team president for the last five years, overseeing both the basketball and business sides of the franchise. He has been under consistent criticism for the last few seasons, as the team has declined from its NBA Finals berth in 2001.

He tried several moves in an effort to turn around the fortunes of the team, from trading for Chris Webber to making several coaching changes (Randy Ayers, Jim O'Brien and Cheeks) after Brown left to coach the Detroit Pistons in 2003. But nothing worked, including giving big contracts to players like Kenny Thomas (since traded to Sacramento) and current starting center Samuel Dalembert.