As with all good things, Maurice Cheeks had to wait for his contract extension.
He had to wait for 76ers general manager Ed Stefanski to wheel and deal in the bustling free-agent market, first landing two-time all-star power forward Elton Brand, then filling in the gaps with Kareem Rush, Royal Ivey, Theo Ratliff and Donyell Marshall.
Stefanski also locked up two of his own, promising youngsters Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala, both integral pieces in last season's surprising playoff run.
Finally, when the smoke cleared and what remained looked like a darn good - maybe championship-level - Sixers squad, Stefanski made sure he kept his conductor: Cheeks.
Yesterday, the Sixers announced a contract extension for Cheeks, agreed to in principle but not yet signed.
Details were not released, but it is believed that the extension will keep Cheeks on the Sixers' sideline through 2010.
"Over the course of my time here, Coach Cheeks and I have developed an excellent working relationship, one which I look forward to continuing with him as we move forward in an effort to achieve our collective goals," Stefanski said.
The extension is Cheeks' second in seven months. He signed a one-year extension Feb. 20.
Cheeks, 52, said he was fine with his deal "taking a backseat" to Stefanski's efforts with players.
"You couldn't help but be excited about everything that was going on," said Cheeks, who first signed a three-year deal with the Sixers in 2005.
Cheeks is 113-133 in three seasons with the Sixers and 275-272 in his seven-year coaching career, which began with the Portland Trail Blazers.
"I think the whole dynamic has changed, from last year to now," Cheeks said. "You think about going into the season last year and what we accomplished and now having a chance at being this very good basketball team."
Although last season ended well - the Sixers made the playoffs for the first time since 2005 - things had looked bleak, especially for Cheeks, midway through the campaign. Before his team won eight of 10 games in February, Cheeks' future with the organization looked as dismal as the team's 18-30 record. The Sixers finished with a 40-42 mark.
"Allen [Iverson] was gone and Chris [Webber] was gone, and we got retooled a little bit . . . and fortunately for myself, I was able to stay there and work through it," Cheeks said. ". . . I had to have a little luck on my side."
Cheeks said that even before Stefanski retooled the roster, he wanted to remain in Philadelphia. He tasted success here in 11 seasons as a player, winning the NBA title in 1983, and Cheeks said he wants the same success as a coach.
The deal comes three weeks before the Sixers open camp Sept. 30 at Penn State.
Year W L
'01-02* Portland 49 33
'02-03* Portland 50 32
'03-04 Portland 41 41
'04-05 Portland 22 33
'05-06 76ERS 38 44
'06-07 76ERS 35 47
'07-08* 76ERS 40 42
Totals 275 272
76ers totals 113 133