The 76ers have chosen not to extend the fifth year of Thaddeus Young's rookie contract, allowing Young to become a restricted free agent.

The deadline for an extension passed at 5 p.m. yesterday.

That doesn't mean the Sixers aren't interested in retaining Young, the No. 12 overall pick in the NBA's 2007 draft; they hold a right of first refusal on any offer to the forward from another team in the league.

"We've had conversations with Rod [Sixers president Rod Thorn], and that's where I'll leave it," said Jim Tanner, Young's agent.

Young is listed at slightly more than $2.9 million on the Sixers' salary cap. To retain his rights, the Sixers must make a qualifying offer of 125 percent of that salary before July 1, 2011.

Sources have indicated that Tanner, interested in a new contract for his client, has mentioned a deal worth more than $10 million.

Goodbye to 'The Enforcer'

Sixers coach Doug Collins was saddened at the news of the death of Maurice Lucas, the one-time Portland Trail Blazers power forward known as the "The Enforcer." Lucas, 58, died Sunday of bladder cancer.

He was a major force in helping the Trail Blazers defeat the Sixers in the 1976-77 NBA Finals. He is remembered among longtime Sixers fans for a fight with Sixers center Darryl Dawkins that never really materialized.

"Darryl swung at [the Blazers'] Bobby Gross and hit me," Collins recalled. "I was the unintentional recipient. But later on, when Darryl and Luke squared off, it looked like something out of the 1920s, like John L. Sullivan bare-knuckling at halfcourt.

"One other thing I remember is, we used to have a competition called 'Superstars,' with something like 10 events, and Luke set a record in, of all things, swimming. To see this big, strong, 6-10 power forward swimming that way was a sight to behold."

On a more serious note, Collins said, "I think Luke was the epitome of the tough power forward. He made Portland tougher, and he was skilled and talented. Off the court, he was as good a guy as you'd ever want to meet in your life."

Lucas, a five-time All-Star, had his number retired both by the Blazers and by Marquette, his college team.

In a statement, Blazers coach Nate McMillan said, "We've lost a champion of a man . . . He battled his illness like the warrior he was on the basketball court." *