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76ers set to woo Brown as coach

The 76ers are poised to contact Larry Brown about their coaching vacancy, but they apparently have little interest in offering Brown a front-office position overseeing player personnel decisions, an NBA source with knowledge of the Sixers' thinking said on Tuesday.

The 76ers are poised to contact Larry Brown about their coaching vacancy, but they apparently have little interest in offering Brown a front-office position overseeing player personnel decisions, an NBA source with knowledge of the Sixers' thinking said on Tuesday.

The 69-year-old Brown just finished his second season coaching the Charlotte Bobcats, who were swept by the Orlando Magic in the franchise's first playoff appearance. For weeks, there have been reports that Brown might consider retiring from coaching and returning to suburban Philadelphia to run the Sixers and reunite with his wife, Shelly, and their two teenage children. Brown has repeatedly said that he will never coach for an NBA owner other than Michael Jordan, but he has skirted questions about whether he would consider rebuilding a franchise from an executive chair.

"I'm not coaching for anybody but Michael," Brown said after Monday night's loss. When asked if he'd take an executive job, Brown left himself wiggle room, saying: "That's hypothetical."

Brown said he was going to return to Philadelphia and hunker down with his family. "I'm going to figure it out," he said.

The Sixers are run by president and general manager Ed Stefanski, whose job has not been guaranteed but who is still at the helm of the team's search for a coach.

Brown, who has two seasons left on his contract, could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and the Bobcats took the unusual step of not offering any media availability in Charlotte after Brown met with the players for their postseason exit interviews.

Meanwhile, the Sixers have been put off by the rumors and stories that have popped up about the peripatetic Brown's interest in moving back to Philadelphia, and that appears to have slowed the process of the Sixers contacting Brown to gauge his interest in coaching the team again, the NBA source said.

Brown coached the Sixers from 1997 to 2003, leading the franchise to the 2001 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. After stints in Detroit, where he finally won an NBA title, and New York, Brown served as executive vice president to the Sixers for one year before stepping down after the Sixers fired Billy King and hired Stefanski. He has coached Charlotte for two seasons, although his family has remained on the Main Line. Son L.J. is 15, and daughter Madison just turned 13.

Brown apparently is struggling between wanting to stay in Charlotte and wanting to see his family more frequently than he does now.

Nevertheless, as is often the case with Brown, it has been a hectic 48 hours of conjecture and speculation. On Monday, hours before the Magic eliminated Charlotte, Yahoo! Sports reported that the Bobcats felt the likelihood of Brown's returning to coach Charlotte next season was "minimal at this point" because Brown was angling to return to Philadelphia to run the Sixers.

The report also stated that Brown would hire Atlanta's Mike Woodson, a former Brown assistant in Philadelphia whose contract expires after this season, as coach, and Milt Newton, the Washington Wizards' vice president of player personnel, as general manager. Newton spent two seasons scouting for the Sixers early in Brown's tenure as coach.

After the Bobcats got swept Monday night, Bobcats president and CEO Fred Whitfield said, "That's news to me," when told of the report. "I'll check with [majority owner] Michael [Jordan]."

A Bobcats spokesman said Tuesday that neither Jordan nor Whitfield would be available for comment this week.

One NBA source said he felt Brown offered the most value on the bench, rather than in the front office, and that the aforementioned Yahoo! "Brown game plan" would require the Sixers to hire a GM as well. If they did that, they would be paying five people to do the work of two people for the next two seasons: Brown, a new general manager, a new coach, Eddie Jordan, and Stefanski.

"I think [Shelly] wants him to do what's going to make him happy," the source said of Brown's family conundrum. "I think it's more him having a hard time. L.J.'s in high school, now you have a 15-year-old son you can do things with, and he's not being there for that."

Meanwhile, in Charlotte, the Brown story dominated the headlines in a week where Tiger Woods is in town for his second golf tournament since his sex scandal broke the night after Thanksgiving. Brown got the Bobcats into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

"He's been great for this organization," Bobcats guard Raymond Felton said after the Game 4 playoff loss. "He's been great to me individually as a point guard. But we've got to look at it like it's a family decision. He's got to do what's best for him and his family. If he decides to leave and move on, we have to understand that. Would I love to see him go? No. I would hate to see him leave."

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