The 76ers, widening their search for a new coach, are planning an interview with Portland Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

They have not officially scheduled a meeting, in part because they have yet to get permission from the Blazers.

At the same time, they are waiting for ESPN analyst Mark Jackson, already scheduled to meet with the New Orleans Hornets and drawing interest from other teams, to determine whether he wants to follow through on his plan to meet with the Sixers.

The Sixers had planned to interview Jackson, who has never coached, but had not yet finalized a time and place.

The Sixers have already met with former Sixers All-Star guard and current TNT analyst Doug Collins, and with former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson. They are likely to meet with others, but the source said they are in no rush to meet with two of last year's interviewees, Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and Boston Celtics associate coach Tom Thibodeau, because they are already familiar with them. Casey was the runner-up to the since-fired Eddie Jordan.

Williams, 38, played nine seasons in the NBA, completing his career by appearing in 21 games with the Sixers in 2002-03, his availability cut short because of knee surgery.

"These opportunities are pretty cool," he told Portland's Oregonian, "but at the same time I try to approach them as I do coaching; never get too high or never get too low. Because I'm still a Blazer, and I'm preparing myself for whatever ways I can help this organization get better."

Williams interviewed last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who hired Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis. The Blazers have granted him permission to meet with the Hornets.

Williams logged 456 games in his career, spending time with the New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic. He launched his coaching career in 2004-05, serving as an intern with the Spurs; he has been with the Blazers for five seasons.

For more Sixers coverage, read the

Daily News' Sixers blog, Sixerville, at

http://go.philly.com/sixerville.