Doug Collins, who will come to town later this month to settle in as the 76ers' coach, has been working the phones and the text-message system to make initial contact with as many of his players as possible.
"I've reached out to six, seven guys and left messages," said Collins, who has already met with Andre Iguodala. "Every one I called got back to me within minutes. I just want them to know there's some hope in the air, and what came back to me was a sense that they're ready for some change."
The Sixers won 41 games and reached the playoffs in 2008-09 under Maurice Cheeks and Tony DiLeo, but slid to 27-55 in their only season under Eddie Jordan.
"One thing I want them to know is, the Atlantic Division is very fluid right now," Collins said. "I know New York and New Jersey have a lot of money to spend, but who knows which players they can sign? There's an opportunity here for us to move up."
In three previous coaching stops, Collins has improved his teams by at least 10 victories in his first season. Chicago went from 30-52 in 1985-86 under Stan Albeck to 40-42 in '86-87. Detroit went from 28-54 in '94-95 under Don Chaney to 46-36 in '95-96, and Washington climbed from 19-63 in 2000-01 under Leonard Hamilton to 37-45 in '01-02.
Collins, focused initially on establishing relationships, has scheduled June 21-24 for workouts with several of the Sixers.
- Phil Jasner