Guard Lou Williams, the 76ers' leading scorer (14.9 points per game), will opt out of the final year of his contract at the end of this season and become an unrestricted free agent, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.

If he were not to opt out, Williams would be due $6.4 million from the Sixers.

Said the source: "He's indicated that he's not going to pick up his option. All indications are that he's going to opt out."

Reached at courtside via phone before the 76ers' game at Indiana on Saturday, general manager Rod Thorn said he had not spoken with his leading scorer about his contract but acknowledged that Williams can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.

"He has not said what he will do, but we will react to that when the time comes," Thorn said.

If Williams ends up as the team's leading scorer, he will become the first player to do so without starting a game since Dell Curry did it for the Charlotte Hornets in the 1993-94 season.

Vogel rises

Pacers coach Frank Vogel will get serious consideration when the ballots are filled out for coach of the year. Quite a quick rise for someone who got his first-ever NBA head-coaching stint Jan. 30 of last year.

Vogel, a Wildwood (N.J.) High graduate, spent two years at Juniata College in Huntington, Pa., before transferring to Kentucky, where he became a video coordinator for then-Wildcats coach Rick Pitino. He followed Pitino to the Boston Celtics to do the same job, then moved to assistant coach under Jim O'Brien when Pitino left. He was an assistant to O'Brien with the Sixers for a season before following him to Indiana. When the Pacers let go of O'Brien last season, Vogel was named interim coach and led the Pacers to a 20-18 record and their first playoff appearance in four seasons.

Now, at 41-22 before Saturday's game against the Sixers, Vogel is overseeing one of the top teams in the league.

"It's been a time of almost disbelief. You just kind of look around and, it's cliche, but you just kind of pinch yourself," Vogel said. "You look around and you can't believe we're doing this well. I knew we could, but the fact that we're doing it is very, very exciting. It's only exciting to the extent of the belief of what we can do, what we're on the verge of doing. That's the most exciting part. We're excited about where we're at and it's certainly surreal."

He has a fan in Sixers coach Doug Collins.

"I think what you're seeing is guys who aren't afraid to do the lowest of duties to get their chance to get their foot in the door," Collins said. "Look at [Lakers coach] Mike Brown. I think he started as a video guy and now he's one of the top coaches in the league."