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Collins is in no mood to discuss his future

Amid speculation he will not return to the Sixers next season, coach Doug Collins says his attention is only on finishing the season.

Doug Collins argues a call during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, April 12, 2013, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)
Doug Collins argues a call during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, April 12, 2013, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)Read more

WASHINGTON - Here in the nation's capital, a place where too much talking can get you into a boatload of trouble, 76ers coach Doug Collins decided to plead the Fifth. After a story published Thursday cited NBA sources as saying that Sixers management wouldn't mind if Collins didn't fulfill the final year of his contract, the coach wanted the conversation to end before it started in the hallways of the Verizon Center as his team prepared to face the Washington Wizards.

"Absolutely," Collins responded when asked whether he thought management had his back. "I'm going to talk about the NBA, I'm going to talk about Washington, so let's move forward about the Washington game. Let's move forward to the basketball game. We have four more games to play. I've told you all along, I'm not the topic of conversation. We're going to focus in on the games; we're going to play those. We'll sit down at the end of the season, as we've always done. I have a wonderful relationship with [owner] Josh Harris and we will discuss what we need to do next year."

When prodded again for his thoughts, Collins quickly said: "I told you, let's talk about the basketball game. You drove a long way here for that. There's nothing to put to bed. Guys, you're not going to trick me. Let's go. What do you want to talk about? I want to talk about the basketball game. The focus is not me."

But it is, whether he wants to talk about it or not. By not coming out and saying that he will be back certainly seems to indicate that his 3-year run with the team is coming to an end. Should he coach next season, he would be paid a reported $4.5 million. If he should quit, he wouldn't receive any of that money. Should he get fired, Collins still would get the money.

No matter how it plays out, should Collins not return next season, the team would be calling a different someone head coach for the eighth time in the 11 seasons since Larry Brown left in 2003.

"I try to just take it day by day and see what happens," said forward Thaddeus Young, who has played for four coaches in his six seasons. "You always start to get settled with a coach, and you don't want to see him go, but if it happens, you have to understand it's a business, and when you have down years like this, organizations tend to make changes. That's not just our organization, but that's anybody's organization. Some organizations have had three coaches in 3 years. I think we are thankful just to be able to have a coach like coach Collins. He's been a father figure for each and every one of us. We definitely love his spirit and his energy that he brings to the team.

"Like I say, we don't know what's going to happen. We're just going to play it by ear and I'm always going to be in favor of coach Collins, just for the fact of what he's done for me the past few years and how he's helped me as a person off the court and how he's helped me on the court.

"It's funny, because me and my uncle were talking about it the other day, and he was saying that he thought I should sit down and talk to Doug Collins about what's going to go on with the future of the team and what's going on with the future of me and him as far as the coaching relationship and stuff like that. I told him that I just wanted to get this season over and then we'll sit down and talk about next season. We haven't really discussed that. The focus has been finishing up this season and taking it from there. But, of course, we're going to sit down and talk at the end of the season. We have our exit meetings and stuff like that. It's definitely going to be a lot of discussions on what's going to go on and how things are going to be done the day after the season and going forward. This is an organization that is still trying to build and to grow every day, and we're trying to get back to the playoffs and be like the team we were last year before this season happened."

Which means revamping the roster yet again, perhaps the reason Collins might not be back at the helm.

"I don't get involved in anybody's personal affairs," forward Evan Turner said. "There's a lot more to it that plays into it. You never know [whether Collins would leave] if it's because his son is now coaching at Northwestern or to see his grandkids grow or whatever else is with that. You have to leave it to the person to do what's best for them. In general, I would say that it's been a rough year and nobody wants to move out after a down year.

"In general, sometimes you just have to go down with the ship sometimes."

Game stuff

When John Wall missed 33 games because of injury to begin the season, the Washington Wizards picked up only five wins. In the 47 games with him, they are now 24-23 after the Sixers took a 97-86 decision in a less than meaningless game at the Verizon Center.

Wall finished with 24 points and seven assists, but the Sixers rode a balanced offense in improving their record to 32-47.

Jrue Holiday finished with 22 points to pace the Sixers. Thaddeus Young added 18 points and 13 rebounds, Spencer Hawes and Damien Wilkins scored 15 each, and Dorell Wright came off the bench to add 13. Evan Turner, the second overall pick behind Wall 3 years ago, struggled through an 0-for-11 night from the floor for the Sixers and didn't score.