THIS IS HOW the past week appears to have played out between 76ers coach Doug Collins and management, according to multiple league sources.
The sources say that Collins, now in his third season as head coach and with 1 more year remaining on his contract, told management he would prefer not to return as coach next season. Owner Josh Harris informed Collins that he very much wants Collins back at the helm next season, but was told that Collins was not prepared to return in that capacity. Both sides, according to the sources, have agreed on the same goal, and that is to reach an amicable solution to the matter.
So it appears that Collins' tenure as head coach will end after the final game of the season on Wednesday at Indiana.
Attempts to reach the Sixers for comment were unsuccessful.
Despite reports, the sources reiterated that at no time did Harris not want Collins as his head coach next season.
Following the Sixers' 91-77 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the team's home finale, Collins' lawyer, John Langel, told a few reporters that his client will indeed be returning next season. The firestorm started when an Inquirer story last Thursday cited sources saying that the Sixers organization privately hoped Collins would not return for the 2013-14 season.
"He's here for another year, at least," Langel said Sunday. "He's the coach and we'll see what happens."
Langel, who negotiated a 1-year extension for Collins on the original 3-year contract before this season started, stated Sunday that he hasn't asked for another extension for Collins because the coach didn't ask him to.
Money appears to be a very large obstacle in how this plays out. Collins is scheduled to make $4.5 million next season - if he is the coach or if he gets fired. Should he resign from his current position, that money is left on the table. Thus, the attempt to reach a middle ground.
This was supposed to be the year where he was rewarded for the fruits of his labor. A huge offseason trade brought in Andrew Bynum, and a series of moves built a roster that appeared to be one that would mesh well with the 7-foot, 300-pounder. But Bynum, beset by knee issues, never played a game and other injuries prevented Collins from finding a cohesive unit, thus the current 33-47 record.
With Bynum coming off double knee surgery, it would certainly be a huge risk for the team to follow through on their original plan - to sign the big center to a long-term contract. Add to that the fact that there are a few expiring contracts and perhaps a trade or two in the future and the current roster may have a completely different look next season. That being said, would Collins, who turns 62 in July, be willing to come back for another year of rebuilding?
Collins also could be pulled away from his current position due to other situations surrounding him. His son, Chris, was recently named head coach at Northwestern University after 13 seasons as an assistant coach at Duke. Collins also has five grandchildren he would like to spend more time with.
When asked about all this before Friday's game in Washington and again before Sunday's game against Cleveland, Collins said he only wanted to talk about the games at hand and that he wouldn't get into anything else.
The Sixers will play Monday in Detroit then finish the season on Wednesday in Indianapolis. Thursday, Harris and Collins will talk with the media.