Brett Brown is the preferred candidate for the 76ers coaching job, according to a league source.

If the job doesn't go to Brown, the search for Doug Collins' replacement will remain competitive, the source said.

Portland Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool; Sixers assistant Michael Curry, a holdover from Collins' staff; and Boston Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga are believed to be the other serious contenders.

The source confirmed that Chicago Bulls assistant coach Adrian Griffin also interviewed for the job.

The Sixers will not comment on the search and are not giving clues to when it will end.

The source said majority owner Josh Harris did not attend any of the initial interviews. But he is expected to interview the finalists before the Sixers make a decision.

This isn't the first time Brown has been mentioned as the leading candidate. About two hours after the June 27 NBA draft, Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie denied a New York Daily News report that the Sixers had decided to hire Brown.

The 52-year-old Brown joined Gregg Popovich's San Antonio staff in July 2002 as an assistant coach and director of player development. He moved to the bench as an assistant before the start of the 2006-07 season.

The Spurs have won three NBA titles during Brown's stay with the team. They just missed out on a fourth, losing in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat in June.

Brown had a hand in the development of NBA all-star point guard Tony Parker, whose scoring average went from 9.2 points to 15.5 points during the first season he worked with Brown.

Seven other NBA assistants - Ed Pinckney (Bulls), Quin Snyder (Atlanta Hawks), Kenny Atkinson (Hawks), David Fizdale (Miami Heat), Melvin Hunt (Denver Nuggets), Chris Finch (Houston Rockets), and Kelvin Sampson (Rockets) - also have been mentioned as candidates.