TORONTO - The 76ers confirmed reports that they are talking to Mike D'Antoni about joining the team as the associate head coach.

However, they are publicly saying that reaching out to D'Antoni isn't related to last week's hiring Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operation. The coach has 12 years of NBA head-coaching experience with the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers.

"Having a graybeard, true-veteran-type NBA coach has been discussed for a while as it relates to growing my staff," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "Vance Walberg and Chad Iske left last year. We opted to take our existing staff, which I think is fantastic and I love and has been great to me, and grow them.

Brown added that getting a new coach has been kind of ever-present for a while.

"The timing is disturbing of the leak," he said of the news breaking Friday night, four days after Colangelo was hired. "We have been talking about it for a while."

However, D'Antoni is someone Colangelo trusts to be his eyes and ears since he's more than 2,000 miles away in Phoenix.

The two have a relationship dating back to their days with the Phoenix Suns in the early 2000s. Colangelo is the former Suns owner and was a longtime cornerstone of the franchise. D'Antoni went 253-156 in five seasons as the Suns coach. They also worked together on the USA Basketball staff, where Colangelo serves as the chairman.

"This is a good thing," Brown said of the discussions with D'Antoni. "That name is a good thing. How could that not be a good thing?"

Next up. The Sixers have lost seven straight games to the Bulls, whom they visit Monday night at the United Center. They've also lost their last six games in Chicago. Monday's matchup will be a homecoming for third-year veteran Robert Covington and rookies Jahlil Okafor and Richaun Holmes. All three Sixers grew up in the Chicago area.

- Keith Pompey