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Mike D'Antoni joins Sixers as associate head coach, sources say

Veteran NBA coach Mike D'Antoni is now the associate head coach of the 76ers, two league sources said Thursday night.

Veteran NBA coach Mike D'Antoni is now the associate head coach of the 76ers, two league sources said Thursday night.

D'Antoni, 64, was spotted when he arrived at Philadelphia International Airport. He had been in talks with the Sixers to join their coaching staff.

D'Antoni has 12 years of head coaching experience with the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers. He also is someone the new chairman of basketball operations, Jerry Colangelo, trusts to be his eyes and ears when Colangelo is more than 2,000 miles away in Phoenix.

The two have a relationship dating back to their days with the 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 Suns coach. They also worked together on the USA Basketball staff, where Colangelo served as the chairman.

D'Antoni has a 455-426 career record as an NBA head coach.

Sixers coach Brett Brown said last week that he would welcome D'Antoni's addition to the staff because he would add a veteran presence.

At 1-26, the Sixers are not only the worst team in the NBA, they are perhaps the worst team in the history of the league.

"We can't sit here and sugarcoat it and say everybody's happy with the record," guard Isaiah Canaan said. "But we are happy within our team and with our players. We work hard every day.

"Even though our record doesn't show it, we know what we are capable of doing and we are going to stay at it. The wall will eventually break sooner or later."

The Sixers look to snap their eight-game losing streak Friday night against the New York Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Knicks (12-14) defeated the Sixers, 99-87, at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 2. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis led New York with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Sixers rookie Jahlil Okafor missed that loss while serving the first game of a two-game suspension after posted a video of his getting into a fight with a heckler on a Boston street.

Both players are rookie of the year candidates. Okafor leads all rookies in scoring at 17.8 points per game and is third in rebounding (8.1) and blocked shots (1.4).

Porzingis is third in scoring (13.5) and second in rebounding (8.3) and blocked shots (2.0). The 7-foot-3 standout had seven blocks Wednesday in a 107-102 victory over Minnesota at the Garden.

Noel's ready

Nerlens Noel will return to action against the Knicks. The power forward missed the last two games with a corneal abrasion in his left eye.