The search that led to the hiring of Doug Collins, who will be formally introduced as the new coach of the 76ers today at a news conference in the Wachovia Center, has at least somewhat solidified the status of president/general manager Ed Stefanski.

"He's under contract," said Comcast-Spectacor COO Peter Luukko. "He conducted the search with Tony [DiLeo] and Gene [Shue]. It's his job, and he's doing it right now."

Luukko declined to go beyond that, but the selection of Collins as the successor to the fired Eddie Jordan and the move from No. 6 to No. 2 in the NBA draft seems likely to benefit Stefanski.

Stefanski has 2 years remaining on his contract.

Joe Dumars, who played for Collins in Detroit and is now the Pistons' president of basketball operations, refers to the Sixers' new coach as "very smart. He knows the game and is one of the best at making adjustments."

Dumars also said in an e-mail response: "The Sixers couldn't have hired a better coach."

The price? An NBA source told the Daily News that Collins' contract is for three guaranteed seasons plus a fourth season at the team's option. It is believed that the 3-year guarantee is worth about $10.5 million.

And 2 days after forward Elton Brand said he was "excited" about the hiring of Collins, center Samuel Dalembert said, "I don't know him personally, but he's charismatic. I'm looking forward to playing for him, to getting off to a good start, to having everyone know their roles."

Told that Collins has a reputation as a disciplinarian, something that was lacking during Jordan's one season, Dalembert said: "It [can't be] just talk. We can't point fingers. We all have to look in the mirror and say, 'What
can I do to make the team better?'

"Whatever time we get [on the court], we have to push each other. That was a problem with us [last season]. Everybody has to accept a role. If you're a defender, do it. If you'reanenergy guy, do it. That was why I liked Larry Brown. When I was a rookie, he told me to bring energy and work hard and not worry about  anything else.

"Our team hasn't been consistent, and it shows during the season. I want to see signs of hope of moving forward."