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Report: Collins tells 76ers he's leaving after this season

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Associated Press
4/14/2013 11:27:24 PM
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PHILADELPHIA -- Doug Collins has told the Philadelphia 76ers he will quit as head coach following this season with a year left on his contract.

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that Collins informed ownership he's not coming back for a fourth season on the bench.

The people spoke to The AP on Sunday on condition of anonymity because the Sixers and Collins had not formally announced the move.

The people told The AP that management wanted Collins to return and he was under no pressure to step down. There was no immediate word if Collins, owed $4.5 million in the last year of his contract, would remain with the franchise in some capacity.

Team president Rod Thorn was already set to step aside after this season, leaving open the possibility Collins assumes greater front office control.

With the franchise in decline after the Andrew Bynum trade was a massive flop, Collins decided he wanted no part of what could be a long rebuilding effort.

The Sixers are 33-47 and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference a year after they won 35 games and a round in the playoffs in last year's lockout-shortened season. The Sixers finish out the season Monday in Detroit and Wednesday in Indiana.

Team owner Joshua Harris, who did not immediately respond to emails Sunday night, was scheduled to meet with the media on Thursday.

Collins, a four-time All-Star with the Sixers, returned to the franchise in 2010 and led them to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons.

After falling one win shy of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals last season, the Sixers shook up the roster and made the bold move to acquire Bynum.

Bynum never played for the Sixers because of bone bruises in both knees. He insisted from training camp he would play this season, only to shut it down for good on March 18 and undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Bynum earned $16.5 million this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Sixers picked up the option on Collins' contract for the 2013-14 season in training camp and he said then he wanted to remain with the organization in some capacity when his coaching career is over. It's over earlier than they expected.

His decision, first reported by Yahoo Sports, came out only hours after his agent told reporters Collins would return next season.

"He's here for another year, at least," agent John Langel said. "He's the coach and we'll see what happens."

There was no immediate word when he notified his players. No Sixer indicated in the postgame locker room that Collins was leaving.

Hall of Famer Julius Erving, a former Sixers great and team adviser, said before Sunday's win over Cleveland that the Sixers needed to keep Collins.

"The organization can ill-afford to have Doug walk away," Erving said. "You're not going to get a better coach or a better teacher."

Collins refused to discuss his job status on Sunday.

Collins guided a young Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls from 1986-89, and the Detroit Pistons from 1995-98. He coached Jordan again with the Washington Wizards from 2001-03.

His two seasons with the Wizards had been his only two full seasons in which he did not lead his team to the playoffs. He was fired shortly after Jordan was denied a return to the front office.

Collins worked for TNT after leaving the Wizards and received the Curt Gowdy Media Award at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his work as a broadcaster.

He was a four-time All-Star with the Sixers, and he averaged 17.9 points in a career marred by injuries. A knee injury forced him to retire in 1981, two years before the 76ers beat the Lakers for the 1983 NBA title.

His son, Chris Collins, was hired as head coach at Northwestern earlier this month.

Doug Collins (Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
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