76ers said to be favoring Collins

All signs point toward Doug Collins.

The 76ers’ coaching search, which is more than a month old and has
dwindled to only a handful of candidates, has a distinct front-runner:

According to multiple sources, Collins is the leading candidate, ahead
of former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson and former Toronto
Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, although it’s possible that Ed Stefanski,
the Sixers’ president and general manager, will schedule a second round
of interviews.

One source close to Collins said his camp has been given the impression that the job is his, expressing the belief that Stefanski already has made his recommendation to Ed Snider, chairman of the team’s parent company, Comcast-Spectacor.

The only thing separating Collins from the job offer, according to the source, is the logistics of timing and due diligence by Stefanski.

The source said it wouldn’t be impossible to see a job offer before the end of this week.

Collins, 58, is covering the NBA’s Western Conference finals as an analyst for TNT. (The series is his final commitment with the network.) The Flyers, also under the Comcast-Spectacor banner, are in the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals.

A second source confirmed that Collins was the definitive front-runner for the Sixers’ coaching vacancy but said second interviews were still likely to begin this week.

Since interviewing Collins on May 1, Stefanski has contacted Collins’ camp at least every other day, as reported last week in The Inquirer. It was this show of good faith that kept Collins involved in the drawn-out search, which he would have abandoned if he had not been kept informed consistently.

Stefanski has interviewed seven candidates for the team’s coaching vacancy. Eddie Jordan was fired April 15, less than 24 hours after his finished his only season with a 27-55 record.

In the weeks following Jordan’s dismissal, Stefanski interviewed Collins, then Johnson, Mitchell and a quartet of NBA assistant coaches in Bill Laimbeer, Dan Majerle, Monty Williams, and Elston Turner.

The source said that Collins would consider only two NBA coaching vacancies: with the Sixers, for whom he played from 1973 to ’81, and with the Chicago Bulls, whom he coached from 1986 to ’89.

Johnson, also thought to be a legitimate option for the Sixers, interviewed Monday for the Atlanta Hawks’ coaching vacancy and is said to be leaning toward the New Orleans Hornets’ opening. Johnson is a New Orleans native.

An NBA head coaching job recently opened in Atlanta and could open in Cleveland.


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