INDIANAPOLIS -- Doug Collins didn’t need to explain how disappointing the 2012-13 season was for the 76ers.
He did anyway.
Prior to the regular-season finale against the Central Division champion Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Collins talked briefly about how things haven’t worked out for the Sixers this season but added there is a strong nucleus for next season.
Then again, it’s not like Collins will be around to see it. Sources say he is coaching his last game with the Sixers on Wednesday night, ending his tenure after just three years. The team has made no official announcement, and the players still haven’t been updated on their coach’s future.
They will hear it soon enough.
In the meantime, Collins reflected on a season of “great expectations” that just didn’t work out.
“It was exciting to come to training camp, and then right before training camp we got the news that Andrew [Bynum] had bruised his kneecap,” Collins said.
“We had a lot of pieces that we thought we’re going to fit in nicely with what we had. Then all of sudden the group that we had, we saw that we didn’t have. All of a sudden we had to figure things differently.”
It didn’t come together until late in the season. By then it didn’t matter.
“The last six weeks we’ve probably played as well as we have all season long,” Collins said. “We’ve had some very good wins and been really cohesive as a team. I think we enjoyed playing and I’m proud of that.”
The Sixers could have played out the string, and the players working on the last year of contracts could have played to pad their stats. Instead, Collins said the team remained focused on staying competitive.
It doesn’t always work that way, the coach said.
“It’s easy when you go through a season where you expected a lot and you go through the injuries and all and you’re losing to mail it in,” Collins said. “Our guys never, ever mailed it in.”
The future remains unclear. With Collins on his way out and six players on the last year of their contracts and another with a player option, there is sure to be another major roster overhaul this summer.
A coaching search, the draft lottery and draft workouts and then free agency is going to keep the front office busy. In the meantime, Collins says the Sixers’ core is strong. Jrue Holiday will be back and Evan Turner, Thad Young and Spencer Hawes are under contract for next year. If that’s the Sixers’ base, it’s young.
“When you look at the team now, I think you have a nice nucleus to build,” Collins said. “You have Evan for three years and Jrue for four. Spencer has really developed and proud of what he’s done. You know what you have with Thad. I’m excited watching Justin Holiday play here. Arnett [Moultrie] has played well and he goes into the summer knowing exactly what he has to do.”
Then there is Bynum, whose future is unclear, and until it gets figured out, the Sixers’ prospects remain just as murky.