He's not coming back after all.
Just hours after his agent told reporters he expected the coach back for next season, Doug Collins has informed the Sixers that he will not return, according to a source.
The news, first reported by Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, contradicts what John Langel, Collins' agent and longtime friend, said Sunday after the Sixers' victory over Cleveland (see story). Langel said he fully expects Collins to be back next season.
"He's here for another year, at least," Langel told reporters. "He's the coach and we'll see what happens.
“Last year he asked me to get him a contract extension and I did. That added a year to his original three-year deal. He has not asked me to get him an extension beyond next season but I expect him to be here coaching.”
Collins' final year of his contract is believed to pay him $4.5 million.
With the Sixers 33-47, Collins will finish with his worst record in 11 seasons as an NBA head coach. The Sixers are at Detroit on Monday night before finishing the season Wednesday at Indiana.
Speculation about Collins' future grew as the season progressed but hit a new level on Thursday, when the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Sixers “privately hope that [Collins] decides not to return for the 2013-14 season” and that the team "does not intend to extend his contract.”
Later Thursday, a league source told CSNPhilly.com that "the Sixers are completely supportive of Collins as he heads into the last season of his contract as the team's head coach" and that the decision to return or not return is totally up to Collins. On Friday, Collins said he “absolutely” felt supported by the organization and that he has “a great relationship with [owner] Josh Harris.”
Collins, 108-119 in three seasons as Sixers head coach, has not coached any NBA team for more than three seasons. He coached the Bulls and Pistons for three seasons each, and his tenure with the Wizards lasted two seasons.
He leaves one season after the No. 8-seeded Sixers upset the top-seeded Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs and nearly stunned the Boston Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Collins and the Sixers’ brass, however, felt that the team had maxed out as it was assembled and over the summer pulled off a blockbuster deal, trading All-Star Andre Iguodala to Denver and first-round draft picks Nik Vucevic and Maurice Harkless to Orlando, along with a draft pick, to acquire center Andrew Bynum.
With Bynum and a revamped roster featuring veteran sharp-shooter Jason Richardson along with holdovers, Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Thad Young, Collins believed the Sixers were ready to win 60 games and challenge the Miami Heat for supremacy in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, Bynum missed the entire season with knee injuries, and Collins, at age 61, may be done coaching come Wednesday night. Collins could return to broadcasting -- in 2009 he received the Curt Gowdy Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame for his work behind the mic -- and/or opt to spend time with family. Collins has five grandchildren and a home in Arizona, and his son Chris was just given his first head coaching opportunity by Northwestern.
Doug Collins originally joined the Sixers as the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1973 and spent eight injury-marred seasons with the team. Collins was selected to four All-Star teams and went to the 1977 NBA Finals with the Sixers. In 1977, Collins and Julius Erving carried the scoring load as the Sixers took a 2-0 lead over Portland in the NBA Finals. Collins scored 30 in Game 1 but had to get stitches in Game 2 after Darryl Dawkins’ punch meant for Bob Gross caught Collins’ face. From there the Sixers proceeded to lose four in a row.
The Sixers didn’t make it back to the Finals until 1980, but by then Collins’ career was limited by injuries, and he didn’t appear in the playoffs. He retired after just 12 games in the 1980-81 season because of foot and knee injuries.
That’s when Collins got into coaching, first as an assistant for Bob Weinhauer at Penn and then at Arizona State. Soon, the NBA came calling.
Collins coached the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls for three seasons from 1986 to 1989, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in his last season. When Phil Jackson took over, the Bulls won six NBA titles in eight seasons.
In 1995, Collins took over as the coach and general manager of the Detroit Pistons and led the team to 54 wins during the 1996-97 season. Collins coached in the All-Star Game that season but was fired midway through the following season when the Pistons got out to a slow start.
Collins was reunited with Jordan in Washington for two more seasons, starting in 2001-02, but didn’t make it to the playoffs. Though he flirted with the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls in the years that followed, it wasn’t until the Sixers came calling in 2010 that Collins finally returned to the sidelines.