This figures to be an offseason of dramatic change for the roster. The team will have some money to spend and is finally nearing the end of some onerous contracts that left the organization idling in neutral for several years. Collins, who will be 61 in July, is not a patient man by nature, and he is probably ready for a roster that meshes instead of grinds against itself.
One thing appears certain, although there were rumors to the contrary. When the team regathers in that next locker room and the remaining faces are merged with the new ones, Collins still will be standing in the middle of the room. During a bad mid-to-late-season lull, when there were published reports that the team had stopped listening to Collins, it was fair to wonder whether the inmates would take over the prison.
That isn't going to happen, and some of the inmates will be relocated instead. Josh Harris, the managing owner of the team, sat in with Collins when he conducted individual exit interviews with the players on Sunday. That's unusual, and it indicates a working partnership that forms the core of the team's current decision-making hierarchy.
Harris said Sunday that Collins' contract, which is guaranteed for one more year and contains a club option for the 2013-14 season, probably will be extended soon.
"We haven't sat down and had that discussion yet, but we want Doug to be here a long, long time," Harris said. "We consider Doug a real asset of the organization."
In two years, Collins has taken a lifeless team and transformed it into a winner, and done it using almost the same roster from which Eddie Jordan had elicited a 27-55 record. And if you wanted to see a team in full mutiny, that was the one.
Collins sold the players on defense, and he has mixed and matched his mismatched pieces trying to find offense, usually unsuccessfully.
This season, he went with Jodie Meeks in the starting lineup most of the regular season just to have a reasonable outside threat. He finally switched Meeks with Evan Turner to get better movement and penetration in the half-court, even though it is a riskier game. With Turner starting, the Sixers averaged 12.1 turnovers. With Turner playing a reserve role, they averaged 10.8. That doesn't sound like a lot, but for a team that plays with such a small margin for error, it adds up.
He wheedled and pleaded and screamed and coached his eyebrows off, and the Sixers steadied themselves by the end of the season and had the good fortune to play a crippled Chicago team and then a fading Boston team in the postseason. They almost got to the conference finals and, well, let's just say Eddie Jordan didn't come equally close.
"We've got to get better," Collins said Sunday. "It's great to be an overachiever. That's great. But to be a champion, you can't overachieve. We've got to sit down, evaluate every player, and see how it all fits together. We've got to figure out how to score the ball, and we've got to get bigger, stronger, and more athletic on the front line."
A great shooter and a great big man. That's what they need. How to get them is another matter. In his two years as team president, Rod Thorn hasn't been very active. When most of your transactions involve Craig Brackens, there is some room for improvement. Maybe his hands were tied by the frugal ropes of Father Comcast his first season, and there simply wasn't much he could have done this season. Maybe that, or maybe Harris sniffs complacency in the air and decides we never find out what Thorn might do in his third season. That's how much uncertainty surrounds the organization.
If you were making a list of players certain to be back, the list probably would include Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen, and Nikola Vucevic. Those five are an average of 23 years old, and that's about the extent of the list. The rest of the roster could be discarded for a variety of reasons, whether for salary-cap relief, to use as trade bait, or simply to stop looking at the same faces.
Change is coming, and perhaps very soon, but the man standing in the middle of the room isn't going anywhere.
"I'm totally committed," Collins said. "As long as Josh wants me here, I'll be here for him."
With that much settled, let the unsettling process begin. It should be interesting.
Contact Bob Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org, read his blog at www.philly.com/postpatterns, and follow on Twitter @bobfordsports.