76ers coach Doug Collins says this season has been his toughest

Spencer Hawes and Dorell Wright guard the Pacers' Roy Hibbert in Wednesday's 88-69 loss, a defeat that snapped the 76ers' three-game winning streak.
Spencer Hawes and Dorell Wright guard the Pacers' Roy Hibbert in Wednesday's 88-69 loss, a defeat that snapped the 76ers' three-game winning streak. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff)
Posted: February 09, 2013

In his 11 seasons as a coach, Doug Collins has spent his fair share of time under the microscope.

He has coached Michael Jordan in Chicago and Washington, and a healthy Grant Hill in his prime in Detroit.

But none of those experiences prepared Collins, in his third season as 76ers coach, for the ups and downs he has encountered in 2012-13.

"I don't know that you can plan to go through what we've gone through this year; it's been pretty tough," Collins said. "It's been the toughest year I've ever had as a coach, and the reason is that there are great expectations.

"I've gone to places where the rosters were thin, but there weren't expectations," he added. "Going into this season after finishing the way we did and making the big trade, there were expectations of us being a top-four team and a lot of exciting things happening. No Andrew [Bynum] and now we've lost [Jason Richardson]. This has been the toughest challenge that I've ever had."

Collins and the Sixers welcomed Jeremy Pargo, signed to a 10-day contract, to their practice facility at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on Thursday, one day after saying goodbye to Shelvin Mack at the expiration of his second 10-day deal.

It is unlikely that Pargo, who scored a career-high 28 points to lead Cleveland past the Sixers, 92-82, in November, will be the answer to the questions circling the Sixers.

Collins has yet to coach the team with Bynum in the middle. Earlier this week, the Sixers lost Thaddeus Young for the next three weeks with a strained left hamstring. And as of Thursday night, the Sixers were still awaiting word on Richardson, who could miss the rest of the season if he has surgery on his ailing left knee.

In the absence of a healthy roster, Collins watched the Sixers fail to win a season-high fourth game in a row on Wednesday. The Indiana Pacers held the Sixers (21-27) to just 69 points, their lowest total since they scored 67 against New Jersey on April 5, 2009.

Just as telling, Collins said the Sixers reminded him of last season's team when it lost five straight games before the all-star break after starting the season 20-9.

"Last night I felt like it was sort of the way we went into the all-star break last year," Collins said. "We had no energy for whatever reason. We were very lethargic."

Bynum, who still has pain in his left knee, has said he hopes to finally play for the Sixers this month, probably after the all-star break (Feb. 14-19). Young is expected to be healthy by the end of the month as well.

The Sixers, who host Charlotte on Saturday, are not ruling out making a trade by the Feb. 21 deadline. According to Collins, the Sixers will make trades only if they benefit the team over the long haul.

"If you are going to do something, you are going to have to do something that works," he said. "It's going to have to be something that is going to work into your future."

Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.

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