Collins resigns as 76ers coach

Doug Collins, who twice led the Sixers to the playoffs, will stay on as a team adviser. "This is a job where you have to pour your heart and soul into every single second," he said.
Doug Collins, who twice led the Sixers to the playoffs, will stay on as a team adviser. "This is a job where you have to pour your heart and soul into every single second," he said. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff)
Posted: April 20, 2013

At some point during a marathon West Coast road trip that placed thousands of miles between him and his loved ones, 76ers coach Doug Collins, 62, realized that while he was physically with the team, mentally and emotionally he had checked out.

And that is when Collins, who officially resigned as coach Thursday after three seasons and with a 110-120 record, knew it was time to sever the umbilical cord that has attached him to the Sixers since they made him the top pick in the 1973 draft.

"I just knew that there was something else that I was thinking about," Collins said of his mind-set during a 13-day, seven-game trip over the holidays. "This is a job where you have to pour your heart and soul into every single second."

No longer capable of that, Collins informed general manager Tony DiLeo and team president Rod Thorn about two months ago that he wanted to formulate an exit strategy that would relieve him of his coaching duties and allow him to work as a team adviser for the next five seasons.

Collins will collect some or all of the remaining $4.5 million he is owed next season. Having led the Sixers to the playoffs in his first two seasons, Collins, who had his worst coaching performance in his 12-year career, now plans to spend time with his grandchildren and his son, Chris, named earlier this month the new head coach at Northwestern University.

One day after the Sixers (34-48) concluded the season with a meaningless 105-95 victory over Indiana, majority owner Josh Harris and Collins addressed the situation publicly for the first time at a morning news conference.

"I tried to convince Doug to stay," Harris said. "But at the end of the day, when someone says they want to spend time with their grandkids and help their son, it is a decision that I respect."

Despite reports that he was leaving, Collins, who advised his legal representation that he did not want to pursue an extension beyond next season, didn't inform his players of his decision until Thursday.

In his new role, Collins said, he will be involved in, among other things, the pursuit of his eventual replacement.

Collins said he would endorse the candidacy of associate head coach Michael Curry. Curry played for Collins in Detroit and coached the Pistons for one season, taking them to the 2009 playoffs.

Harris will no doubt look at multiple candidates to replace Collins, who also coached at Detroit, Chicago, and Washington.

Harris plans an in-depth search that he said would conclude with a decision agreed upon by DiLeo and himself.

"I'd like to have a coach but ultimately I want to have the right coach," Harris said. "I don't think that's going to happen overnight. It's going to take a little time to figure out who is going to coach the team.

"This is something that Doug decided and it was decided very recently, so we don't have a ready-made coach. We are going to have to spend time analyzing it and working through a process. That's the only way I know how to do things."

In all four of his coaching jobs, Collins has never stayed longer than three seasons. This season was especially taxing on Collins, who had high expectations for a team that was supposed to feature second-team, all-league center Andrew Bynum.

Acquired in a massive four-team deal last summer, Bynum, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, was supposed to thrust the Sixers into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. But he never suited up for the Sixers and is recovering from cartilage surgery on both knees.

A healthy Bynum, however, would not have persuaded Collins to stay.

"No," Collins said, adding that he was done with coaching. "I was not going to base this upon winning and losing."


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

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