Doug Collins is on his way out as Philadelphia 76ers’ coach.
It remains to be seen if he’ll stick with the organization in some other role.
A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press the Collins and the Sixers are trying to resolve their relationship after the coach told them he would not return for a fourth season.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the issue has not been settled. The person said both sides spent the day working toward an agreement that would keep Collins in the organization in some capacity or free him from the club.
Two people with knowledge of the situation said Collins told the Sixers on Sunday night he would not return next season.
All three people who spoke to the AP say management wanted Collins to return and he was under no pressure to step down. Collins is owed $4.5 million in the last year of his contract.
Team president Rod Thorn was already set to step aside after this season, leaving open the possibility Collins assumes some front office control.
The Sixers are 33-47 and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference a year after they won 35 games and a round in the playoffs in last year’s lockout-shortened season. The Sixers finish out the season Monday in Detroit and Wednesday in Indiana.
Collins not did address his future with the team on Sunday.
Philadelphia forward Evan Turner didn’t sound bothered by any distractions.
”Everything that’s supposed to occur is after the season. We’re professionals, we try to do our job, and that’s pretty much it,” Turner said. ”I don’t know anything. If it hasn’t come out of the horse’s mouth, it’s just sources.”
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank, whose own future is uncertain amid Detroit’s rebuilding effort, praised Collins.
”To the best of my knowledge, this is still speculation – nothing has been said officially by the 76ers or by Doug,” Frank said. ”So I don’t want to say too much other than that Doug is one of the best coaches in this league, a great person and a great mentor.”
Collins, a four-time All-Star with the Sixers, returned to the franchise in 2010 and led them to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons.
After falling one win shy of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals last season, the Sixers shook up the roster and made the bold move to acquire All-Star center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Collins would have likely returned had Bynum panned out and kept the Sixers in contention with numbers close to his career highs 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds set last season with the Lakers.
Instead of helping the Sixers get ready for a playoff run, Bynum never played for them because of bone bruises in both knees.
He had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees last month. Bynum earned $16.5 million this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Bynum’s agent, David Lee, refused on Monday to discuss possible contract terms for next season. But he said Bynum would be ”ready to go” for training camp.
Lee said Collins’ leaving as coach did not change the way Bynum viewed the Sixers and the All-Star center would be open to a return, if the franchise is interested. Bynum is set to shed his crutches on Friday and begin the next phase of his rehabilitation.
Lee said there are no plans for Bynum to return to Germany for the Orthokine blood-spinning treatment in his knees that other professional athletes have sought.
He understood why Sixers fans were upset with Bynum after several target dates for a return came and went.
”The experience has been a positive one, except for the outcome,” Lee said by phone. ”It’s regrettable, but this unfortunately happens in professional sports.”