PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Doug Collins has resigned after three seasons as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and will remain with the franchise as an adviser.
Collins has one year left on his original four-year deal worth $4.5 million. He steps down after a season so full of promise unraveled starting with the knee injury to center Andrew Bynum. The Sixers went 34-48 and missed the playoffs for the first time in his three seasons.
The decision was announced by owner Josh Harris Thursday.
“This is his decision,” Harris said. “He is not being pushed out.”
Collins was on hand at the team’s end-of-season press conference, and told reporters he made this decision in December, citing family reasons.
“There are a lot of things I want to enjoy,” he said.
That, and Collins wanted no part of what is expected to be a long rebuilding process from the bench. He will instead add his input from the front office.
The Sixers picked up the option on Collins’ contract for the 2013-14 season in training camp and he said then he wanted to remain with the organization in some capacity when his coaching career is over. It’s over earlier than expected.
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. A year ago, the Sixers eliminated the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round and fell a win shy of reaching the Eastern Conference finals.
Collins guided a young Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls from 1986-89, and the Detroit Pistons from 1995-98. He coached Jordan again with the Washington Wizards from 2001-03.
His two seasons with the Wizards had been his only two full seasons in which he did not lead his team to the playoffs. He was fired shortly after Jordan was denied a return to the front office.
Collins worked for TNT after leaving the Wizards and received the Curt Gowdy Media Award at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his work as a broadcaster.
He averaged 17.9 points in a career marred by injuries. A knee injury forced him to retire in 1981, two years before the 76ers beat the Lakers for the 1983 NBA title.
His son, Chris Collins, was hired as coach at Northwestern earlier this month, after a stint as an assistant with Duke.
After losing Game 7 to Boston last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Philadelphia shook up the roster and made the bold move to acquire Bynum.
Bynum never played for the Sixers because of bone bruises in both knees. He insisted from training camp he would play this season, only to shut it down for good on March 18 and undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Bynum earned $16.5 million this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Bynum is one of six free agents for the Sixers, who are devoid of any real assets. Jrue Holiday was an All-Star in his third full season and joined Wilt Chamberlain as the two players in the franchise’s 50-year history to average more than 17 points and eight assists for an entire season.
Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner are solid assets. But those two standouts — along with Holiday — weren’t enough to help lead the Sixers back to the postseason.
In what ended up being Collins’ last game, Philadelphia gave the coach an impressive win. Dorell Wright scored 23 points and Turner added 16 as the 76ers posted a 105-95 victory over Indiana.
“Whatever he wants to do, whatever makes him feel happy, you know what I’m saying,” Turner said when asked if he wanted Collins back late Wednesday night. “You go through that type of year, go through that type of situation, strenuous and all of that. It’s all about what he decides to do. He has a lot of options and whatever’s the best decision for him.
“He could always go back to commentating. Whatever he wants to do that makes him happy.”
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