Report: Sixers hope Doug Collins walks at end of season

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It’s pretty clear the Sixers are done with Doug Collins and Doug Collins is pretty done with the 76ers. This fits the Collins burnout pattern — three seasons with the Bulls, three seasons with Detroit, two with Washington, now three in Philly.

But of course, it’s not going to be that simple because there is still money on the table.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the Sixers hope Collins just decides to walk away at the end of the season (via CSNPhilly.com).

According to multiple league sources, the 76ers organization privately hopes that coach Doug Collins decides not to return for the 2013-14 season and, regardless of his decision, it does not intend to extend his contract – which has one year remaining.

It will be an interesting game of cat-and-mouse when this season ends. Collins is unlikely to quit and leave $4.5 million on the table, but he is just as unlikely to agree to coach the lame-duck year of his contract.

Later in the morning a source told John Finger at CSNPhilly.com that the call was all Collins on next season.

If Doug Collins does not return to coach the Philadelphia 76ers next season, it won’t be because the Sixers want him out, according to a league source. The source said the Sixers are completely supportive of Collins as the coach of the team as he heads into the last season of his contract.

Of course, that’s what Sixers sources have to say — Collins is still popular with fans. They need to pick their PR battles.

This season has worn on everybody in Philadelphia — the coach, the players, the front office and the fans. They came in with high expectations after making the playoffs last season then adding Andrew Bynum to the mix. But Bynum and his bad knees never got on the court and the Sixers have been in limbo. They will miss the postseason.

Collins is an old-school hard*** who pushes his players hard and pushes management just as hard. He’s been good for the Sixers as he helped build a foundation in Philly — he helped instill discipline in an organization, he made the players accountable. But his style wears thin after a couple years. What would prompt him to walk away? Here is what he told CSNPhilly.com back in February:

“As long as I am having fun and feel like I am making a difference, I will try [to keep coaching],” he said. “The moment I feel like I am not making a difference in the young players’ lives or doing my job to get the winning in a place that it should be, then I will make that decision.”

This season took a toll on him and he has the look of a guy ready to move on, but it’s his call now. From the Inquirer.

Collins, who will be 62 this summer, will be the one making the decision. Management is not eager to get into a public-relations war with a popular former player and charismatic local hero. The two sides would have to come to an agreement to settle the contract, but if that is the price of a peaceful parting, the organization might consider it a bargain.

That’s my guess, some kind of buyout and the Sixers can move on with their summer of big questions: What to do about Bynum as a free agent? Do you trade Evan Turner? And what style of team are you trying to build, anyway?

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

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The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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