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?

Josh Allen’s old tweet: ‘I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks’

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Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.

And there’s an NBA tie.

Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:

I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks

— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011

Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.

But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.

Donovan Mitchell tells Thunder fans, Jazz teammates Utah not returning to Oklahoma City this season

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The Jazz blew a 25-point second-half lead in Game 5 last night, extending their series with the Thunder. Up 3-2, the Jazz are still in control. They can close out in Game 6 tomorrow in Utah. Blow that, and they must return to Oklahoma City for Game 7 Sunday.

But Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell is making it abundantly clear he doesn’t plan to do that.

Gabe Ikard of The Franchise 107.7:

Jake Edmonds of KUTV:

A confident proclamation that rallies his team or youthful exuberance run amok?

The narrative will be decided after Game 6. That’s just how this is done.

Report: Grizzlies moving toward keeping J.B. Bickerstaff as coach

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From the moment Robert Pera opted to retain control of the Grizzlies and end a prolonged ownership saga, it seemed interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff would remain Memphis’ coach.

Lo and behold…

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Bickerstaff did a decent job before the Grizzlies started tanking. But that was a small a sample, and his prior work as Rockets interim coach was uninspiring.

To be fair to Bickerstaff, those were both difficult situations. He’s an experienced assistant who might be ready for this challenge.

To be less fair to Bickerstaff, this looks like Memphis taking the cheap route. The Grizzlies didn’t appear to conduct much of a coaching search, if any. Nor has Bickerstaff been mentioned with other openings. It probably won’t cost as much to hire him as it would a more-established option.

Memphis seems to be operating under the belief that a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will right the ship next season. And they might. But given the age and injury history of those two, I wouldn’t assume they stay healthy and productive all season. Even if they do, they’d have to carry an underwhelming supporting cast – with limited room for upgrade this summer – in a deep Western Conference.

The Grizzlies want Bickerstaff, who’d be a first-time non-interim head coach, leading that team trying to win now? That doesn’t seem like the right risk-reward balance – at least until considering his salary, and even then.

Rumor: 76ers increasingly confident about signing LeBron James

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LeBron James-76ers rumors have been mainstream for the better part of the year.

And they’re not going anywhere.

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

I now fully understand why whispers about the Philadelphia 76ers and their growing behind-the-scenes confidence that they can woo LeBron to Philly this summer are getting louder.

Why shouldn’t they be increasingly confident? Led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the 76ers have already won a playoff series. The Cavaliers are mired in a tight first-round series with the Pacers, and LeBron’s supporting cast has mostly stunk.

This has the makings of LeBron’s previous free agencies – when he left barren Cleveland for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat in 2010, when he left aging Miami for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love with the Cavaliers in 2014. Whatever motivations and narratives attached to LeBron’s decisions, he has left sinking teams for better-positioned ones.

The 76ers are good enough to fit that. They also have the cap flexibility to acquire him without sacrificing roster strength.

That LeBron has positioned himself as a mentor to Simmons – who shares an agent, Rich Paul, with LeBron – would only make signing with Philadelphia easier. LeBron could sell the narrative of teaching and grooming Simmons. LeBron, who cares about his legacy, must explain why he’s again leaving his hometown team in a way that won’t alienate everyone – not easy considering his homecoming message upon his return. Working first-hand with his protégé would look understandable, maybe even commendable.

All that said, growing confidence could be going from a 1% chance to a 10% chance. That’d be a 10-fold increase while leaving Philadelphia a big underdog.

LeBron’s free agency is still a huge unknown – including, at least in part, to LeBron himself. But I believe he has already started to consider options, even if he hasn’t made up his mind. And when that happens, signs could emerge behind the scenes. Perhaps, the 76ers have a read on those.

Or maybe they’re seeing what we’re all seeing: The 76ers are rising while the Cavs are just trying to keep their heads above water. Which situation would LeBron choose?