Doug Collins all but SIGNED???

Well we have been digging around this one for a while here. And you know us here at HBN have been saying since last year that we wanted DOUG COLLINS here, well now it looks as if at least the Homeboyz will get their wish.

( Doug Collins is one step closer to becoming the 76ers’ next coach.

The Sixers began negotiations yesterday with Collins in hopes of making him the team’s seventh coach since Larry Brown and bringing a measure of stability to the franchise, an NBA source told the Daily News.

John Langel, Collins’ agent, declined to comment, although a second source confirmed the start of discussions.

Collins hasn’t coached in the NBA since 2003. He since has been an NBA analyst for TNT, for which he is working the Western Conference Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.

During his eight seasons as coach with the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, Collins, 58, compiled a 332-287 record. A four-time All-Star as a player, Collins was selected with the first overall pick by the Sixers in 1973 and played all eight of his injury-plagued NBA career seasons in Philadelphia.

At each of his previous stops, Collins – a disciplinarian, teacher and stickler for detail – improved his team’s record by at least 10 victories in his first season.

On Tuesday at the NBA draft lottery in Secaucus, N.J., Sixers president and general manager Ed Stefanski said there could be a second round of interviews, but indicated that might not be necessary.

“There are two options: bring some people back for a second interview or just go towards the candidate we feel most comfortable with,” Stefanski said.

It appears they have chosen the latter. Stefanski met with Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider and chief operating officer Peter Luukko yesterday, and the decision was made to start the negotiations with Collins.

Stefanski will spend today and tomorrow in Chicago for the NBA draft combine.

Stefanski said Tuesday that the Flyers’ playoff run is not impacting the Sixers’ coaching search.

“They can multitask,” Stefanski said of Snider and Luukko.

A source had said the top-tier candidates are Collins, Avery Johnson and Sam Mitchell. The Sixers also interviewed current NBA assistant coaches Bill Laimbeer, Monty Williams, Dan Majerle and Elston Turner. *

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