King says Cheeks will return to coach Philly next year

PHILADELPHIA -- Ending speculation that Larry Brown would
again coach the Philadelphia 76ers, team president Billy King said
on Friday that Maurice Cheeks would return next year for a third

"I think under these circumstances, he's done a good job,"
King said before the Sixers played the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Sixers (23-38) hoped to contend for an Eastern Conference
playoff spot this season before chemistry problems and a slow start
derailed the franchise. Former MVP Allen Iverson clashed with the
mild-mannered Cheeks and was eventually traded to Denver, and
unhappy forward Chris Webber had his contract bought out.

With the two biggest distractions gone, the Sixers started
playing better. They won their season-high sixth-straight game on
Friday against the Lakers, the longest active streak in the Eastern
Conference, and have won seven straight at home.

"I'm excited about that," Cheeks said. "I'm pleased about
that, but my job is to get better night in and night out."

King said he told Cheeks, who went 38-44 last season, that he
would return earlier this week.

"I almost didn't really feel like I needed to, because we were
always talking about this summer and planning like we normally
have," King said. "But I thought with all the things being
written, I probably should tell him, 'Hey, you are going to be the

It won't be Brown. Brown returned to the organization in January
as executive vice president, sparking rumors that he would return
to coach the franchise he led to the NBA finals in 2001. There was
even talk that Brown's frequent appearances at Villanova games
meant he was looking at Jay Wright as a possible candidate.

King diffused those rumors.

"I talk to Maurice every time one of those stories came out,"
he said. "I'd say, 'Mo, you're doing a great job. Keep doing your
job.' Larry has been a great friend and he's still a great friend,
but he was never brought in to take over the team."

Cheeks was an All-Star point guard who led the Sixers to the
1983 NBA championship. His retired No. 10 hangs in the rafters and
he returned to Philadelphia before last season after 3½ tumultuous
years coaching Portland.

"A lot of people have written that the bottom was going to fall
out with everything that happened, and he kept this group playing
hard, focused and upbeat," King said. "Really, it's a joy
watching us play now."

Cheeks remained steady and optimistic, even as the Sixers got
off to an 11-30 start. He never publicly scolded his young team and
told them to tune out talk about lottery picks and lousy records.

"Oh man, this guy again," joked center Samuel Dalembert. "I
have to give him credit, he never gave up on us. He kept staying