DiLeo returns to 76ers front office

Updated: May 11, 2009, 11:44 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers interim coach Tony DiLeo has withdrawn his name from consideration for the permanent coaching job.

Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski said DiLeo decided Monday to return to his old job in the front office, citing family reasons. DiLeo has two sons -- T.J., a freshman who plays for Temple's basketball team, and Max, a sophomore in high school.

"A coaching job in the NBA is 24-7," Stefanski said. "He felt it was a good move on his part."

Stefanski said the search for a replacement will begin immediately.

Some possible names include TV analyst and former coach Doug Collins, a former Sixers guard; former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, and former Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan.

"I have not contacted one person in the NBA, outside the NBA or anywhere to be the coach of the Sixers," Stefanski said. "No one has contacted me yet."

He did say: "We have to get it right and we will get it right. We're not rushing it. We're going to do our due diligence and get the best candidate to lead the Sixers where everyone wants them to be led."

NBA coaching sources said Monday that Jordan -- who will interview with Sacramento this week -- is high on Philadelphia's list.

Jordan is still owed an estimated $4 million from Washington next season, with the Wizards obligated to pay the difference when the first-year salary from his new team is added in.

But Collins has also been mentioned prominently as a Philly target. Sources close to the situation maintain that there has been no contact yet between the team and the former Sixer, but the sources say that the TNT analyst will consider the position if the Sixers call. One source with knowledge of the Sixers' thinking insisted Monday that their interest in Collins is genuine.

Collins has made it a practice in recent years to at least listen to a variety of offers, as seen when he talked seriously with Chicago about taking the Bulls' coach job a year ago and when he was pursued by Milwaukee for a front-office post.

Because of the money they could save by sharing financial obligations with the Wizards -- as well as the challenges involved in prying Collins away from TNT and the fact that the Sixers will still be paying Maurice Cheeks next season after firing him in December -- Jordan would appear to be a more accessible target. Yet it remains unclear whether the Sixers will make Jordan their top choice and whether Jordan prefers the Sixers to the Kings.

DiLeo replaced Cheeks after the Sixers stumbled to a 9-14 start. They went 32-27 under DiLeo and earned a playoff spot.

Despite the improvement under DiLeo, the 76ers looked lethargic late in the year before getting bounced from the playoffs by the Orlando Magic in the first round. It was the second straight year the Sixers lost in six games in the opening round. Philadelphia still has not won a playoff series since 2003.

After this playoffs, some team members offered only lukewarm endorsements of DiLeo, most notably Andre Iguodala and Theo Ratliff.

"That was the heat of the moment," Stefanski said. "That's why you have exit meetings and interviews. Emotions run high. I talked to Andre and he said he doesn't have a problem with Tony. He was just upset with the way he played."

Stefanski says DiLeo will go back to his former job as a senior vice president and assistant general manager. DiLeo will have input on the process of hiring the next coach.

"This will be wide open," Stefanski said. "I'll lean on our personnel people here."

ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein contributed to this report.