5:52pm: Sixers spokesman Mike Preston offered a no-comment on the situation, but in so doing, implied Ford's story may have been off-base. Moore tweets Preston's statement: "We will not comment on a column loaded with innuendo and speculation."
THURSDAY, 3:49pm: Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com spoke to Collins' agent, John Langel, who says whether or not Collins returns to the Sixers next season will be up to the head coach.
"The relationship with Doug, me and Sixers management has been terrific," Langel said. "What they told me beyond this season and as recently as today and yesterday is how long Doug stays here is Doug’s decision."
Langel also denied that Ford's report originated from Collins' camp. It's worth noting that although Collins' agent downplayed rumors of tension between the coach and the team, his comments don't necessarily contradict what Ford reported.
WEDNESDAY, 10:25pm: Members of the Sixers front office hope coach Doug Collins resigns after the season, and the team has no plans to extend his contract past 2013/14, sources tell Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer. A source tells Ford he thinks Collins will indeed walk away once the season is over. Ford doesn't specify which executives would prefer Collins to move on, but writes that some members of the organization want a coach who's less demanding not only on players, but with management as well.
The Sixers fell to 31-47 with tonight's loss to the Hawks, a disappointment after playoff appearances in Collins' first two seasons as coach, including last year's push to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Philadelphia seemed poised to climb further up the ladder when they traded for Andrew Bynum in the summer, but the former Lakers center has missed the entire season with problems in both knees.
Part of the reason the team doesn't plan to fire Collins is because it fears a backlash from fans who might side with the coach and stop buying tickets, according to Ford. The decision on whether Collins will return next season is in the coach's hands, just as Marc Stein of ESPN.com wrote this weekend. The 62-year-old Collins has, at various points this season, given the impression he's ready to leave, and a plurality of Hoops Rumors readers believed in February that Collins would step aside at the end of this season.
If Collins steps down, assistant Michael Curry could be next in line, as Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game wrote earlier this year. Collins could resurface with the Bulls, as Ford suggests, or as an assistant coach with Team USA, a position in which Collins has expressed interest.