The 76ers privately want coach Doug Collins to step down after this season, according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer, who cited “multiple league sources.”

The report has been disputed by Collins’ agent and an anonymous league source. And Collins himself recently weighed in on the strong level of support he feels he has from Sixers management and whether he intends to return next season.

“It’ll be something I decide about,” Collins told the Courier-Post late last month. “I don’t want any focus on that right now. Every year I evaluate my life and what I want to do. I feel very strongly that Josh Harris and the ownership feels very strongly about me as a coach. I’ll figure that out. But I’m enjoying this group of guys and how they’re finishing this season. They’ve shown a lot of heart.”

Collins, 61, is in his third season as coach of the Sixers and is scheduled to make $4.5 million next season in the final year of his contract. He has never stayed for longer than three seasons in any of his previous NBA coaching stops, spending three seasons in Chicago, 21/2 seasons in Detroit and two seasons in Washington.

Collins has led the Sixers to two playoff appearances and a 107-119 record, including a 31-47 mark with four games remaining this season, which will end without a postseason appearance. The Sixers entered this season with high expectations after the team reshaped its roster and traded for one-time All-Star center Andrew Bynum. But those high hopes cratered as Bynum missed the entire season with knee injuries.

Collins, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1973, played his entire eight-year career with the Sixers. The Inquirer suggests that the Sixers do not want to fire Collins for two reasons.

First, the team would prefer he quit so it doesn’t have to pay the remainder of his contract. And second, the Sixers fear any public relations hit that might come with dismissing a beloved former player.

Wednesday, Collins made similar comments to the Inquirer as compared to those he shared with the Courier-Post, saying that he’s “entirely focused on trying to win the games we have left” and that he’s “not thinking at all about next season.”