Don’t be surprised if Brown is next 76ers’ coach

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CHICAGO – On Larry Brown’s first “official” day as the executive vice president of the Philadelphia 76ers, the 76ers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime Friday when Andre Iguodala failed to run down the clock, running an isolation play without a screen and badly missing a long jumper instead of attacking a weary defense. That gave the Timberwolves the ball with 3.3 seconds left. The 76ers had a foul to give but didn’t use it, leaving lead-footed Samuel Dalembert to chase Kevin Garnett, who swished a 15-foot winner.

Can you say, Larry Brown, the next 76ers head coach?

The 76ers have been busy denying it for a few weeks, though seemingly with less enthusiasm of late.

It’s difficult to believe Brown won’t replace Mo Cheeks soon. It would be Brown’s second term as 76ers coach and his ninth NBA head-coaching job with eight different teams.

Brown is expected to have a news conference this week. The 76ers already have said Brown was called in as an adviser to general manager Billy King on the Allen Iverson trade talks. Reports also persist that a buyout is underway for Chris Webber. With those two gone, the 76ers would be primed for a Brownesque reshaping of the roster in his “playing-the-right-way” image.

Friends say the Hall of Fame coach is desperate to eradicate the blot on his reputation from the failed Olympic experience in 2004, his firing by the Pistons in 2005 after consecutive Finals appearances and a 2004 NBA championship and his miserable 2005-06 season (23-59) with the Knicks.

His $18.5 million settlement from the Knicks freed Brown to work anywhere without an offset to the Knicks. Brown, in effect, collected $35.5 million for the 2005-06 season, including his $10 million salary, a $7 million settlement to leave the Pistons and his settlement with the Knicks.

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