NEW ORLEANS - Former 76ers guard Lionel Hollins, introduced yesterday as the Memphis Grizzlies' coaching replacement for another former Sixer, Marc Ivaroni, wanted two former NBA head coaches on the bench with him. He has Johnny Davis, a former Sixers coach, as a holdover, but he doesn't have close friend and onetime backcourt mate Maurice Cheeks.
Hollins had extended an invitation to Cheeks, fired last month by the Sixers, and got an early indication that Cheeks would come.
"But he decided he wanted a little more time to himself," Hollins said. "I certainly understand that. He'll have opportunities later."
Hollins said he wanted two experienced men with him "who will have huge responsibility, who have the right to stop a practice and coach because they know what to look for. I'm not egotistical. I know basketball, but I also know the value of having good people around you."
Cheeks' contract with the Sixers runs through next season. With an offset clause likely in place, Cheeks would not have been able to earn any additional money. He would have simply been helping a friend.
A Sonny day
Sixers executive adviser Sonny Hill learned Saturday that he had received honorable mention on the American Sportscsters Association's all-time top 50 list of broadcasters. He was one of three African-Americans - all honorable mentions - to be included.
"This is bigger than [his recent award from] the Hall of Fame," Hill said. "When I was born, we didn't even have a radio."
The Phillies' Harry Kalas, already in Baseball's Hall of Fame, was listed No. 41.
Reggie Evans, who missed 2 days of practice and the game against the Knicks with the flu, rejoined the team yesterday . . . New Orleans, 26-14 after a 116-108 loss Friday at Minnesota, will be without center Tyson Chandler (sprained left ankle) tonight against the Sixers. It remained unclear whether forward David West (back spasms) or backup center Hilton Armstrong (sore left knee) would be available. *