CINCINNATI (MCT) — The Philadelphia 76ers’ first significant setback of this grueling NBA season, which is still one week from tip-off, appears to be a lingering head injury suffered by coach Doug Collins.

Suffering from symptoms related to a concussion he sustained months ago, the former Illinois State All-American returned to Philadelphia before Tuesday’s preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cincinnati to see a neurologist about his dizziness and headaches.

Collins, who suffered the concussion during Memorial Day weekend, flew home before the team’s morning shoot-around at US Bank Arena, the Sixers announced on Tuesday morning.

In Collins’ place, associate head coach Michael Curry coached the Sixers against the Cavaliers.

“He had a spill this summer out in Arizona and I think he got a concussion from it,” said Collins’ son, Chris, an assistant coach at Duke University. “And since then, he’s had some dizzy spells.”

Collins, 59, also has had some distinct lifestyle changes, including working 12-to-14-hour days with the Sixers.

“We didn’t expect it; we didn’t know it,” Curry said of Collins’ ailment. “You go up and down with your fatigue, but we didn’t know he was having pain with his headaches and stuff like that.”

Sixers president Rod Thorn said the team is hoping Collins’ absence will be brief. No decision had been made on Collins’ availability for tonight’s preseason finale against the New York Knicks in Philadelphia.

Thorn, along with Collins’ staff, had no previous knowledge of the coach’s condition.

“This is from a previous injury, with the headaches, according to him,” Curry said. “They have to figure out why he’s having those headaches, and hopefully he’s OK.

“I told him, ‘Good luck at the doctor’s office and we need you. We’ll take care until you can get back.’ ”

Sixers forward Thaddeus Young said the team was told that “everything was going to be fine ... and he’s going to be back as soon as possible.”

“They just came in and said he’s flying back to take a few tests, that’s about it,” Young said. “They didn’t tell us any more than that; they didn’t want us to worry.”

Thorn said he was told Collins had awakened in the middle of the night and felt ill.

“For the last few days, he’s had like a vertigo, some headaches, and hadn’t been feeling well,” Thorn said.


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