Sixers Hire Doc Rivers As Head Coach

OCTOBER 3: The Sixers have made the hiring of Doc Rivers as the team’s new head coach official, announcing the move today in a press release.

“We are thrilled to welcome Doc Rivers to Philadelphia as the new head coach of the 76ers,” Sixers general manager Elton Brand said. “Doc is one of the most respected and accomplished head coaches in the NBA,” Brand said. “I believe Doc can help us unlock our full potential on the floor and further our pursuit of an NBA championship. I also respect and appreciate that his impact extends far beyond the basketball court as he truly embraces the platform he has to drive positive change in society. Doc is a great fit for our team and city, and I’m excited for what the future holds with him as our head coach.” 

For his part, Rivers expressed excitement with joining Philadelphia, marking his newest coaching opportunity since he parted ways with the Clippers after another early postseason exit.

“I am really excited about the opportunity to be joining a world-class franchise, a franchise whose legend inspired my nickname,” Rivers said. “This is a city that loves sports and loves their teams. It’s a city that values hard work and that is exactly what we are going to do and who we are going to be. We are ready to do good things in Philadelphia.”  

OCTOBER 1, 5:21 : The Sixers and Rivers agreed to a five-year contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

OCTOBER 1, 4:41pm: Just three days after word broke that he was parting ways with the Clippers, Doc Rivers has reached an agreement to become the new head coach of the Sixers, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Rivers will take over on the 76ers’ bench following the team’s August dismissal of Brett Brown, who had been the head coach in Philadelphia for the last seven seasons. Rivers spent those same seven years in Los Angeles, leading the Clippers to a 356-208 (.631) record during that time, including six playoff berths and three postseason series wins.

After a heavily favored Clippers team blew a 3-1 lead over Denver in the second round of this year’s playoffs, Rivers and team owner Steve Ballmer had multiple meetings and ultimately decided not to continue their relationship.

Rivers’ availability upended the Sixers’ in-progress coaching search, which at that point was reportedly between Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue, with D’Antoni widely believed to be the frontrunner. The club quickly reached out to Rivers and got him to Philadelphia for an interview on Wednesday, at which point he supplanted D’Antoni as the favorite for the job.

Rivers – who was intrigued by Philadelphia’s roster, marketplace, and organization, per Wojnarowski – “connected quickly” with general manager Elton Brand and the 76ers’ ownership group during Wednesday’s meetings, according to Woj (Twitter link), who says the former Clippers coach is signing a multiyear deal. According to Jason Dumas of KRON4 News (Twitter link), Sixers ownership had initially wanted D’Antoni while Brand preferred Lue — Rivers represented a candidate that both sides agreed upon.

With two years still left on his contract with the Clippers when he was let go, Rivers didn’t necessarily have to rush into a new coaching job, but the fact that he only took about 72 hours to find a new NBA home suggests he had no desire to take any time off. The 2020/21 season will represent Rivers’ 22nd consecutive year in an NBA head coaching position — he coached the Celtics and Magic before arriving in L.A. in 2013.

In Philadelphia, Rivers will be tasked with taking an underachieving Sixers roster to the next level after the club was eliminated from the playoffs in just four games this summer. He’ll also have to determine how best to unlock the full potential of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, whose offensive games haven’t always meshed smoothly in recent years.

Meanwhile, having been beaten out by Rivers for the Philadelphia job, D’Antoni and Lue will remain on the head coaching market, with five job openings still available. D’Antoni has been linked to the jobs in New Orleans and Indiana, while Lue is expected to meet with the Pelicans and Rockets and has been cited as the potential frontrunner to replace Rivers with the Clippers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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