Doc Rivers

Sixers Rumors: Draft Pick, Maxey, Thybulle, Green, Rivers

Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com has been told it’s “relatively likely” that the Nets will take advantage of their ability to defer their acquisition of the Sixers‘ first-round pick a year and will opt to acquire Philadelphia 2023 first-rounder instead of 2022’s No. 23 overall selection.

The Nets have until June 1 to finalize that decision, so nothing is set in stone yet, but the Sixers are preparing as if they’ll have this year’s No. 23 pick, says Neubeck.

Assuming the 76ers do control that pick, it could be used to add a young, inexpensive draftee to the roster or included in a trade package for a veteran. Neubeck points to Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell and Baylor’s Kendall Brown as long, switchable forwards who may be available at No. 23 and who might appeal to Philadelphia.

Here’s more from Neubeck:

  • Even if the Sixers attempt to pursue another star player this offseason, don’t expect the team to dangle guard Tyrese Maxey to make it happen, says Neubeck. “Maxey is as close to untouchable as you could be,” a source told PhillyVoice.
  • Matisse Thybulle is a more realistic trade candidate, but the Sixers won’t move him just to get off his contract, according to Neubeck, who suggests that Danny Green‘s ACL tear has made Thybulle’s defense even more important to the team. If he’s traded, expect it to be for a roster upgrade, Neubeck writes.
  • No decisions have been made yet on Green, who is expected to miss at least half of next season and whose $10MM salary for 2022/23 is non-guaranteed. Green’s $10MM would have to be partially or fully guaranteed in order for it to count for outgoing salary-matching purposes, so he seems to me more likely to be waived than traded. According to Neubeck, it’s possible that if Green is released, he could eventually return on a smaller salary.
  • There are suspicions in league coaching circles that the Lakers haven’t given up on the idea that Doc Rivers could become available for their head coaching job, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article. Neubeck doesn’t dismiss that idea, but observes that the Sixers have been “remarkably consistent” in their messaging – both publicly and privately – that Rivers isn’t going anywhere.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Rivers, Knicks, Flynn

Sixers guard James Harden was still an elite player in 2021/22, but his numbers began trending in the wrong direction and he appeared to have lost the explosive first step that defined his MVP-caliber seasons, writes Tommy Beer of BasketballNews.com.

With Harden set to turn 33 this summer, giving him a long-term, maximum-salary contract could cripple the Sixers and would be borderline “organizational malpractice,” Beer argues. Still, Philadelphia can’t afford to let him walk, since doing so wouldn’t actually open up any meaningful cap room and the team is under pressure to maximize Joel Embiid‘s prime.

As Beer outlines, it will be fascinating to see how those contract discussions play out this offseason, since both sides have some leverage concerns. The Sixers can’t afford to lose Harden, but it will be difficult for the former MVP to play hardball in negotiations, considering none of the teams projected to have cap room are expected to seriously pursue him.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has made it clear that the plan is for Doc Rivers to remain the head coach going forward, prompting Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com to consider whether that decision is the right one for the franchise.
  • Former Knicks center Eddy Curry has confidence in the abilities of executives Leon Rose and William Wesley to turn things around in New York, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Curry said Knicks fans shouldn’t focus on Rose’s lack of public statements and press conferences, since it’s “not his personality” to be in the public eye. “Regardless of how often you see him, you better believe he’s making things happen behind closed doors,” said Curry, who worked with Rose and Wesley during his playing career.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic wonders if Raptors point guard Malachi Flynn could benefit from a change of scenery and identifies some other players in a similar boat whom Toronto could target in a potential Flynn trade, including Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, and Udoka Azubuike.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a series of Celtics notes earlier today.

Morey: Doc Rivers Will Return As Sixers’ Head Coach

Asked directly during his end-of-season press conference whether Doc Rivers would be back in 2022/23 as the Sixers‘ head coach, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey provided a simple response, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.

“Yes,” Morey said.

Rivers, who was hired by the Sixers during the 2020 offseason, has led the team to a 100-54 (.649) regular season mark in the past two years, but hasn’t gotten out of the second round of the playoffs. Philadelphia lost to the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals a year ago and to Miami in the same round this year.

There had been some speculation that Rivers could be on the hot seat for failing to lead the Sixers to at least the Eastern Finals, since the team had championship aspirations following its deadline deal for James Harden. Additionally, Rivers’ hiring preceded Morey’s arrival, so there was a sense that Philadelphia’s lead basketball executive may want to bring in his own coach.

However, Morey’s response today should quell that speculation for the time being. Prompted to expand on the decision to stick with Rivers, Morey had nothing but praise for the 60-year-old.

“I just think he’s a great coach and I love working with him,” Morey said (Twitter link via Neubeck). “… I think (general manager) Elton (Brand) and I and him make a great team, and we’re going to see where this journey takes us.”

Rivers reportedly still has three years and $24MM left on his contract, so it would have been expensive for team ownership to make a change at this point.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Rivers, Green, Butler, Offseason

It has become clear over the course of the season – and especially in the playoffs – that the current version of James Harden isn’t the same one who earned the MVP award in 2018 with the Rockets, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, who suggests that recurring hamstring issues over the last couple years have slowed down the Sixers guard.

“Since we got him, everybody expected the Houston James Harden,” Sixers star Joel Embiid said on Thursday, after the team lost Game 6 to the Heat and was eliminated from the postseason. “But that’s not who he is anymore. He’s more of a play-maker.”

While it’s true that Harden is still an elite play-maker, he’s being paid like he’s also an elite scorer, with a $44.3MM salary this season and a $47.4MM player option for 2022/23.

There’s a belief in some league circles that Harden isn’t fully healthy and has bounce-back potential, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. However, according to Bontemps, the soon-to-be 33-year-old is viewed by many executives as more of a $25-30MM per year player than a superstar who should warrant a five-year, $270MM commitment this offseason.

During an ESPN appearance (video link), Amar’e Stoudemire, who saw Harden up close as a member of the Nets’ coaching staff this season, questioned the guard’s conditioning and advised the Sixers against offering a maximum-salary contract.

Harden, who will be eligible for a contract extension if he picks up his player option or a new free agent contract if he turns it down, suggested after Thursday’s loss that he would be open to taking less than his max, and an Eastern Conference scout who spoke to Bontemps said the 76ers would be wise to go that route.

“If there were any logic whatsoever, the answer (to giving him a max deal) would be no,” the scout said.

Here’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Asked after Thursday’s loss about his job security, head coach Doc Rivers defended his track record, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).I don’t worry about my job,” Rivers said. “I think I do a terrific job. If you don’t, then you should write it. I worked my butt off to get this team here. When I first got here, no one picked us to be anywhere. Again this year, the same thing.”
  • After leaving Game 6 due to a left knee injury, Sixers swingman Danny Green will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the damage, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. There’s “significant concern” that Green’s injury is a serious one, as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps relays.
    [UPDATE: Danny Green Diagnosed With Torn Left ACL, LCL]
  • Having eliminated the 76ers from the postseason, former Sixer Jimmy Butler rubbed salt in the wound, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic, who notes that the Heat forward said in his postgame interview he wishes he were still playing with Embiid. On his way to the locker room after the game, Butler also referenced the 2019 offseason, when Philadelphia invested heavily in Tobias Harris as Butler departed for Miami. “Tobias Harris over me?!” Butler yelled, as captured by Miami’s WPLG Local 10 Sports (video link).
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype both preview the Sixers’ upcoming offseason, examining some of the biggest questions facing the franchise in the coming weeks and months.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Brunson, Rivers, Gobert

Sixers center Joel Embiid won’t win the Most Valuable Player award, but he’s got a bigger goal to chase, as he told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

“Winning a championship is the biggest thing,” the Sixers star said. “And I’ll be honest, I never thought I would be at this level. Coming into the league, I was always like, ‘I’ve got to get a Defensive Player of the Year.’ My defense was always my focus. I’m like, ‘Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year,’ and then, over the years, I’ve gotten (better) offensively.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Jalen Brunson‘s strong postseason is bad news for the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Brunson will be headed to unrestricted free agency and it’s unlikely the Knicks can open up cap space to entice Brunson to jump ship. One league source told Berman it would be shocking if Mavericks owner Mark Cuban didn’t re-sign the fourth-year point guard.
  • There’s no reason for the Sixers to fire Doc Rivers if they don’t go deeper into the postseason, Joe Vardon of The Athletic argues. Rivers has three years and $24MM left on his contract. Under Rivers’ tutelage, Tyrese Maxey has become a budding star and Embiid has delivered the two best seasons of his career, Vardon notes. The Sixers kept on winning despite the Ben Simmons drama and needed to give up two key role players as well as Simmons in order to bring in James Harden.
  • Trading for Rudy Gobert and his hefty contract wouldn’t be worth the risk for the Raptors, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star opines. Gobert doesn’t present enough of an offensive threat, and his ability to switch and guard on the perimeter the way Toronto defends is also a legitimate question. His lack of positional versatility doesn’t fit the Raptors’ roster, Smith adds.

Lakers May Be Waiting For Doc Rivers Or Quin Snyder In Coaching Search

The Lakers‘ gradual pace in searching for a new head coach may be a tactic to see if two prominent names become available. In his latest article for Substack, Marc Stein cites sources who say the team is waiting to find out if Sixers coach Doc Rivers or Jazz coach Quin Snyder will reach the open market.

There has been speculation that Philadelphia might part with Rivers if the team can’t get past Miami in its second-round series. Rivers has a checkered playoff history and recently came under fire for leaving Joel Embiid in the close-out game against Toronto with a 29-point lead. The star center was hit with an inadvertent elbow, fracturing his orbital bone and placing him in the concussion protocol, which forced him to miss the first two games against the Heat.

Rivers still has three seasons and $24MM remaining on the five-year deal he was given when he was hired in 2020, but some observers believe the Sixers would consider a change in the wake of a playoff exit. Rivers has a 100-54 regular season record in his two years in Philadelphia, but his team was upset in the second round of last year’s playoffs and he wasn’t hired by current president of basketball operations Daryl Morey.

Snyder has one year left on his contract with the Jazz. Utah is expected to be ready for changes after a first-round elimination, though if a coaching change is among them, it may be instigated by Snyder rather than by the team. He has spent eight seasons with the Jazz, compiling a 372-264 record. There have also been rumors that the Hornets would also consider Snyder in their coaching search if he becomes available.

The Lakers have been without a head coach since dismissing Frank Vogel on April 11. Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin have all interviewed for the position.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Rivers, Thybulle, Harden

Sixers center Joel Embiid suspected that he had a concussion and a broken bone in his face immediately after being struck by Pascal Siakam‘s elbow in the closing moments of their first-round series, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Embiid went through a similar injury four years ago in a collision with then-teammate Markelle Fultz. That resulted in a break of the opposite orbital bone and forced Embiid to have surgery to relieve pressure in his eye. It appears he will avoid surgery this time, and he’s hoping to be able to return for Game 3 or 4 against Miami.

After several days of concussion symptoms, Embiid’s sensitivity to light improved enough by Wednesday that he was able to FaceTime with coach Doc Rivers and watch the Sixers battle the Heat in Game 2, sources tell Shelburne. The team has a mask ready for Embiid in case he’s able to play, but he probably won’t need goggles like he did in 2018, according to Shelburne’s sources.

Embiid remains determined to play as soon as he clears concussion protocols, Shelburne adds, and his return may be Philadelphia’s only hope of climbing out of a 2-0 hole.

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Rivers credits Heat president Pat Riley with getting him interested in coaching, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Their relationship dates back to 1992, when Riley was coaching the Knicks and the team acquired Rivers to be its point guard. “I’ve been around some pretty good guys,” Rivers said. “But Riley, clearly, had the biggest impact. It’s not even close. I mean, I had no thoughts of coaching until I played for Pat Riley and the way he did it, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool.’”
  • The Sixers must dramatically improve their shooting to have a chance at a comeback, observes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. While Matisse Thybulle‘s defense has been valuable, Philadelphia’s offense suffers when he’s on the court, especially with Embiid unavailable. “We needed Matisse on the floor,” Rivers said. “I thought he did an excellent job overall on Tyler Herro, but now you got Matisse and [DeAndre Jordan], or Matisse and Paul [Reed] on the floor, and they’re really just playing a two-man zone off of those two guys. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
  • James Harden has been the target of a lot of criticism since arriving in Philadelphia, but he and Embiid have been incredibly efficient as a pick-and-roll combination, notes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (video link). That’s one of the factors the team will have to consider this summer as Harden becomes eligible for a four-year extension worth more than $220MM.

Hornets Notes: Hayward, Bridges, Coaching Search, Harrell, Washington

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward is a name to watch in the trade market, though injuries limit his value, according to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, who conducted a podcast with Charlotte Observer beat reporter Rod Boone.

Hayward is regarded as a “neutral asset” that the Hornets can move. However, it’s unlikely they’ll benefit much in terms of cap space if they deal the veteran, who has two years and $61.5MM remaining on his contract. One executive told Scotto they might be able to move him for two players making around $10-15MM apiece.

The Pacers are an unlikely destination after trading away Domantas Sabonis and building around younger pieces.

More highlights from the podcast:

  • Both Scotto and Boone anticipate Miles Bridges will get $25MM or more annually in restricted free agency. Scotto sees Bridges as being coveted due to his status as a young, two-way, big wing. The Trail Blazers could pursue him if they can’t trade for Jerami Grant and teams with cap space, like the Pistons, could also be a factor. Boone believes he’ll return to the Hornets due to unfinished business with an improving team. The fact that he’s close with LaMelo Ball also works in Charlotte’s favor.
  • Neither Scotto nor Boone believe Mike D’Antoni is a viable option in the search for a head coach. Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney are names to watch there. However, D’Antoni could wind up in Philadelphia if the Sixers let Doc Rivers go, according to Scotto.
  • Free agent Montrezl Harrell generally enjoyed playing with Charlotte this season and could return to the Hornets, depending upon the coaching hire. Harrell probably wouldn’t command more than the taxpayer mid-level on the open market, according to Scotto.
  • P.J. Washington, who is extension-eligible, is a movable piece and his name will pop up in trade rumors.

Sixers Notes: Reed, Heat Series, Harden, Small-Ball Lineups

Young Sixers big man Paul Reed seems enthused for his larger role with the club after serving as the team’s primary backup center behind Joel Embiid during its first round matchup against the Raptors, per Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The 6’9″ 22-year-old was selected with the No. 58 out of DePaul in 2020.

“I’ve just got to take full advantage of it and make sure that I help the team win any way I can,” Reed said during Philadelphia’s eventual 4-2 defeat of Toronto. “That’s the most important thing for me.”

Reed averaged 4.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in the Toronto series. In Game 1 against the Heat, an eventual 106-92 loss, Reed played for 13 minutes, scoring four points on 2-of-6 shooting, while pulling down nine rebounds and dishing out four assists. He also recorded a steal and a block.

He’s learning so fast and he’s a hell of a player,” fellow Sixers reserve center DeAndre Jordan, who started for Game 1 ahead of Reed, said. “So we’re going to need that from him, mistakes and all.” 

There’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Reed expressed confidence that the Sixers can defeat the Heat, regardless of their Game 1 loss in Miami, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Honestly, I think we can definitely beat this team,” Reed said. “We go out there and be more physical than them and play more aggressive. Keep them on their heels. They’re going to fold. We saw that happen in the second quarter and a little bit in the first. I think that’s one thing we realized facing this team.” Reed considers defense the club’s most imperative task in beating the Heat. “The only thing we have to worry about is locking them down every possession and getting out in transition,” he said. “Once we do that, they can’t stop us.” 
  • Considering that MVP finalist Joel Embiid will be sidelined until at least Game 3 with an orbital fracture and concussion, the Sixers clearly need 2018 MVP point guard James Harden to help carry the club’s burden on offense. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN wonders if the veteran All-Star is up to the task at this stage in his career. Shelburne notes that Harden has not scored 25 points or more across 11 straight playoff games, including Game 1. Harden struggled to create space as the focal point of Miami’s defensive attention with his All-Star center counterpart out. “They did a really good job of just boxes and elbows, showing their bodies and crowding the ball when the ball screens came,” Harden said. “But I think the shot-making is what opens up the floor for our entire team.”
  • With Embiid sidelined, the Sixers explored some smaller lineups against the Heat in Game 1, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Head coach Doc Rivers conceded that some small-ball rotations proved more effective than others. “We love Paul [Millsap], but… I don’t love the matchup with Paul and Bam Adebayo,” Rivers said. “We wanted more speed on the floor [than Jordan or Millsap], so we could do more switching. When we go zone and switch, we like Paul Reed on the floor.” Rivers went on to suggest that he likes lineups with Georges Niang or Reed at center surrounded by shooters elsewhere, but that the team struggled to secure rebounds against Miami with those players at center in the second half.

Hornets Rumors: Jordan, Kupchak, Head Coach Candidates

The decision to fire former Hornets head coach James Borrego apparently came from owner Michael Jordan, not president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. This contradicts a report last month that Kupchak was the driving force behind the move.

Sources tell Fischer that Jordan was unhappy with Charlotte’s poor defense, which fell from 16th in 2020/21 to 22nd this season. The Hornets also gave up 144 points to Indiana in last season’s play-in tournament and then 132 to Atlanta this season, both blowout losses.

The Hornets are in the early stages of their search to fill the coaching vacancy, Fischer writes. Kupchak has been mulling over candidates and is acting as though he’ll remain in charge of the team’s basketball operations even though his contract expires after the season, sources tell Fischer.

The team has discussed finding someone to eventually succeed Kupchak for years, but the Hornets want him to remain in place for at least the short term, assuming the two sides can work out their difference of opinion regarding salary, which sounds like a formality.

Prior to Adrian Wojnarowski’s report that the Hornets will interview Mike D’Antoni, Kenny Atkinson, Darvin Ham and Sean Sweeney for their head coaching job, Fischer explored some possible candidates, including D’Antoni and Atkinson.

Like the Kings, the Hornets are also searching for someone with previous head coaching experience. League sources tell Fischer that former Rockets head coach D’Antoni, Warriors assistants Mike Brown and Atkinson, and Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse are potential candidates for the opening. Brown holds previous head coaching experience with the Cavaliers and Lakers and is a finalist for Sacramento’s job, while Atkinson was Brooklyn’s lead coach from 2016-20.

Fischer notes that D’Antoni has frequently been linked to the Sixers since Daryl Morey became president of basketball operations, but the team has consistently maintained that head coach Doc Rivers and the front office are aligned on their shared vision of the future. Rivers still is still owed an additional $24MM over three years following this season, so even if Morey did want to fire him, that would be a bitter pill for Philadelphia’s ownership to swallow, Fischer observes.

Echoing a report from Marc Stein, Fischer says one more name to keep an eye on for the Hornets is Jazz coach Quin Snyder, who still has one year remaining on his contract with Utah. Synder previously worked under Kupchak’s front office as a Lakers assistant and has ties to North Carolina — he played for Duke in college and was an assistant coach there prior to becoming Missouri’s head coach.

Snyder has repeatedly been linked to the Lakers‘ opening, but several sources tell Fischer that L.A. doesn’t appeal to Utah’s head coach.