- Doc Rivers has agreed to a five-year deal to coach the Philadelphia 76ers.
- Rivers and the L.A. Clippers parted ways last Monday after six seasons.
- He will take over a team led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Like BIlly Donovan, Doc Rivers didn’t last long in the market.
It was just Monday when we were shocked with the announcement that Rivers had stepped down as head coach of the Clippers. Shortly after the announcement, Philadelphia 76ers GM Elton Brand reached out to Rivers and his agent Lonnie Cooper. By Wednesday, Rivers flew to Philly for a series of meetings with Brand, and owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer. A day later, Rivers signed a multi-year deal to take over from Brett Brown who was fired last August 24th.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 1, 2020
The Last Lifeline?
Rivers will be taking over a Philadelphia team that lost in the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs. The Sixers have become perennial contenders in the Eastern Conference since the arrival of Ben Simmons. However, despite making the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, they have yet to make it past the second round of the postseason.
Brand is determined to make the partnership of young superstars Simmons and Joel Embiid but after coming up short year after year, the team is considering roster changes. After their most recent playoff exit, there were talks that the Sixers might breakup their young duo. However, Rivers could be the last lifeline before making a drastic change.
The Sixers are also hoping that Rivers’ arrival will re-ignite Tobias Harris.. Before he was traded to the Sixers, Harris enjoyed his best season ever under Rivers in L.A.. The 28-year old forward averaged 20.9 points on 50% field goal shooting and 43% three-point shooting while playing under Doc Rivers. There were rumors that Harris could be let go this offseason but Rivers’ arrival may change those plans.
Rivers won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award during the 1999-2000 season, his first with the Orlando Magic. He also steered the Boston Celtics to the NBA title in 2008. The 58-year old mentor has an overall coaching record of 943-681 across 21 NBA seasons, the 11th most wins by any NBA head coach. He went 356-208 in six seasons with the Clippers. His 63.1% winning percentage in L.A. is fifth best in the NBA during that period and the best by a team without any appearance in the Conference Finals.
The Clippers went 49-23 this season, second in the Western Conference, despite adding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George during the offseason. L.A. had their fourth-best regular season ever but they blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs. Prior to the Clippers, Rivers coached in Orlando and Boston.
Rivers still had two years left in his contract with the Clippers. But after the team’s monumental collapse, heads had to roll. And while no one expected that Rivers’ would be the first, he took the blame for the debacle and perhaps it was the right time to make a change for both parties.
Most Sought After Coach
Although he blew a 3-1 lead for the third time in his coaching career, Rivers was perhaps the most sought after head coach in the market. He was a late entry in the Clippers’ selection process and the team had become increasingly focused on hiring former Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni as of late. However, the landscape changed when Rivers became available last Monday.
The Clippers also interviewed Rivers’ assistant Tyronn Lue earlier this week. But not only is Lue also being considered in the other coaching vacancies around the league, he has emerged as the solid betting favorite to replace Rivers in Los Angeles. As of 10/1/20, Lue is a -250 at BetOnline to become the next Clippers coach.
Lue is also one of the favorites in New Orleans since he and Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin have a good relationship. The two were instrumental in helping the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2016 NBA title.