By Teddy Brenner
Doc Rivers was in Philly yesterday to meet with the Sixers owners and GM Elton Brand.
And he stayed to watch the Lakers-Heat game 1 last night and had dinner.
So, unless Josh Harris and David Blitzer totally screwed it up they have a new coach who has won one NBA title and gone to the Finals again with the dreaded Celtics.
Rivers is 58 and has a great resume and reputation.
He was relieved of his Clippers duties on Monday, so it’s all very recent, but on the surface, it feels like he would be the smarter hire than Mike D’Antoni, who needs a very particular type of team to execute the schemes he likes. This would require Brand to move a lot of pieces around this offseason to give him that team; while it feels unlikely they’d move on from the Ben Simmons-Joel Embiid pairing at this juncture, hiring D’Antoni would be a step in that direction. Rivers, on the other hand, has never made his bread through X’s and O’s.
It’s a bit simplistic to mark Rivers down as a players’ coach, but it’s pretty true. He excels at bringing teams together, playing off the underdog mentality, chip-on-their-shoulders trope that some coaches love to employ. Rivers is definitely one of those, and that probably played a factor in the Clippers’ disappointing season. They were anything but underdogs. But Rivers in Philly, where everybody in the organization has been lambasted for underachieving not just this year, but for the last few seasons? That seems perfect.
The most important item on the docket for the Sixers organization right now is trying to make the Simmons/Embiid partnership work. They’re a tough fit with overlapping strengths, but they’re also both talented enough to be perennial All-Stars and regular contenders for All-NBA and All-Defense teams just entering their primes. You don’t give up on that.
More than anything, it feels like Philly just needs a stabilizing presence somewhere in the organization. Their front-office structure is a mess and the team felt constantly on the edge of disaster in the last year or so of Brett Brown’s tenure. Rivers would provide that. This team loves to go for the home run swing (see: Tobias Harris trade and contract, Al Horford receiving $108 million to be a backup center). But sometimes you take the single and hope the runner comes around to score.
That’s what Rivers is here. He probably won’t come in and make the team championship contenders. But he can use his years of experience in juggling big personalities in high-profile situations to make the Simmons/Embiid relationship a productive one and ensure that Philly isn’t constantly at the center of the sports media news cycle for all the wrong seasons. Short of a ring, I think everyone in Philadelphia would be pretty happy about that.
Source: Doc Rivers is currently with the Sixers brass and will watch Game 1 of the NBA Finals with them. A job offer is expected to follow soon.
— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) October 1, 2020