Doc Rivers is the next Philadelphia 76ers coach. He signed a 5-year deal only three days after his surprising “mutual agreement” to part ways with the Clippers. This is a superstar league, and it seems The Process is happy with the hire.
Doc’s presence and stature in the league, alongside his coaching record, are pointed out as the main reasons behind this hire. Embiid and Simmons are still an awkward fit, and the 76ers brass decided Rivers was the best option to lead them to a title. Another important reason for picking Rivers is the fact Tobias Harris had his best season playing for Doc in LA – the Sixers need Harris to play up to his $180 million contract.
Previous to Doc’s departure from the Clippers, Mike D’Antoni was the front runner for the Sixers job, followed by Ty Lue. D’Antoni would’ve been a weird fit, being the small ball coach with Joel Embiid on the roster. There were rumors the Sixers were letting the league know they wouldn’t hang up if you called about Embiid. No wonder he’s happy Doc’s his next coach.
Ty Lue was also in the mix, but according to Russillo and Simmons, Lue was/is asking for top dollars, and people in Philly didn’t think he was at that level yet. For reference, Pop is the league’s top-paid coach with $11 million per year. Doc was second on that list in LA with $10 million.
Will this work in Philly? From what we found out, Ballmer decided to let Rivers go because he went against all the data their analytics department had on the team. According to the data (and the eye test), Zubac was a much better option than Harrell, but Doc went with “his guys.” In addition, the locker room and team chemistry were a problem the entire year.
The 76ers suffer from similar issues. There’s no clear identity and structure; the team is often Jekyll and Hyde – for a while, they play to Embiid’s liking; for a while, it’s for Ben Simmons. If they are to develop chemistry and a system, Doc has to be willing to adapt and experiment – not just stick with “his way and his guys.”