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Gilbert Arenas warned former Philadelphia 76ers GM Elton Brand that hiring Doc Rivers “would ruin that team”

While Philly's struggles don't fall squarely on Rivers' shoulders, he clearly has played a part in their struggles, and the pressure is mounting for him as he enters his third season with the team
Gilbert Arenas warned former Philadelphia 76ers GM Elton Brand that hiring Doc Rivers “would ruin that team”

Rivers cannot shoulder all of the blame for the 76ers coming up short in the playoffs over his first two seasons as their head coach, but he is a big part of their postseason woes

The Doc Rivers era of the Philadelphia 76ers has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start. Despite earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference during the 2020-21 season, the Sixers got bounced in the Eastern Conference semis by the Atlanta Hawks. This season, Philly got engulfed in Ben Simmons/James Harden-related drama all season long and fell in the semis again, this time at the hands of the Miami Heat.

Rivers cannot shoulder all of the blame for the 76ers coming up short in the playoffs over his first two seasons as their head coach, but he is a big part of their postseason woes. Despite having one of the league's premier talents in Joel Embiid, Philadelphia has crashed and burned in the playoffs during Rivers' first two seasons in charge.

Arenas predicted Rivers would struggle if the 76ers hired him

Rivers is an excellent coach, but his playoff struggles throughout his head coaching career made many folks skeptical of Philadelphia hiring him over Tyronn Lue, who has a proven track record of success in the postseason. One guy who really wasn't in favor of Rivers being hired was Gilbert Arenas. In fact, Arenas told Philly's general manager at the time, Elton Brand, that Rivers would ruin the Sixers franchise if he hired him:

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"If Elton Brand ever does an interview, and he tells the truth, ask him what I said. I said when he decided to get Doc, I said Doc is going to ruin that team, and Ben Simmons is going to be out of there, because he doesn't know how to coach him." - Gilbert Arenas, fubo Sports

Nobody aside from Brand would be able to verify whether Arenas' take here is accurate or not, but if it is, he seems to have made a strikingly accurate take of Rivers' initial tenure with Philly. It's hard to argue that the Sixers are in a better spot than they were when Rivers took over, and Rivers played a big role in Simmons' departure from the team. As a result, the pressure is mounting on Philly and Rivers as he heads into his third season with the team.

Rivers needs to figure out how to get the 76ers to the NBA Finals

It's evident Philly's mentality right now is Finals or bust. With Embiid leading the way, they will have a shot to win any game he plays in. They have talent around him in Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris, so they should be able to win in the playoffs more often than they have.

You can't fault Rivers for the Sixers' ever-changing roster, and that Harden trade isn't looking great right now, but he played a part in Simmons forcing his way off the team. Simmons' struggles in their 2021 playoff series against the Hawks enraged the entire city of Philadelphia, and he didn't get much help from Rivers. You can't argue with Arenas saying Rivers didn't know how to coach Simmons, as Simmons had the worst season of his career under Rivers and was promptly ostracized from the team.

Rivers got Harden added to his roster but couldn't figure out how to incorporate him into Philly's offense. Harden was unbelievably passive during his time with the Sixers, and his inability to get involved on offense is a big reason the Heat were able to send them packing in the semifinals.

This isn't to say Rivers is the overarching issue for Philadelphia, but his inability to build a winner out of a highly talented roster is concerning. Maybe Arenas was right, and Rivers is ruining the 76ers right before our eyes. It's still too early, but another lousy season could make Arenas' take seem prophetic.

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