76ers' Doc Rivers Reportedly Enters COVID-19 Protocols; Dan Burke to Be Acting HC

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 30, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers entered the NBA's health and safety protocols, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Dan Burke will take over as the team's acting head coach, beginning with Thursday's game at the Brooklyn Nets. The Sixers have won three of their last four to improve to 18-16, the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Burke was an assistant for 18 seasons with the Indiana Pacers before joining Philadelphia's staff in 2020-21 following Rivers' arrival. In November, Rivers discussed his connection with Burke through former Charlotte Hornets head coach and longtime NBA assistant Dick Harter.

"So it was an easy fit for us and you trust him," he told reporters. "You know he’s going to do the work. That’s what makes Dan so well. No one’s gonna watch more games or more preparation than him. It’s a nice guy to have on your staff."

Earlier this season, the 62-year-old led the Sixers' pregame preparations ahead of a 127-124 overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 6.

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has thrown the NBA into a state of disarray, with numerous players and coaches entering the protocols.

On Monday, the NBA and NBA Players Association agreed to amend the return-to-play protocols. Players and staffers only have to isolate for six days, down from the previous minimum of 10, if they are asymptomatic and satisfy testing guidelines.

As a result, Rivers might be eligible to return for Philadelphia's Jan. 5 matchup at the Orlando Magic.