Doc Rivers Reportedly Agrees with 76ers on Contract as Team's Next Head Coach

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, left, talks with head coach Doc Rivers during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 136-130. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

After a season of failure to live up to expectations, the Philadelphia 76ers found their next head coach, hiring former Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers following a "rapid courtship and negotiation," per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the two sides agreed on a five-year deal.

According to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice, Rivers will not have any front-office responsibilities as part of this deal and will instead just be the head coach.

This comes after the 76ers fired Brett Brown following their first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics. Wojnarowski noted that the sacking was "expected to be a precursor for more upheaval for the 76ers, whose senior leadership—including general manager Elton Brand—will begin exploring changes in the front-office structure."

It wasn't long until Philadelphia was connected to a number of marquee names as well, as Charania reported Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue, Villanova head coach Jay Wright and 76ers assistant coach Ime Udoka were "among [the] early candidates."

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported "Golden State Warriors associate head coach Mike Brown could be in the mix" as well. Wojnarowski noted Mike D'Antoni was also a candidate after he told the Houston Rockets he would not return.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated reported Philadelphia reached out to Rivers as well after he parted ways with the Clippers.

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Rivers emerged from that list and now faces the task of turning around the franchise following back-to-back playoff disappointments.

Philadelphia was on the shortlist of realistic NBA Finals contenders in the Eastern Conference heading into the 2018-19 campaign with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick, only to lose to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in the second round.

While the 76ers lost Butler and Redick in the ensuing offseason, they added Al Horford and re-signed Harris.

Rather than compete for a championship, though, they struggled with consistency and went 43-30 on the way to the No. 6 seed in the East. Without Simmons healthy, Philadelphia was swept by the Celtics in the first round.

Lue was not a surprising candidate in the wake of that playoff exit, as he has a championship pedigree from his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He led LeBron James and Co. to a title during the 2015-16 campaign and then helped them reach the NBA Finals the next two seasons.

Brown also has experience coaching the Cavaliers into the NBA Finals. He led Cleveland to the 2007 NBA Finals and had a 305-187 record in his six seasons there. He also coached the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011-12 and five games in 2012-13, recording a 42-29 record.

Rivers is also a veteran leader who has won a championship during an impressive career.

Yet it was Wright who was arguably the most intriguing candidate seeing how he has never coached at the NBA level despite a successful collegiate career, though he quickly took himself out of the running.

He went 122-85 with two NCAA tournament appearances in seven seasons at Hofstra and then took over Villanova prior to the 2001-02 campaign. He is 472-182 with the Wildcats and has a resume that includes two national titles, three Final Fours, two Naismith Coach of the Year awards and six Big East Coach of the Year awards.

However, it will be Rivers tasked with leading the 76ers past the second round of the playoffs for the first time since they reached the 2001 NBA Finals.

Doing so will require figuring out ways to maximize the Simmons-Embiid combination while finding the right pieces to fit around them in crunch-time rotations. Brett Brown was unable to fully do that during the 2019-20 season, and it will be quite the challenge for the team's new coach.

Rivers worked with a notable combination last season with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the Clippers, but, like Philadelphia, was unable to get over the hump in the playoffs. Those Clippers blew a 3-1 lead in the second round to the Denver Nuggets, failing to live up to massive expectations.

Both Rivers and the 76ers will look to change things with this new partnership.