Rivers, who received interest from the 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans, met with Philadelphia’s ownership and general manager on Wednesday. Now, just as Mike D’Antoni seemed destined to land the job, another high-profile NBA coach could be headed to the 76ers.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Rivers is emerging as a serious candidate to become the 76ers’ next coach following his meeting on Wednesday. Despite coming into the process late, following his sudden firing in Los Angeles, Rivers’ candidacy is quickly gaining steam.
Philadelphia hasn’t yet offered him the coaching job, according to ESPN, but Philadelphia is considering its options. Before Rivers was terminated by the Clippers, the 76ers had narrowed their focus on D’Antoni. Now, both coaches are squarely on Philadelphia’s radar.
The 76ers would make a lot of sense for Rivers. He would join a stable organization that is looking to make a big change after firing Brett Brown. Similar to Los Angeles, Rivers could work with two stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, while also enjoying some surrounding talent on the roster around them.
Expectations would immediately be high for Rivers, but the resources are in place to be an immediate contender. Given the things Rivers coached the Clippers through in his tenure, including the Donald Sterling situation, handling anything the 76ers throw at him would be easy for Rivers.
Rivers is one of the most respected coaches in the NBA, with an impressive resume that features an NBA championship, Coach of the Year honors (2000) and 16 playoff appearances.
He earned his first opportunity with the Orlando Magic in 1999. Across his first four seasons in Orlando, the Magic posted a 170-158 record in the regular season but lost in the first round from 2000-03. After a 1-10 start to the 2003-04 season, he was fired by the Magic.
Rivers spent the next year working as a commentator for ABC, including calling the 2004 NBA Finals. He was then hired to become the Boston Celtics coach in 2004, slowly helping build the team into a perennial contender. He won the 2008 NBA Finals with the team’s “Big Three” in 2008, but injuries to Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and other key players derailed the team in the years to come.
After posting a 416-305 regular-season record, along with a 59-47 mark, in nine seasons with the Celtics, he was traded to Los Angeles in 2013 for a 2015 first-round pick. In seven seasons with the Clippers, the team went 356-208 in the regular season and won multiple playoff series but never reached the Western Conference Finals.
The 76ers would be hopeful that Rivers could get the team over the playoff hump that Brown never could. In addition, the organization likely views Rivers’ leadership ability and his skill for helping building his players’ confidence as key traits that might help the team take the next step.
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