The first domino has officially fallen. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that the Philadelphia 76ers are dismissing head coach Doc Rivers.
BREAKING: The 76ers dismissed coach Doc Rivers on Tuesday, sources tell ESPN. Rivers led the Sixers to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in each of his three seasons on the job. pic.twitter.com/WM0t4LhrAz— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 16, 2023
BREAKING: The 76ers dismissed coach Doc Rivers on Tuesday, sources tell ESPN. Rivers led the Sixers to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in each of his three seasons on the job. pic.twitter.com/WM0t4LhrAz
The Sixers confirmed the move with a press release soon after the news broke confirming Rivers’ dismissal. The release included a statement from Sixers’ president of basketball operations Daryl Morey:
“Doc is one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, a future Hall of Famer, and someone I respect immensely. We’re grateful for all he did in his three seasons here and thank him for the important impact he made on our franchise. After having the chance to reflect upon our season, we decided that certain changes are necessary to further our goals of competing for a championship.”
In three seasons coaching the Sixers, he led the team to a 153-82 record with postseason berths in each season. His tenure in Philadelphia had more positives than negatives. However, his poor postseason track record continued with the Sixers. In his coaching career, Rivers is 6-10 in Game 7s and 17-33 in playoff closeout games. The Sixers, while making the playoffs in all three years with Rivers at the helm, failed to advance past the second round in any of those seasons. Ultimately those failures resulted in his dismissal from the organization.
Wojnarowski also reported some information regarding the Sixers’ head coaching search. There is no shortage of big names available for the Sixers to potentially choose from.
The Sixers’ search for a new coach is expected to include Mike Budenholzer, Sam Cassell, Mike D’Antoni, Nick Nurse, Frank Vogel and Monty Williams, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 16, 2023
The Sixers’ search for a new coach is expected to include Mike Budenholzer, Sam Cassell, Mike D’Antoni, Nick Nurse, Frank Vogel and Monty Williams, sources tell ESPN.
Mike Budenholzer, Nick Nurse and Monty Williams all are candidates who have a lot of coaching success in recent years. Mike D’Antoni is someone to watch as well, especially considering his prior experience with both Morey and James Harden.
However, the Sixers could also promote someone from inside the organization. Sam Cassell has been an assistant coach for the Sixers since the 2020-21 season. During that time, he developed a great chemistry with young guard Tyrese Maxey. Before joining the Sixers, he was an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards from 2009-2014 and for the Los Angeles Clippers from 2014-2020. Dave Joerger is another assistant coach on the Sixers’ staff who could potentially be considered a candidate for their now vacant head coach position.
Whomever the Sixers hire will be stepping into an organization in the midst of a critical offseason. After repeated postseason failures, Rivers’ dismissal could be just the first major change to occur in the Sixers’ organization. It would be easy to scapegoat Rivers for all of this team’s shortcomings. However, the Sixers’ collapse in the second round against the Boston Celtics is largely on poor performances from throughout the roster, led by the star duo of Joel Embiid and Harden.
Harden’s future in Philadelphia is up in the air. He has a player option worth $35.6 million for next season. He will likely opt out of it in an attempt to land a big long-term extension. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported on Monday Harden’s decision in free agency will be largely impacted by whether the Sixers bring Rivers back for another season. With Rivers now gone, that could foreshadow what Harden’s decision will be in the coming months.
Getting rid of Rivers is just the opening salvo of what will surely be an interesting offseason for the Sixers.