NBA

Doc Rivers Didn’t Wait Long After Clippers Firing to Take Over 76ers

It didn’t take long for Doc Rivers to find another head coaching job after getting canned by the Los Angeles Clippers last week.

Just a few days after leaving LA, Rivers agreed to a five-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to become their next head coach. The Sixers weren’t the only team to reach out to Rivers after his firing, but they were the only team Rivers visited last week. On Monday afternoon, Rivers revealed what swayed his decision to join the Sixers so quickly.

Doc Rivers agrees to a five-year deal with the 76ers

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In a surprising move, the Clippers fired Rivers a week and a half after falling to the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Clippers had a championship-or-bust mindset all season, so Steve Ballmer wasn’t going to let another disappointing season slide.

Rivers failed to reach the Western Conference Finals even one time during his seven-year tenure in LA. He led the Clippers to the playoffs in all but one season, but he never made it past the second round even with the breadth of talent at his disposal.

Rivers’ collapse against the Nuggets marked the second time he blew a 3-1 lead in the playoffs with the Clippers. Steve Ballmer had enough of the underachieving, so he made the drastic change to send Rivers packing.

A few days later, Rivers signed a five-year deal with the 76ers.

It took Rivers less than a week to join the Sixers after Clippers firing

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On Monday, Rivers hopped on a video conference call with reporters after being announced as the next 76ers’ head coach. Rivers spoke about how the deal came to be so quickly and what brought him to Philadelphia.

Rivers said he actually contemplated taking a break from coaching, but the Sixers’ offer was one he couldn’t refuse.

Rivers said three teams contacted him via his agent about a head coaching job after being fired by the Clippers on Monday. By Wednesday, he was already visiting the Sixers for an interview. By Thursday, he was putting ink to paper in Philadelphia.

Rivers didn’t take any other meetings with interested suitors. He knew where he wanted to be next season, so why waste any time?

Rivers chose the Sixers because he sees something special in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

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Rivers wasn’t going to return to the sidelines next season if he didn’t find a situation he absolutely loved. He’s found that in Philadelphia, and it all revolved around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

“Joel is an amazing talent,” Rivers told reporters during a Monday video conference call. “Having coached Kevin Garnett and different guys, [DeAndre Jordan], [Kendrick Perkins], just so many different levels of bigs … and, in this generation, that level has changed even more now that they’re out shooting 3s and, in some cases, even running the offenses of teams. I think Joel can do all those things. Watching him on film the last couple days is exciting, I can tell you that. I remember a game, I think it was three years ago, in L.A. that he came in and had a dominant performance. I think he is a dominant big man and will be a dominant big man for me.”

As for Simmons, Rivers said he isn’t worried about his lack of a jumper.

“Again, I’m so much more concerned about team scoring than about individual scoring,” Rivers said “Individuals can create scoring, right, and Ben has proven that he’s a guy that can create scoring whether that’s him doing it or him creating scoring for anyone else on the team. But this is what I know about Ben: He’s an All-Star, he’s an all-defensive player. Listen, he’s young. And I’m sure there are things that we’re going to work on and get him better at and get him better at attacking. But I can’t tell you yet how I’m going to do that. But I just have confidence that we can get this team to winning, and being the winner.”

Rivers clearly believes Embiid and Simmons are building blocks who can lead a team to an NBA championship, and he believes he’s the man to lead them to that lofty goal.