Sixers fire Doc Rivers after 3 seasons: What style of coach will Philadelphia be looking for?

The 76ers have fired coach Doc Rivers, the team announced Tuesday, two days after Philadelphia fell in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Celtics. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Sixers’ loss in the semifinals marked their sixth straight year of reaching the playoffs, but did not advance beyond the second round.
  • Rivers led Philadelphia to a 154-82 regular season and 20-15 playoff record in three seasons.
  • Philadelphia hasn’t reached the conference finals since 2001.

THE Athletethe instant analysis of c:

What it says about Sixers ownership

There are many reasons the Sixers decided to let go of Rivers, but the precedent with this ownership group was already there. Brett Brown had three legitimate chances to get the Joel Embiid-led Sixers past the second round of the playoffs, and when he failed to do so, he was released in 2020. After the debacle of the Game 7 of the Sixers in Boston, Rivers found himself in the same situation: 0 for 3. Reasonable minds may disagree on how much of a fault Rivers is in a series that has seen its two best players struggle in the most important moments, but he was brought to Philadelphia to take the Sixers further than they had. been. This does not happen.

There’s still a ton of uncertainty heading into the offseason, but firing the coach is still the easiest lever to pull and bringing Rivers back after three playoff extinctions was untenable. Rivers said after Game 7 that he planned to return and he still had two years left on his contract, but by then the writing was on the wall. — hofman

What Philadelphia stars said about Rivers

Asked about Rivers after the Sixers lost in Game 7, the team’s two star players gave very different answers. Embiid called Rivers “fantastic”, saying: “You look at the way he handled the whole (Ben Simmons) situation that we had a year or two ago, he kept the team afloat. He was a great leader for all of us, a great motivator.

But James Harden adopted a different tact when asked if the coach should return, saying simply: “Our relationship is going well.” It felt like a brief and revealing response at the time. With Harden looming as a free agent this summer, and potentially a flight risk to Houston, it didn’t look like Harden and Rivers would be back with the Sixers next year. Now the question is whether either of them will return to Philadelphia for the 2023-24 season. — hofman

What is Philadelphia looking for in a replacement?

It should be noted that this will be Daryl Morey’s first official coaching hire with the Sixers, as Rivers was signed just weeks before Morey officially took over as president of basketball operations during the season. whirlwind 2020 offseason. As long as Embiid is on the roster, the likeliest outcome is that the Sixers will turn to an experienced coach to try to push the roster to the top.

In the past few weeks alone, three coaches with Finals experience (Nick Nurse, Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams) have entered the coaching market. Williams was an assistant in Philadelphia under Brown. Mike D’Antoni has always been a name linked to Morey and Harden, and he had a brief stint as a Sixers assistant during one of Embiid’s redshirt years early in his career. And there are also other names with experience.

Whoever the Sixers end up hiring, they will be judged on their playoff record. Rivers’ regular season record with the Sixers was quite good, especially under some adverse circumstances. Embiid has taken his game to another level over the past three years. But in the playoffs, in the second round, when the Sixers came up against another top-notch team, they continued to fail. — hofman


Rivers, 61, was signed by Philadelphia in 2020 hoping his championship experience would help the Sixers overcome the playoff hurdles they faced under former coach Brown. Instead, these shortcomings have persisted despite significant revisions to the list.

Under Rivers, the 76ers traded Simmons to the Nets in a deal for Harden, Embiid became an MVP, Tyrese Maxey was drafted and became a reliable 20-point scorer and the team rounded out their roster with veterans such as PJ Tucker, Montrezl Harrell and Jalen McDaniels.

Since 2008, when he was coaching Boston, teams Rivers led have reached the playoffs in 15 of the past 16 seasons. But not since 2010, when the Celtics reached the NBA Finals, has a team led by Rivers gone past the second round.

Rivers resigned as Clippers coach in 2020 after the team lost in the semi-finals. The following year, under new coach Ty Lue, LA reached its first conference final in franchise history.

What they say

Morey called Rivers “one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, a future Hall of Famer and someone I respect tremendously.”

“We are grateful for all he has done over his three seasons here and thank him for the significant impact he has had on our franchise,” Morey said. “After having had a chance to reflect on our season, we decided that some changes were necessary to pursue our competitive goals for a championship.”

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(Photo: Winslow Townson/USA Today)

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