Happy Monday, folks.
Did you see how the 76ers benefited from being patient? Not rushing to hire a coach led them to nabbing Doc Rivers, who has the second-most wins among active NBA coaches. I’m interested to see what he can do with the Sixers roster.
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— Keith Pompey (email@example.com)
Rivers says he’s excited to get going
Doc Rivers is ready. The Sixers' new head coach flew to Philadelphia on Sunday and begins his first day on the job today.
This is a quick turnaround, considering he was fired by the Los Angeles Clippers last Monday, accepted the Sixers job Thursday, and the coming season won’t begin until January at the earliest.
“I’m excited to get it going,” Rivers told Sixers.com after exiting his flight. "It’s funny when you take a new job, and you look at what the team has already and what’s in place, that’s exciting for me.
“But I want to make sure people know that I’m here to win. We have a lot of work to do, but it’s work we are willing to do.”
Rivers takes over a roster on which the key pieces don’t fit.
The Sixers finished the regular season in a disappointed sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They then were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. All this led to Brett Brown’s being fired. Philly had been one of the preseason favorites to win the NBA title.
The Sixers opted to go big in an era when most teams are going with smaller lineups and the center position is being devalued.
In addition to having spacing issues associated with their towering lineup, the Sixers find themselves in a huge financial bind. They could have $148.7 million tied up in 11 players next season, with the bulk of the money going to Tobias Harris ($34.3 million), Ben Simmons ($30.5 million), Joel Embiid ($29.5 million), and Al Horford ($27.5 million).
The problem is that the league’s salary cap could remain at its current $109.1 million or drop because of lost revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The same can be said of this season’s luxury-tax threshold of $132.6 million.
Discussing how Doc Rivers will impact Sixers' standouts | Podcast. Keith Pompey and 860 WWDB Heart of Sports cohost Jeff Cohen discuss how the hiring of Rivers will impact Embiid, Simmons, Harris and others.
Marc Narducci writes that former NBA coach Mike Fratello always knew that Rivers could have a future in coaching. Fratello earned his first head-coaching job during Rivers' rookie year in 1983-84. They were together for seven seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.
The Sixers' hiring of Rivers changes how people look at the team. Rivers brings a leaguewide credibility not associated with a Sixers figure since Jerry Colangelo was hired as chairman of basketball operations five years ago.
Rivers: “We are ready to do good things in Philadelphia.” “I am really excited about the opportunity to be joining a world-class franchise, a franchise whose legend inspired my nickname,” Rivers said.
How the Sixers swooped into position to hire Rivers. Mike D’Antoni would have been the 76ers' head coach if the Clippers had not fired Rivers.
Redick says Sixers erred by not bringing him back
The Sixers front office has turned into an easy target. For proof, take a glimpse at social media whenever Jimmy Butler has a solid game for the Miami Heat. Twitter is overloaded with comments from Sixers fans unhappy that the team let him go.
The belief is that the Sixers would have lived up to their preseason hype had they brought back Butler and sharpshooter JJ Redick. However, they sent Butler to the Heat in a sign-and-trade, and Redick signed a free-agent deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. You can add Redick to the people criticizing the team.
“They f—ed up not bringing me back,” Redick said recently on a podcast. “They probably realized they needed more shooting. With me in Philly, it wasn’t just about the shooting. You need people in the locker room. You need those guys.”
Passing the rock
Question: Hi Keith! Hope you and yours are safe and healthy. What are your thoughts on how Doc Rivers will sort out the existing team? Do you see him being a draw for any particular big-name players to come join The Process? — @DocMadrak on Twitter
Answer: What’s up, Doc Mad? I hope you had a great weekend. I hope you and yours are safe and healthy, too.
I would expect Rivers to try to bring in an additional ballhandler and a sharpshooter. Those are two major needs for the Sixers. As for big-name players, yes, he’s a big draw. The only problem is they don’t have the salary-cap space to add a big-name player who’s in line to get a lucrative contract. Their best bet would be to try to acquire one in a trade.