It’s clear that Doc Rivers is now the leading candidate to be the 76ers' coach, and that a deal could be imminent.
A league source said that the Sixers and Rivers were working through details and that the job is his to turn down.
The former Los Angeles Clippers coach interviewed Wednesday. Sources confirmed that he watched the Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals with the Sixers brass that night.
One source said that Rivers wasn’t going to leave town without an offer. Another source said the expectation is that the Sixers will announce Rivers as their next coach. The team intended to make the coaching hire as early as Thursday.
Yet as of Thursday afternoon, he was publicly regarded as just the favorite to get the job. Mike D’Antoni, the former coach of the Houston Rockets, remains a candidate. Former Clippers assistant Ty Lue is out of the mix.
So what’s the holdup, considering there’s mutual interest? Could they be negotiating?
With the Clippers, Rivers had a say in personnel decisions.
It’s no secret that the Sixers are looking to add basketball minds to their front office. The team has said it is looking to add someone who would rank below general manager Elton Brand.
This comes after multiple league sources had said the team was inquiring about the possibility of hiring a president of basketball operations.
Could Rivers' background as a former coach/president of basketball operations change the Sixers' mind? He might have the leverage to get what he wants. He checks all the credibility boxes.
The 58-year-old was the NBA coach of the year in 2000 with the Orlando Magic. Eight years later, he led the Boston Celtics to the NBA title. Rivers is widely respected around the league and had a hand in changing the culture of the Clippers.
Los Angeles acquired him in June 2013 in a trade with the Celtics for an unprotected 2015 first-round draft pick. He was named coach of the Clippers and senior vice president of basketball operations. Rivers led the Clippers to a franchise-record 57 wins and the third seed in the Western Conference during his first season.
His toughest battle was keeping the team together after TMZ released an audiotape containing racially insensitive remarks by then-Clippers owner Donald Sterling during the first round of the 2014 playoffs.
The team promoted him to president of basketball operations/coach in June 2014. He had final say of basketball matters.
Rivers gave up his president position on in August 2017 but continued to split responsibility for basketball matters with Lawrence Frank, the executive vice president of basketball operations.
Rivers may want to have a say on his roster and decision-making, especially when he has some leverage.
The New Orleans Pelicans are also interested in him. Rivers is owed more than $18 million in the final two seasons of his Clippers contract. He could opt to sit out the next two seasons and collect his money if a deal isn’t to his liking.
Bringing in a coach of Rivers' status might require a huge investment in terms of contract, staff, and player-personnel decisions even if the job doesn’t come with a title.
Plus, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday that the league was in discussions with the six NBA teams with coaching openings to make sure they have a diverse set of candidates.
There are only four Black head coaches in the 30-team league after Rivers, Nate McMillian, and Alvin Gentry were recently fired.