Perhaps the 76ers coaching job is no longer Mike D’Antoni’s to lose.
Former Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers interviewed for the team’s vacant head-coaching job on Wednesday. Rivers has a serious chance of becoming the next coach.
Rivers talked with general manager Elton Brand during the day and met with the team’s ownership at night. Sources have said Rivers really wants this job, and the expectation was that he would blow away the Sixers ownership group with his infectious personality.
He reportedly watched Wednesday night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers with the Sixers. KRON4 News in California reported that a job offer is expected to follow soon.
The team is expected to name a coach this week.
The meetings with Rivers follow Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue’s interview for the job on Tuesday.
As of Sunday, Lue and D’Antoni, the former Houston Rockets coach, were the remaining candidates for the job that has been open since Brett Brown was fired on Aug. 23. Sources said the job was D’Antoni’s to turn down. Lue, no longer in the running.
Then Rivers' representatives contacted the Sixers on Monday, shortly after the head coach was fired by the Clippers. His availability changes the dynamics of the Sixers' coaching search.
Rivers, if hired, would be reunited with forward Tobias Harris.
Harris played parts of two seasons with the Clippers before being traded to the Sixers on Feb. 6, 2019. He averaged a career-best 20.9 points and shot a career-best 43.4% on three-pointers in 55 games during the 2018-19 season before the trade.
Harris thrives in the pick-and-roll sets Rivers likes to run. Meanwhile, sources said Rivers is excited about the opportunity to coach a preeminent center like Joel Embiid and loves big point guards like 6-foot-10 Ben Simmons.
Rivers checks a lot of boxes for the Sixers and, like Lue, comes with an NBA-championship pedigree.
ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins gave the impression Tuesday on the Scal and Pals podcast that Rivers could be in play in Philadelphia.
“I’ve heard he’s having a lot of conversations with the Philadelphia 76ers,” said Perkins, who played 6 1/2 seasons for Rivers on the Boston Celtics. “Right now, that’s where he’s getting the most interest, and I think … he would be a great fit with them.”
The Pelicans also reached out to Rivers.
The 58-year-old former point guard compiled a 356-208 regular-season record in seven seasons with the Clippers, posting the top winning percentage (.631) in franchise history. Overall, Rivers has a 943-681 regular-season mark in 21 seasons with the Clippers, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic. He’s two victories shy of passing Bill Fitch for 10th place on the NBA all-time wins list. Rivers also led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA title.
He was let go by Los Angeles after the Clippers failed to live up to this season’s lofty expectations. They were favored to reach the Western Conference finals after the offseason acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers lost to the Denver Nuggets in the second round after holding a 3-1 lead in the best-of-the-seven series.
Lue, a close friend of Rivers and a former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, has some options.
The Clippers reached out to him Monday about being a candidate to replace Riverssources said. They added that representatives of the New Orleans Pelicans were scheduled to fly to Las Vegas for an informal meeting with Lue on Friday. He’s also scheduled to interview for the Rockets job next week.