NBA Rumor: 76ers Coaching Search

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After a rapid courtship and negotiation, Doc Rivers has reached agreement on a deal to become the next coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, sources told ESPN on Thursday. Rivers’ deal with the Sixers comes only three days after departing the LA Clippers — and returns him to the Atlantic Division where he’ll be a principal rival of the Boston Celtics, where Rivers won an NBA title in 2009 as coach.

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76ers deal with Doc Rivers 'could be imminent'

It’s clear that Doc Rivers is now the leading candidate for the 76ers’ head coaching job, and that a deal could be imminent. A league source said the Sixers and Rivers are working through details and the job is his to turn down. The former Los Angeles Clippers coach interviewed on Wednesday. Sources confirmed that he watched the Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals with the Sixers owners that night.

So what’s the holdup, considering there’s mutual interest on both sides? 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 for an addition that 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.

Sixers to interview Tyronn Lue on Tuesday

Lue is scheduled to interview for the job on Tuesday, according to multiple sources. One has to wonder if he thinks his meeting could just be a formality and/or insurance in case former Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, whose job it is to lose, doesn’t accept the job. Back on Aug. 25, the day after Brett Brown was fired, Lue was the prime candidate. He and the Sixers had mutual interest. The thought was that his recruitment for the job would pick up once the Clippers were eliminated from the playoffs.

But it’s hard to criticize the Sixers for not hiring a qualified Black coach when, in fact, Brand, the person publicly in charge of leading the decision, is another Black male. Yet, as first noted Wednesday, this coaching search has been eye-opening for several league sources. The sources have said it’s hard to tell who’s in charge because of ownership’s earlier-than-expected involvement. Sources have been saying for weeks that the job is D’Antoni’s to turn down. They say he’s the guy the ownership group wants. One source even said the 69-year-old would have to bomb his interview with the Sixers owners not to be offered the job.

Now, word is leaking out that Brand is pushing hard for the Sixers to hire D’Antoni and that Embiid gave his blessing. According to multiple sources, Embiid is happy that he’ll face the basket instead of posting up in D’Antoni’s proposed five-out system. D’Antoni’s plan is to move Tobias Harris back to power forward. The Sixers will also make trades if he’s hired, according to reports. The expectation is that he’ll have a say in picking players for his freewheeling style of play.

Question: Any chance of getting Dawn Staley as the coach? — Deirdre Childress Hopkins from Facebook. Answer: First off, it’s great to hear from you, Deirdre, and thanks for the question. My colleague Marcus Hayes wrote recently that the Sixers should interview Staley because of her accomplishments as a player and a coach. I would hope that if the Sixers interview her that it just wouldn’t be for public relations reasons and that they would truly be considering her. I have been on record saying that I think the Sixers need somebody with NBA head-coaching experience, who can push Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and I still think they will go that way. That doesn’t mean that somebody like Staley wouldn’t work and she would be a fascinating hire. There is always a chance the Sixers could go this route, but I don’t think it will happen.

Doc Rivers rooting for Tyronn Lue

Even as his Clippers braced to face the Nuggets in the NBA’s Western Conference semifinals beginning Thursday, Rivers sounds like he’s rooting for Lue, and happy his assistant’s name is at the top of the wish lists for the Nets. And 76ers. And whoever else. “He’s been great. He’s been great. I’m glad it is. He deserves it,” Rivers said Wednesday via Zoom. “It’s a joke that he’s not a head coach, but it’s to my advantage that he’s not.”
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