After being fired by the Los Angeles Clippers as coach upon their Western Conference semifinals defeat despite a 3-1 series lead, Doc Rivers is now headed to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers reached an agreement on Thursday with Doc Rivers to become their latest coach to lead the Sixers to their first NBA championship since 1983, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations told the Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on Thursday on condition of anonymity because the Sixers had not formally announced the move.
Rivers replaces Brett Brown’s position, who was fired after the 76ers exited the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Sixers star player Joel Embiid tweeted welcoming the team’s new head coach: “Welcome to the city of Brotherly Love Coach @DocRivers !!!! Excited for the future and what we’re building here #PhillyForever,” Embiid tweeted.
Sixers general manager Elton Brand on Monday reached out to Rivers and with his agent, Lonnie Cooper, offering interest in the Sixers job.
Rivers soon was on a flight to Philadelphia, where meetings on Wednesday with Brand and owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer had the sides moving quickly toward negotiating a multiyear deal.
The 76ers were 43-30 this season and was expected as serious title contenders in the East, but Ben Simmons missed the postseason with a knee injury, and neither Embiid nor the players brought in recent years to provide enough scoring especially in clutch situations against the Boston Celtics.
The Sixers had only crumbs of consistent success and Brown paid the price getting fired with his contract running through the next season, as he won only 47 games from his first three seasons, including a 10-72 record in 2015-16.
Brand said after he fired Brown he would evaluate the front office and to tweak for more improvement, but doesn’t plan to trade either of his two top stars.
“I’m not looking to trade Ben or Joel,” Brand said days after the season ended. “I’m looking to complement them better. They are 24 and 26 years old, respectively. You try to make that fit as long as you can. They want to be here, they want to be with our organization and I see them here for a long, long time.”
Doc Rivers spent seven seasons with the Clippers, garnering a 356-208 record, winning 63.1% of their regular-season games –the fifth-best record in the NBA and the best by any team without a conference finals appearance.
Clippers went 49-23 during this regular season, the fourth-best record in franchise history, but they squandered a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets, giving up leads of 16, 19 and 12 points as the franchise’s Western Conference finals drought reached 50 years.