The Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach search has been focused on Tyronn Lue and Mike D’Antoni for a while, with the latter being reported as the Sixers’ top target over the last few weeks. The search has taken a turn since Doc Rivers was fired by the Los Angeles Clippers, though. Doc quickly emerged as a strong candidate, and now it looks like he’s the coach the Sixers have settled on.
Jason Dumas of KRON4 News has reported that it’s expected the Sixers will be offering Doc their head coaching job soon.
Source: Doc Rivers is currently with the Sixers brass and will watch Game 1 of the NBA Finals with them. A job offer is expected to follow soon.— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) October 1, 2020
Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer has added a couple more details since this news broke. In his recent report, Pompey noted that Lue is no longer in the running for the Sixers (Lue is a top candidate for the Clippers’ head coaching job now, and has interviews lined up with New Orleans and Houston), and that Doc really wants the job:
“Rivers talked with general manager Elton Brand during the day [Wednesday] 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.”
Pompey also mentioned the following: “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.”
Here is how I’ve ranked the Sixers’ best coaching options out of their main three candidates:
1) Tyronn Lue — primarily for his quality (and underrated) offensive creativity and tactical mind, ability to make adjustments quickly, and the character to command the respect of his team and manage star players. You can learn more about Lue from our Jackson Frank’s insightful interview with three writers who covered Lue during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
2) Mike D’Antoni — for being the most creative, experienced offensive mind of the bunch, who has shown that he can adapt his offense to suit the array of stars he’s coached over the years (LB’s Daniel Olinger looked at this in more detail). D’Antoni not necessarily being able to handle stars and egos in the same way as Lue is one reason I put the latter ahead.
3) Doc Rivers — he’s still a solid coach, and could end up having some success in Philly. But Doc doesn’t have major stand-out strengths that address where the Sixers have come up short. He doesn’t have an advantage in terms of offensive genius over Lue or D’Antoni (not that any coach can magically make this Sixers roster work before they make some trades), and Doc’s lack of adjustments in the playoffs has hurt the Clippers. Plus, the recent report from The Athletic’s Jovan Buha on Doc’s departure from L.A. brought up some concerns. Buha noted issues such as the “preferential treatment” of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, a failure to successfully manage the entire locker room, and a reluctance to develop the team’s younger players as problems that the Clippers had with Doc before they ultimately decided to move on. Of course, all teams are different. Doc might work better with the Sixers’ young stars than the Clippers. But these player management issues are still concerning. At the very least, it’s something that has to be considered if the issue of not holding stars accountable is one of the reasons that Brett Brown was fired.
Now, unless something changes, it looks like Ty Lue can be forgotten in the Sixers’ coaching search. And if the buzz about D’Antoni is dying down and Doc is surging into the lead of this race, then maybe the former Houston Rockets head coach can be forgotten at this point, too.
If an offer for Doc is expected to come soon and his interest is as strong as reports say, it won’t be long before we know who Philly’s next head coach is.
Update: Marc Stein of The New York Times has provided another update, making it clearer that Rivers has passed D’Antoni in the running for the Sixers’ job, while Lue seems to be (understandably) opting for the head coach job in L.A.
On the NBA's fast-moving coaching carousel ...— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 1, 2020
The growing belief in league circles is that Doc Rivers has swiftly supplanted Mike D'Antoni as the favorite for the Philadelphia job ...
With Ty Lue ranking as the early favorite to replace Rivers with the Clippers
It looks increasingly likely that Doc Rivers will be the Sixers’ new head coach.