Once news broke on Thursday night that the Sixers’ courtship of Doc Rivers had led to an agreement between the parties, the opinions in the Crossing Broad Slack channel were all over the place. Here are the thoughts of the CB staff*:
Coggin: It’s….good? I guess? Despite the fact that Brand and the front office couldn’t make up their minds about Lue or D’Antoni and then collectively shrugged their shoulders to hire Doc Rivers doesn’t fill me with exuberance. He’s a top 10 coach in the league who can get a team with three surefire hall of famers over the hump to a championship victory, but who also blew a 3-1 series lead against the Nuggets when he had Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on his side. I assume Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid signed off on the hire, so that’s good. An upgrade over Brett Brown for sure.
Investor Jeff: Barely moves the needle, because the ownership and front office haven’t changed. Whoever this group of dopes picked is by definition the wrong pick.
Phil: The Sixers should have hired Becky Hammon or Dawn Staley. This is a huge missed opportunity. The energy around the franchise right now is terrible. Getting swept in a first-round playoff series by the hated Boston Celtics will do that. The Sixers addressed that reality by hiring…a guy who just blew a 3-1 series lead with a team led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Doc Rivers is an improvement over Brett Brown, but that’s the epitome of “damning with faint praise.” Bringing Rivers in under the theory that he has experience coaching superstars ignores the fact that neither Joel Embiid nor Ben Simmons is really a superstar. The coddling and cajoling Rivers is apt to do didn’t work when Brown did it; more soft treatment from another voice won’t yield different results. With this roster as constructed, there probably isn’t a path to contending for a championship anyway. So the right move would have been to make history by hiring the league’s first female head coach.
It would be illogical to say that neither one of them has sufficient credentials to do the job after having career assistant Brown here for as long as he was. Installing Hammon or Staley as head coach would’ve created a positive narrative for the franchise in a time where such narratives are extremely difficult to find. And by the way, there is nothing to say that either woman would do a worse job than Rivers is likely to do with this roster.
Hiring Rivers is a safe, uninspired choice from a franchise that burned many years of our fandom trying to innovate with the Process. About that, I would like my decade back.
Russ: I’ve never understood the fascination with Doc Rivers. Yes, he won an NBA Title, but in fairness that team had three future Hall of Famers. I wonder how much influence he’ll have over the construction of this roster. He served as the Clippers’ President of Basketball Operations for four seasons before he had those responsibilities stripped away by owner Steve Ballmer. His last four years with the Clippers were encouraging to some extent, though it’s fair to wonder if Rivers has benefitted more from some stacked rosters than the other way around. While his in-game adjustments have been somewhere between uninspiring and non-existent, he did oversee Lob City, the overachieving misfit squad a season ago, and manage a team with two stars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The rumors that emerged after his tenure in LA ended about treating his star players differently, causing a rift in the team, is a bit worrisome as he’ll be taking the helm of a team whose outspoken leader is a $33.5m per year third option on offense. Coincidentally, Tobias Harris played some of the best basketball of his career under Rivers. There are plenty of reasons this could work, but nearly just as many why it won’t. If it leads to the promised front office overhaul, it might be worth it for that alone.
*Kevin recused himself from reacting as he’s wrapping up settling on a home in the ‘burbs, while the Maestro could not be reached for comment.