Doc Rivers accepted the 76ers’ offer to be the team’s head coach on Thursday, according to sources. Rivers will not have any front-office duties.
Earlier in the day, a league source said that the Sixers and Rivers were working through details and that the job was his to turn down.
The former Los Angeles Clippers coach interviewed Wednesday. Sources confirmed that he watched the Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals with the Sixers brass that night.
At that time, a source said that Rivers wasn’t going to leave town without an offer. Another source said the expectation is that the Sixers would announce Rivers as their next coach. The team intended to make the coaching hire as early as Thursday, which it did.
He becomes the team’s eighth head coach since Larry Brown resigned after the 2002-03 season. Rivers replaces Brett Brown, who was fired on Aug. 24 following seven seasons with the 76ers.
Rivers, 58, became a candidate for the Sixers job on Monday after being fired by the Los Angeles Clippers following a seven-season stint. He interviewed for the Sixers job on Wednesday, one day after Clippers assistant Ty Lue interviewed for the job.
He coached the Boston Celtics to their last NBA title in 2008.
Rivers has compiled a 943-681 regular-season record including stops with the Orlando Magic, Celtics and Clippers. He is two victories shy of passing Bill Fitch for 10th place on the NBA all-time wins list. With the Clippers, he had 356-206 mark, with the top winning percentage (.631) in franchise history.
As of Sunday, Lue and Mike D’Antoni, the former Houston Rockets coach, were the remaining candidates for the job. Sources said the job was D’Antoni’s to turn down, with Lue no longer in the running. Rivers’ sudden availability changed the dynamic of the coaching search.
Rivers is reuniting with forward Tobias Harris, who played parts of two seasons with the 3 before being traded to the Sixers on Feb. 6, 2019. Harris 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 and brings instant credibility to a Sixers organization marred in bad decisions. It relied too heavily on analytics during The Process and failed to live up to its lofty expectations. The Sixers dismissed Brown one day after being swept by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Brown struggled with late-game situations and with holding players accountable.
However, you can’t blame Brown for the team’s reliance on analytics, which has led to the Sixers making questionable draft picks, trades and free-agent signings.