Lure of 76ers' winning potential convinced Rivers to forego break from NBA

By Peter Hanson 6 October 2020 27
Lure of 76ers' winning potential convinced Rivers to forego break from NBA

Doc Rivers was ready to take a break from basketball but says the lure of taking over a team he feels is ready to win convinced him to take the head coach role at the Philadelphia 76ers.

Experienced coach Rivers was sacked by the Los Angeles Clippers after the team collapsed from a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Having been in that post since 2013 and leading the Clippers to the playoffs in six of seven seasons, Rivers insisted he was not just going to take on any role.

But the chance to work with a roster that includes the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons proved too big an opportunity to pass up for the 58-year-old.

"I love coaching. I absolutely love it," Rivers said on a video conference call.

"But I was not going to just coach anybody, I can tell you that. I was ready to take a break. It just depended on the team that was available and if that team in my opinion was ready to win.

"When [general manager Elton Brand] called, it was an easy 'get on the plane and take a look' for me.

"You look at these players, these young players, and their potential, the fact that they've had so much success in so many ways at the ages they are already, and where I think they can go, for me it's a job you just couldn't turn down.

"That's why I'm here. Just really excited about it."

Much like the Clippers, the 76ers fell short of lofty expectations this season and fell to a dismal 4-0 defeat to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

That led to Brett Brown losing his job and the swift appointment of Rivers, who said he is excited to work with Embiid and Simmons.

"They've won 65 per cent of the games they've played," Rivers said.

"So, it clearly works when they play together. This team is loaded with talent. We just have to figure out how to make it work the best."

One immediate issue for Rivers is to address the future of Al Horford, who struggled to mix alongside fellow big man Embiid having formerly been a rival to the 76ers with the Boston Celtics.

It has been suggested Horford, who lost his place as a regular starter, could be shipped out but Rivers said it is far too soon for him to be taking such decisions.

"I don't know that yet," he said. "I will say this, at some point they'll absolutely have to play together, but I can't tell you what my starting line-up is going to be on the first day of my job.

"I just need more time for that."

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Peter Hanson