This Is a “Make It or Break It” Season for Doc Rivers

NBA: APR 09 76ers at Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS, LA – APR 09: Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers reacts to a play against New Orleans Pelicans during a NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Philadelphia 76ers at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA on Apr 09, 2021. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)

Philadelphia 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers has not been the most beloved coach in Sixers history. While he is considered to be a “top 15 coach of all-time,” many feel he has not performed in such a manner with the Sixers organization.

There has been very little discussion of replacing Doc Rivers — save for that quick rumor about Mike D’Antoni — but there still remains a very real chance that the team will part with their Head Coach at the end of the year. This largely depends on Rivers’ postseason performance this season.

Why Doc Rivers Could Stay

Rivers and Philadelphia splitting is by no means a forgone conclusion as “winning takes care of everything.” If Doc can rally this team and organize them to the point of true competition, then he’ll likely have bought himself some time.

This Sixers team is still extremely talented, especially their starting five. It’s the bench that’s really the weak spot of the team, so if Doc is able to hide their sins and maximize the output of the team, it’s likely he remains with the Sixers going forward.

It’s not just the statistical production, though, that would have to improve. Doc Rivers would have to do what no Sixers team has done since 2001 — win.

Why He Could Go

For there to virtually be no shadow of a doubt with regards to a Doc Rivers return, the Sixers would not only have to reach the Eastern Conference Finals but not get embarrassed in said finals. If the Sixers reach the third round of the playoffs and are either swept, lose to lower competition, or, heaven forbid, blow a 3-1 series lead, there is still a sizable chance that Rivers finds himself elsewhere.

While it is the players who play the game, Doc Rivers is being paid $8 million for a reason. If there continue to be question marks surrounding his contributions to the team, it would not be surprising to see the Sixers part ways with him.

Another reason the 76ers could part with Doc Rivers this season is that Brett Brown‘s contract will finally come off the books for Philly. Brown was paid $5 million this season in what would have been the final year of his contract had he stayed with the organization. While fans called for Doc Rivers’ job as early as last season, it was extremely unlikely that the Sixers would pay a combined $13 million to Head Coaches who were not even with the team anymore.

Doc Rivers is still owed $8 million a season for the next three seasons — through 2025— so it’s possible he lasts one more year for that fact, but it is a bit more palatable if the Sixers are no longer paying Brett Brown’s salary as well.

With expectations through the roof in Philadelphia and Brett Brown’s salary finally coming off the books after the season, Doc Rivers’ future rests on his own shoulders. If he can prove his value to this organization, then he will return next year in all likelihood. However, if the Sixers see another unceremonious exit from the playoffs, expect some changes in the City of Brotherly Love.