76ers’ Doc Rivers Linked to Lakers Job as Approach Playoffs

Doc Rivers
March 23, 2022, Los Angeles, California, USA: Head coach, Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers questions a no-call during their NBA game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday March 23, 2022 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PI/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire) ****NO AGENTS—NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY****

76ers‘ Coach Doc Rivers has found himself in the rumor mill after a recent report connected him to a potential opening with a well-known franchise.

Doc Rivers has a very interesting history as an NBA coach. You cannot deny the impressive resume of the 23-year coaching veteran, which includes making the playoffs 17 times and winning a championship with the Boston Celtics. Rivers has even been recognized by the NBA as a top 15 coach of all-time this season, and there are few guys who have been around the NBA as long as the 60-year-old.

On the other hand, this is the same Doc Rivers who has the most losses while leading a playoff series and most game 7 losses in NBA history. He has his successes but also carries the same frustrating habits that are often critiqued by the Sixers fan base. While Rivers still has three years remaining on his contract, it appears his seat may be heating up, and there may even be interest from another team.

Writing on the Wall With 76ers?

The postseason struggles of Doc Rivers were put on full display last postseason during the second-round meltdown to the Atlanta Hawks. Ben Simmons was thrust under the bus for many of the Sixers’ issues, but Rivers was far from blameless in the series. The inability to make in-game adjustments and the stubbornness to avoid playing younger players have been themes during Doc’s tenure with Philly and throughout his entire career.

For the most part, the Philadelphia 76ers organization, led by Daryl Morey, has fully backed Doc Rivers during his tenure as a head coach. Morey has been on record praising Rivers on multiple occasions, and with good reason given their 1st place finish last season and the team exceeding expectations during Ben Simmons’ absence this year. However, there certainly is an impatience surrounding the 76ers’ postseason success with the ever-ticking prime of Joel Embiid as this motivation.

It is worth noting Joel Embiid’s comments following the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks about the mismanagement of the rotations. The MVP candidate noted how the Bucks went on a run during the minutes that Giannis was on the court and Embiid was resting. There should not be too much made about this critique, but ensuring Embiid is happy with the head coach is vital from the 76ers’ perspective, and he also is making a very valid point in the discussion.

There also was a rumor circulating last week about the frustrations with Doc Rivers’ rotations are felt internally as well. Amid the 76ers’ recent West Coast trip, it was reported by Wosny Lambre of the Ringer that many of the players are losing faith as well. Lambre joked with this unnamed player that he couldn’t pick them to make it to the finals, at which point the player said he wouldn’t pick the Sixers to make it that far either.

Linked to Lakers Job?

While it has been a somewhat turbulent season for the 76ers thus far, the situation with the LA Lakers has been far worse. The Lakers are 31-47 on the season sitting in the 11th seed in the Western Conference and 2 games out from even making the play-in tournament. When a season takes such a disastrous turn, it usually leads to some sort of organizational change, and the head coach is often the first guy to hit the chopping block. It should be no surprise that the expectation is for Frank Vogel to be fired after the season, but it was surprising to see Jake Fischer having Doc Rivers linked as the potential next head coach.

This would be a familiar location for Rivers as he coached in the very same building as the Lakers when he was the coach of the Clippers from 2014 to 2020. There will need to be some serious roster changes to make the Lakers competitive again, so it is not certain that this would even be a job that Doc would be interested in, but it is something to watch nonetheless.

This is an Offseason Issue

Regardless of what your opinion of Doc Rivers is, he is the guy in charge of pulling the strings on this 76ers team for the remainder of the season. There are just four remaining games in the regular season before the Sixers will enter the playoffs for the fifth time in Joel Embiid’s career. The addition of James Harden has provided Embiid with his best partner in his career, and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

There is plenty at stake for Doc Rivers in the playoffs, especially after last season. If there is another disappointing exit, it seems likely that coaching is the next major change that is made. There will likely be many more rumors surrounding Rivers’ security with the team as the playoffs approach, but in the meantime, the pure focus for the 76ers should be on maximizing what they have in their current team structure.