When news broke that the Los Angeles Lakers planned on firing championship-winning head coach Frank Vogel, a, shall we say, unusual name quickly became linked to California’s premier professional basketball club: Doc Rivers… and Quin Snyder, but for the sake of this story, let’s focus on the current Philadelphia 76ers clipboard holder.
On paper, Rivers is a very Lakers-y coach. He’s a former player, a bit of a celebrity outside of the game, and already had a championship on his belt. Factor in that he’d already spent a good portion of his NBA career coaching in Tinseltown, as he was one locker room away from the Lakers at the then-Staples Center for much of the 2010s, and the prospects of bringing Rivers back to Cali felt like a natural fit.
However, there was a problem: Doc Rivers still had three years left on his contract with the Sixers. Unless Philly fired him outright, there simply wasn’t a path to bring him back to the Golden State.
… or was there? Remember, when Rivers first made his way to California, it was via trade, as the LA Clippers surrendered a 2015 first-round draft pick to the Boston Celtic for the privilege of calling Doc their head coach.
Could a similar swap occur in 2022, with the Los Angeles Lakers exchanging, say, a second-round pick for the remaining balance of Doc Rivers’ contract? I mean sure, anything is possible, but based on the reporting from both camps, I wouldn’t hold my breath, Philadelphia 76ers fans.
The Philadelphia 76ers are (probably) sticking with Doc Rivers.
According to Shams Charaniathe Los Angeles Lakers are down to three candidates for the vacant head coaching job: Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, and former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.
Objectively speaking, that’s not a bad group at all. Atkinson specifically got a bad rap on his way out of Brooklyn despite having a very good run with D’Angelo Russell as his best player and will certainly earn another opportunity sooner than later.
Would Rivers provide more star power than those coaches, maybe combined? You bet; For all of his quirks and seeming disdain for having his coaching decisions questioned by the media, Doc is a showman at heart and can be genuinely funny in low-pressure situations.
Rivers is also, fortunately or not, a much more expensive coach than the Lakers’ three finalists, which could prove to be a problem for a franchise that might be $53 million over the cap this fall with no clear path to another championship. Would the Lakers really want to pay $3-ish million more per season for Rivers than, say, Atkinson?
I sort of doubt it.
Factor in Paul Hudrick of Liberty Baller’s report that there is no truth to the rumored interest between the Lakers and Rivers, and at this point, it’s safe to call this case cold until new evidence shocks it back to life Frankenstein-style.
Look, I’d like to see the Philadelphia 76ers move on from Doc Rivers as much as the next person. His rotation is too rigid, his unwillingness to play youngsters cost the team multiple potential roleplayers last season, and unless Daryl Morey can seriously upgrade the roster this fall, it’s hard to imagine the team having such a talent advantage that they can overcome those idiosyncrasies. Unfortunately, it’s probably not going to happen, and thus it’s better to move forward with that knowledge than be bitter indefinitely, cursing at the sky for having the nerve to rain.