Ex-Sixers Coach Doc Rivers Sends Harsh Message to Joel Embiid

Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid

Getty Former Sixers Head coach Doc Rivers and Joel Embiid

With Doc Rivers no longer coaching the Philadelphia 76ers, he has been free to talk about his time with the team. He did just that while talking on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” on June 13, where he talked a lot about the Sixers, including his thoughts on the league’s reigning MVP, Joel Embiid.

While talking with Simmons, Rivers gave Embiid some harsh critiques as a player, believing that Embiid has a few things to improve on, starting with his health.

“Number one, he has to be healthy,” Rivers said about Embiid. “If you look at his numbers in the last three years in the playoffs, compared to his regular season numbers, they’re not very good…The first year I had him, he hurts his knee. The next year, he hits his face and tears ligaments in his hand, and then this year he has a knee injury and he was never the same once he came back this year. So health is No. 1.”

Rivers added that Embiid had to work on making his teammates better.

“Number two for Jo is he’s got to make all his players better in the playoffs,” Rivers said. “He has the ability to make his teammates better and when he does it, if you look at our games this year when he did that and dominated, hard to go away from Joel Embiid. It really is. He’s just got to do that on a consistent basis. Not just on the court, but also off the court. Just be around the guys and spend time with your guys and let them know that you love them because they love you.”

Rivers coached Embiid for three years before the Sixers fired him on May 16.

Doc Rivers Says Coaching James Harden Was ‘Challenging’

Rivers also told Simmons that it was difficult coaching James Harden because of how different their approaches were to basketball.

“It was challenging. More because we were fighting two things, and not like visually fighting. James was so good at playing one way, and the way I believe you have to play to win, in some ways, is different because it’s a lot of giving up the ball, moving the ball, and coming back to the ball,” Rivers told Simmons.

Rivers elaborated on how hard it was to coach Harden, saying the Sixers got worse when Harden tried to score more.

“At times, to get him to move and play the way I needed him to play [was challenging]. I thought the first half of the year, we were the best team in the game. I thought James was playing perfect basketball. He was a point guard of the team. He was still scoring, but he was doing more playmaking and scoring. And then the second half, he started scoring more, and I thought we got more stagnant at times.”

James Harden Going to Rocket Seen as ‘Uncertain’

ESPN’s Jeremy Woo revealed on June 14 that the Houston Rockets‘ draft decision will hinge on Harden’s decision, which rivals believe is becoming less and less certain.

“One potential factor in the decision is James Harden’s potential return to the Rockets — a situation that rival teams have come to view as increasingly uncertain in recent weeks,” Woo wrote.

This could be big news for the Sixers if their hopes are to keep him at an affordable price.