Doc Rivers will return as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2022-23 season, according to Daryl Morey. The Sixers’ team president gave him a resounding vote of confidence during the team’s end-of-year media availability on Friday afternoon.
The news isn’t surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to the team. Despite all the rumors tying Rivers to the vacant head-coaching job with the Los Angeles Lakers, the veteran coach – his 1,043 career wins rank 9th on the NBA’s all-time list – has the trust of the Sixers’ locker room and ownership.
Morey explained why he feels so strongly about keeping Rivers, stating that he’s the guy best suited to lead the Sixers to their first championship since 1983.
“He’s a great coach. I feel like I’m learning from him,” Morey told reporters. “I think Elton [Brand] and I and him make a great team and you know, we’re going to see where this journey takes us. But we feel very good about where it’s going to take us and it’s going to be where we have a really good chance to win a title.”
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Rivers: ‘It’s Not Guaranteed to Anybody’
Rivers was asked specifically why it has been so hard to get out of the second round of the playoffs and gave a pretty straight-forward answer: Winning is hard. That, plus a slew of injuries and off-the-court drama.
“This year was tough. We didn’t get it done obviously with all the injuries and stuff so the answers are easy,” Rivers said. “It’s hard. We’re right there. We put ourselves in the argument and that’s all you can do, and then you come back and you keep working at it until you get over the hump, but just because you want us [to win a championship] – maybe you do [reporters] and the fans definitely want us to – that doesn’t mean, ‘OK it happens.’”
Rivers continued: “Milwaukee, you look at them, it took them two to three years, to get over the mountain, they kept falling and then they did. So that’s just the way it works you know, and it’s not guaranteed to anybody. And that would be my answer.”
Sixers Plan to Bring James Harden Back, Too
The other major offseason storyline to watch involves James Harden. The 2018 MVP told reporters he planned to opt-in and return next season and do “whatever it takes” to help the Sixers win a title. The indication being that Harden may take less money on a contract extension to come back.
On Friday, Morey confirmed that he expects Harden to wear a Sixers’ uniform next year but it’s a matter of working out the financials with his representation.
“That’s the plan, is to have him back,” Morey said. “That’s been the plan since the trade. Obviously we have to work with his representation and that’ll be between us to figure out how that works.”
Harden’s opt-in is valued at $47.3 million for next season once picked up, then he’s eligible to sign a four-year, $233 million contract extension with the Sixers.