Sixers Coach Doc Rivers Sounds Off on Future Amid Swirling Rumors

Doc Rivers

Getty Did Doc Rivers coach his last game for the Sixers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals versus Miami?

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers has three years remaining on the five-year contract he inked in 2020. Despite going 100-54 over his first two seasons, frustration from another early playoff exit has set in and the calls to fire Rivers keep growing louder.

None of them louder than from the bombastic voice of Howard Eskin. The Philly sports talker has been at odds with Rivers all year and took the championship-winning coach to task once again on Thursday night, minutes after the Sixers fell to the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Eskin wanted to know how secure Rivers felt about his job security as rumors of his dismissal – whether real or imagined – continue to gain steam around league circles.

“I don’t worry about my job, Howard. I think I do a terrific job,” Rivers said. “And if you think I don’t then you should write it because I worked my butt off to get this team here. When I first got here, no one picked us to be anywhere. And again, this year the same thing, so if that’s how anyone feels, write it. I’m going to feel secure about it.”

Eskin was seated in the front row and kept firing follow-up questions at Rivers who was in no mood to answer them. Instead, he attempted to turn the tables on the radio wrangler.

“Every time you’re wrong, should you lose your job? No,” Rivers said. “So, it’s the same thing, alright? But, listen, if you believe that, go with it. I know what I did this year and I feel very good about that. Again, if you believe that, Howard, then you just run with it.”

Later, once the cat-and-mouse game ended, Rivers hinted that his job is safe. He intends to keep building the Sixers’ foundation brick by brick until it’s covered in confetti.

“We’re not going to tear it apart. We’re going to keep building,” Rivers said. “We just got to keep going and hang in there and that’s what we do. I keep saying it, athletes and coaches they just get back up and do it over and over and over again until they get it, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

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Looking Back at a Year of Distractions

The Ben Simmons’ saga was the sad cloud hanging over the Sixers’ season all year. It threatened to poison the locker room while holding a roster spot hostage up until the All-Star Game on February 20. In the end, Rivers navigated through the sticky situation and the team earned the No. 4 seed in the East.

It wasn’t always pretty but they made it work, especially after swapping Simmons for James Harden. The Sixers went 16-8 coming out of the All-Star break and morale was high. Unfortunately, the postseason turned ugly and ended with a 4-2 series loss to the Miami Heat in the second round.

“We had a lot of distractions this year. We really did,” Rivers said. “I think when I look back on this season, not having our second-best player [Simmons] for half the year, and no one thought we would be where we were record wise, and so I think we did a hell of a job getting ourselves there. And then we get James [Harden] and we wanted to see if we had enough time to get it together and clearly, we did not. And I thought execution was a major problem, in my opinion.”

Harden Plans to Opt-In for 2022-23 Campaign

Harden has a player’s option for the 2022-23 campaign that has everyone on edge. The 2018 MVP conveniently failed to get the paperwork in on time after the trade, which caused panic at the time that he was hedging his bets in case the experiment failed.

Well, it seems as if Harden intends to return to Philly. When asked directly about his intentions to opt-in, Harden said: “I’ll be here. Whatever allows this team to grow and get better and do the things necessary to win and compete at the highest level.”

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