The Philadelphia 76ers inked Doc Rivers to a five-year deal last October to be the 25th head coach in franchise history. They are committed to the one-time champion guiding them back to the promised land.
Rivers isn’t going anywhere barring a complete meltdown, like failing to make the postseason or a personal decision to step away. That hasn’t stopped the 59-year-old from receiving looks for other jobs around the league. According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Rivers’ name has surfaced on a short list of candidates to guide USA Basketball. Gregg Popovich recently completed his fifth and final year by leading the Americans to a gold medal in Tokyo. Now the exhaustive search of finding a suitable replacement has begun.
Rivers would be an incredibly appealing choice due to his experience at the 2011 Goodwill Games. He was considered for the role in 2016, too. Other coaches to watch include Erik Spolestra, Tom Thibodeau, Monty Williams, Nate McMillan, Jeff Van Gundy. One other local face to monitor is Jay Wright, the head coach at Villanova who served on Popovich’s Olympic staff this year. Hall of Famer Grant Hill will make the final decision as the new managing director for USA Basketball.
“Someone who understands and has a healthy respect for the international game,” Hill said when asked what he’s looking for. “The dynamics are a bit different in that environment than they are in the NBA regular season. You’re going to be dealing with some tough love of players, and being able to mentor them. That’ll check the boxes, if you will.”
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Climbing the NBA All-Time Wins List
Rivers doesn’t look look or act like an old man. Not at all. So it’s odd to scan the NBA’s list of all-time winningest coaches and see he’s within ear shot of the top spot. Rivers has compiled 992 career wins during his illustrious coaching career, good for 10th on the list and only 343 victories shy of Don Nelson’s No. 1 spot (1,355).
There is only one other active coach ahead of Rivers: Gregg Popovich (1,310). The Sixers’ honcho was asked about possibly ascending to the crown in a 2020 interview and predictably played it off.
“I haven’t even given that thought yet,” Rivers told Spears. “I’ve been fortunate. I guess Pop [Gregg Popovich] and I have a chance. I’ve done it with three teams now, but I’ve coached the last 21 years in a row. Even though I’ve been fired, I’ve not taken a break. By the start of this season, I was coaching again. So I haven’t had a break and I don’t want one. I love what I’m doing.”
Sixers Announce Training Camp Schedule
The Sixers announced the start of training camp on Friday. The team will hold media day with local reporters on Sept. 27 at 11 a.m. Camp runs from Sept. 28 through Oct. 3 with the first preseason game scheduled for Oct. 4 in Toronto.
The biggest question remains whether Ben Simmons will show up. The three-time All-Star is seeking a trade and may skip camp if he’s still on the roster. Meanwhile, the Sixers are expecting Simmons to play for them in 2021 (via Tom Moore) and don’t have any immediate plans to trade him. Stay tuned.