Among those who approved of the Philadelphia 76ers hiring Nick Nurse as their new head coach were one of Nurse’s former players and Toronto Raptors star point guard Fred VanVleet, who took to Twitter to voice his support for Nurse after the Sixers’ hire.
VanVleet then gave his thoughts on the Sixers hiring his former coach on the May 30 episode of “Inside the Association.”
“It’s just a different voice that they haven’t heard before. Something outside the box. He’s gonna bring new ideas, creative ideas. It’ll be a great breath of fresh air for them. Anytime you’re changing head coaches, that’s pretty much what you’re looking for is a new identity, a new voice for the guys to rally behind.”
VanVleet added why it’s important for the Sixers to get approval from Joel Embiid on hiring Nurse.
“(They) pretty much had to get Joel onboard. I think once they got that. I think once Nick met with Joel, and as long as he’s signing off on all the crazy stuff that coach wants to do. I think that they’ll be in a good spot. I think they’ll have some success. Hopefully not too much if I’m not there, and I’m staying in Toronto then we want them to fail, but other than that, I’m happy that he landed on his feet,” VanVleet said with a smile on his face.
VanVleet made the all-star team in 2022 while Nurse coached him.
Firing Doc Rivers Does Not Mean James Harden Will Return
An Eastern Conference GM told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney that firing Doc Rivers does not ensure that Harden will stay with the Sixers.
“They fired Doc Rivers, and James might have had a hand in that,” the GM told Deveney. “Maybe that clears the way for him to come back to the Sixers. But they were going to make that move on Doc either way. So, firing Doc does not guarantee that James comes back.”
The GM added that even with Rivers’ firing, his return to the Sixers does not appear likely.
“It is a huge concern. I think the bigger surprise now would be if he DID go back to Philadelphia,” the GM said.
Now the Sixers have replaced Rivers with Nurse, which could factor into whether Harden stays with the team or not, depending on how he feels about Nurse calling the shots. One might point to Nurse winning a title with the Raptors as proof that Harden can trust him, but Rivers had also previously won a title before coming to the Sixers.
James Harden Was ‘Driving Force’ Behind Doc Rivers Firing
Two days after Rivers was fired, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported that Harden was the one who drove the Sixers to fire Rivers.
“Several members of Rivers’ staff, sources said, have pointed to All-Star point guard James Harden — whom league personnel are expecting to decline his player option in search of a long-term contract — as a driving force behind Rivers’ departure,” Fischer wrote in a story published May 18.
Although it was not confirmed if the Sixers did that to appease Harden above all else, getting rid of a coach that Harden did not like playing for could play a role in his returning to the team.