Who Are The Top Three Candidates To Replace Doc Rivers | And Could One Get Philly Over The Hump?

In the worst-kept secret in the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers fired head coach Doc Rivers on Tuesday after three seasons. Rivers failed to help the team advance past the conference semifinals, and Sunday’s embarrassing Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics sealed his fate. Now the question is who will Sixers president Daryl Morey choose to replace Doc?

“No one is safe in our business, and I get that,” Rivers said following Sunday’s season-ending loss, but added he planned to coach the team in 2023-24. He had two more years on the contract he signed when hired prior to the 2020-21 season.

Sixers owner Josh Harris and president Daryl Morey want to win a championship and believe the roster, led by reigning league MVP Joel Embiid, is good enough. They just need the right man at the helm calling the shots.

“Doc is one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, a future Hall of Famer, and someone I respect immensely. We’re grateful for all he did in his three seasons here and thank him for the important impact he made on our franchise,” Morey said. “After having the chance to reflect upon our season, we decided that certain changes are necessary to further our goals of competing for a championship.”

What Went Wrong In Philadelphia?

Reports out of Philadelphia this season said that Rivers’ message wasn’t getting through to the players. Sources tell The Shadow League that many of the players wanted a new voice.

There will be no shortage of coaches who want the opportunity to coach Embiid. The question is who does Morey want and who can sell Embiid and the roster on a style and system that will win?

Head Coaching Candidates

No. 3. Sam Cassell/Frank Vogel

Cassell played 15 seasons in the NBA, was a three-time champion, and an All-Star. He has been an assistant coach for 14 years, the last nine with Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers and Sixers.

There is certainly continuity there and he’s a voice the players trust. But he might not fit Morey’s analytical style.

Vogel has been a head coach for 11 years compiling a 431-389 record. His teams have made the playoffs in seven seasons, advancing to three conference finals and winning an NBA championship in 2020 as the Los Angeles Lakers head man.

A defensive minded coach who doesn’t get enough credit for his offensive input and the way he handled the Lakers’ title run.

No. 2. Nick Nurse

The former Toronto Raptors head coach won a title in 2019 and amassed a 227-163 record over five seasons up north. He’s pragmatic in his approach, which Morey will like. He famously deployed the box and 1 defensive strategy on Stephen Curry in the 2019 NBA Finals.

This past season did not go well in Toronto. Nurse had some friction with team president Masai Ujiri and wasn’t connecting with the players. Maybe a change of scenery will do him wonders?

No. 1. Mike D’Antoni

Likely the only name that matters. Morey has experienced his most success with D’Antoni as his head coach. During their four years together with the Houston Rockets the team was 217-101, they made the playoffs every year, advancing to the conference semifinals three times and conference finals in 2018. They were a Chris Paul hamstring away from defeating the mighty Golden State Warriors featuring Kevin Durant.

Morey likes D’Antoni’s coaching style, knows he will favor tons of threes and shots at the rim. Not to mention he knows how to deal with superstars and egos. Particularly James Harden, who may or may not be back next season. If D’Antoni gets the job Harden will be back, and he and Embiid will try to scale the mountain again.

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