After a quick courtship and negotiation, Doc Rivers has reached an agreement to become the next coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
Rivers’ deal with the Sixers comes just three days after he parted ways with the LA Clippers. It also means he returns to the Atlantic Division, where he will be a major rival for the Boston Celtics, where Rivers won an NBA title in 2009 as a coach.
Sixers general manager Elton Brand reached out to Rivers and his agent, Lonnie Cooper, on Monday to gauge interest in the Sixers job. Rivers was soon on a flight to Philadelphia, where meetings Wednesday with Brand, owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer made the sides move quickly toward negotiating a multi-year deal.
Rivers take over a Sixers team that lost in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs and continue to consider changes to a list that Brand is still determined to construct around All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Rivers was a late entry into a process that had become more and more focused on former Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.
Rivers had been fascinated enough by the list, the marketplace, and the organization to fly from the west coast to settle down with Philadelphia’s hierarchy.
Rivers, 58, had two years left on his Clippers contract, sources said, so he still owes a significant sum of money, although there are typically set-off agreements on the payout if a coach gets hired for a new job.
In the Rivers’ seven seasons at the helm, the Clippers went 356-208, winning 63.1% of their games in the regular season – the fifth best record in the NBA and the best of any team without a conference final.
The Clippers went 49-23 during this regular season, the fourth best record in franchise history, but they squandered a 3-1 series tie in the Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets and handed over 16, 19, and 12-point leads as the franchise’s Western Conference final drought reached 50 years.
Rivers has coached five of the Clippers’ six best regular seasons, but he went 3-8 in potential playoff series with the Clippers, tied for the worst mark by a single coach with a team.
Rivers’ 943 career winner is the 11th most of a head coach of all time.
Sixers assistant coach Kevin Young also interviewed for the head coach job and made a strong impression on the organization, sources said.
The Sixers also interviewed Clippers assistant Ty Lue this week, sources say, but Lue appears to be a strong candidate to replace Rivers with the Clippers. The Clippers plan to interview other candidates who will start soon, sources say.
The New Orleans Pelicans also plan to interview Lue in the near future, sources said. Lue and Pelicans Executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin have strong ties, especially working together to win an NBA title in Cleveland in 2016.