During his two seasons as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, Rivers has done a lot for the team on the sidelines. He led them to the No. 1 seed in 2021, the team’s first since 2001, and he helped navigate muddy waters in 2021-22, winning 51 games.
However, the 76ers struggled in the playoffs. In 2021, they led by 26 at home in Game 5 before tying the Atlanta Hawks up 3-2 before they lost Game 7 at home in the series.
Then, when asked if Simmons could be a point guard on a championship team, Rivers made some comments about Ben Simmons. Rivers responded “I don’t know,” which set off a chain reaction of Simmons wanting to leave, which then led to him sticking around, and then he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets for James Harden.
As Arenas pointed out on his podcast, former NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas warned Sixers general manager Elton Brand not to hire Rivers as he noted on his podcast :
He was a failed coach before you gave him a rock star, then he won a championship and now his legacy is built on that championship. You all value championships. What did he do? After winning the championship. What did he do after that? there is nothing. What has he done since then? there is nothing. He has just as much talent. At least eight/nine years since then. He has impeccable talent on his team. What did he do with it? there is nothing. You’re just standing on that champion, I’m goin are you maxing out the players? Are you maximizing talent? That’s how I evaluate coaches. Are you maximizing? Are you putting the players in the right positions? If Elton Brand has ever been interviewed and he’s been interviewed and he’s telling the truth, just ask him. Ask him what I said. I said when he decided to sign Doc, I said Doc was going to ruin this team and Ben Simmons was going to get out of there because he didn’t know how to coach him when he hired him instead of Tyronn Lue.
Arenas points are valid. Rivers has a lot of talent to work with since the 2008 championship as he has Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Joel Embiid, Simmons and now of James Harden. However, he hasn’t reached the conference finals since 2012 with the Boston Celtics.
While Rivers has proven he can lead the team to the playoffs and be successful in the regular season, he has yet to prove he can lead the team through Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-Ray Aaron Kyle Dilemma outside of the special teams. It will be interesting to see how Rivers and the Sixers bounce back in 2022-23.
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