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76ers coaching search: Doc Rivers emerges as serious candidate after productive meeting, per report

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The Philadelphia 76ers‘ search for a new coach could be coming to a close in the near future. The team met with former Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers on Wednesday, and their decision is expected to come down to Rivers or former Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. A decision could come as early as this week. 

The meeting with Rivers was reportedly very productive, per Wojnarowski, and the former Clippers coach is a serious candidate to become the next head coach of the Sixers. Philadelphia was set to select between D’Antoni and Clippers assistant Ty Lue, but then Rivers and the Clippers parted ways, and he immediately became a prime candidate for Philadelphia’s opening. Rivers appears to have jumped Lue in the eyes of Philadelphia’s front office, but Lue has also been mentioned as a potential replacement for Rivers with the Clippers. 

Philadelphia is looking for a replacement for Brett Brown who had been with the team since 2013. Over the course of his seven seasons in Philadelphia, Brown took the team from the basement to contention, but ultimately he couldn’t get them over the top. Getting swept by the rival Boston Celtics in the first round of the postseason was the final nail in the coffin for Brown’s tenure with the Sixers. 

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A previous report from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer suggested that the gig was D’Antoni’s to lose and that the Sixers would be open to making trades in order to fit his preferred style of play, which places an increased emphasis on floor spacing and transition play while virtually eliminating post play. According to that report, Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid “gave his blessing” on the hiring of D’Antoni. Embiid would reportedly be open to the idea of spending more time around the perimeter in D’Antoni’s spaced-out system. However, this report surfaced before Rivers was on the market, and his availability has changed things for the Sixers. 

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Philadelphia’s front office is familiar with D’Antoni, as he served as an assistant under Brown during the 2015-16 season. There were rumblings that Philadelphia’s front office was interested in D’Antoni as a potential coach at that time, but that interest obviously never materialized. But now that the Sixers are in the market for a new head coach, that interest has clearly been reinvigorated. Will they ultimately go with him over Rivers? We’ll find out soon enough. Either way, if the Sixers go with Rivers or D’Antoni, they will get a coach with ample postseason experience, and someone that they hope will be able to take the team to the next level. 

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