Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas has unveiled a behind-the-scenes tale of intrigue, revealing how Doc Rivers maneuvered to secure the head coaching position with the 76ers at the expense of Tyronn Lue.
During the Sixers’ search for a new head coach following the 2019-2020 season, Rivers initially lobbied for Lue, who was his assistant with the Clippers, to be hired by the 76ers.
However, circumstances took an unexpected turn when the Clippers were eliminated in the playoffs by the Nuggets, leading to Rivers’ dismissal.
In a sudden twist, Rivers promptly expressed his interest in the vacant 76ers job, ultimately securing it, despite having initially advocated for Lue.
In Arenas’ words, “And [Ty Lue] was talking about coaches, when he went with Doc [Rivers] – Tyronn Lue was supposed to have that [76ers] team. This true story. Doc sent Tyronn Lue to Philly. Lobbied for him! Lobbied for him! ‘This is your guy. This is a great coach. This is going to be good for you guys.’
“It was Game 7 Doc found out he was getting fired… so he knew he was getting fired, called Philly and said ‘I want the job now.’ … You get backdoor like that, nothing good going to happen from that.
“I said what was going to happen is he don’t know how to coach a Ben Simmons type. And city’s going to turn on Ben because you don’t know how to tap into that type of potential. You got to understand basketball to what that type of player brings.
“Doc, he’s shown in history he don’t know how that player works. And he’s going to turn on him. And once get rid of him, you might as well get rid of [Joel] Embiid and start over.”
Arenas, shedding light on the situation, expressed concerns about Rivers’ ability to coach players with specific skill sets, particularly players like Ben Simmons. He suggested that if Rivers couldn’t connect with such players, it might lead to the dismantling of the team’s core, including Joel Embiid, resulting in a rebuild.