The team announced on Monday that it was a “mutual decision that Rivers will step down” after seven seasons with the team. The move comes after a disappointing loss to the Denver Nuggets after taking a 3-1 lead in the Conference Semifinals. The team has never advanced to the Conference Finals. Rivers amassed a 356-208 regular season record with the Clippers, a winning percentage of .631, but is only 27-32 in the playoffs despite twice having immensely talented teams.
The Sixers fired their head coach Brett Brown, also after seven seasons, after they were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of this year’s NBA playoffs.
The deepest playoff run the Sixers made in Brown’s tenure came last season when the team reached the Eastern Conference semifinals, but lost on a Game 7 buzzer-beater in overtime to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors.
There’s still a strong desire to keep the franchise’s two young All-Stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons together. The Sixers plan for the new coaching staff search for ways to maximize the duo together before even entering into a discussion on potential trades.
“I’m not looking to trade Ben or Joel. I’m trying to compliment them,” Sixers GM Elton Brand said at the time. “They’re 24 and 26 and want to be here. You try to make that fit as long as possible.”
Rivers joined the Clippers in 2013 after nine seasons and a championship with the Boston Celtics. Rivers was allowed to leave his contract with the Celtics to join Los Angeles in exchange for a 2015 first round pick. The Celtics used that selection to pick RJ Hunter. Since then, the Clippers built formidable teams, first around Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan, and then this year around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Rivers was initially given the keys to the organization, joining them in a dual role of GM and coach. That experiment ended in 2016 when Lawrence Frank was named President of Basketball Operations.
The Sixers, meanwhile, are moving on from the only coach Embiid and Simmons have ever known, however their front office has been in flux as the team has tried to build around them. Brown was hired in 2013 to oversee “The Process” Sixers as Sam Hinkie tore the team down and tried to rebuild it through the draft. However, after years of intentionally building poor rosters and tanking for high draft picks, the NBA grew tired of a signature franchise winning fewer than 20 games per season.
Jerry Colangelo, and eventually his son Bryan, were tapped to take over and in the 2017-18 season, with a healthy Embiid and Simmons, the team won 52 games. However, Colangelo and his wife were caught up in a scandal where “burner” Twitter accounts were used to tweet out sensitive team information, and he stepped down following that season.
Brand took over, and last offseason made the splashy move of stealing Al Horford away from the Celtics with a four-year, $109 million deal. The move backfired, though, and this year’s Sixers team never found its footing. After a Simmons knee injury, the Sixers fell apart, and were swept.