Before Frank Vogel was even fired, there were reports that Doc Rivers was one of the frontrunners to become the next Lakers head coach. He also pretty much exactly fits the description of what general manager Rob Pelinka says the team will be looking for in their next leader.
“In terms of what this team needs right now, we feel like obviously with superstars on our team we want a strong voice that is able to inspire the players to play at the highest level of competition every night,” Pelinka said. “Holding everybody from the top player on our team to the 15th man to a degree of accountability.”
Even Rivers’ biggest critics could admit that sounds a lot like his biggest strengths. But beyond the fact that Lakers fans might riot if the longtime franchise foe ends up as the next coach of the purple and gold, there is only one other problem with the persistent buzz linking the Lakers and Rivers: The current Sixers head coach told Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he isn’t a candidate for the job, and thinks the rumors connecting him to it are “unfair.”
“It just makes our job so much harder,” he said. “I think it’s so unfair. I thought the Frank Vogel thing was so unfair. We work just like you guys work. How would you like your jobs to be mentioned every day? I mean, even if it’s someone wanting to have you, it’s just not right. I hate it. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
So you’re not a candidate for that job, Doc?
“No, I’m not a candidate,” he said. “I have a job, and I am very happy in my job.”
Sielski writes that Rivers still has three years left on his current contract with the Sixers. He is also about to coach a playoff series against the Raptors this weekend. I mention all this to point out that, even if Rivers is as desperate to return to Los Angeles as some reports have suggested, this is kind of what he has to say at this point. At least publicly.
It’s also possible that even if Rivers was interested in the job, he may have been turned off by what he called the team’s “unfair” treatment of Vogel, just like Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder reportedly was.
All that noted, a lot of those concerns may be moot after the playoffs if Rivers does what he has long specialized in doing and flames out in the postseason. There has long been buzz that if Rivers loses early that Sixers president Daryl Morey could fire him and replace him with Mike D’Antoni, who was the runner-up for the job last time and has a long history with Morey. If that happens, Rivers would be both out of his contract and no longer coaching a team. At that point, I’d be skeptical he’d be so forceful about not being a candidate for the Lakers job.
But a few things would need to happen for that scenario to come into play, so for now, let’s just hope for a long Philadelphia playoff run that renders this all moot. Let’s go Sixers!