After succumbing to another second round playoffs defeat, Doc Rivers was fired by the 76ers and James Harden reportedly had a big hand in it.
“Several members of Rivers’ staff, sources said, have pointed to All-Star point guard James Harden — whom league personnel is expecting to decline his player option in search of a long-term contract — as a driving force behind Rivers’ departure,” Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reports.
Harden happens to have a really tight relationship with 76ers president Daryl Morey, so many think the two conspired against Rivers.
Things between Harden and Rivers were reportedly quite tense all season and after the team’s brutal Game 7 loss to Boston, Harden described his relationship with Rivers as “okay”.
Reporter: "How is your relationship with Doc [Rivers] and would you like to see him back next season?"
James Harden: "Uh, our relationship is OK." 😬pic.twitter.com/Q2QzC2SEjI
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 14, 2023
Aspects of the pair’s relationship both on and off the court caused the rift, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
“That was the vibe in the locker room and it had been that way all year, despite everyone’s best attempt at putting on a nice, happy face,” Shelburne explained. “That has been an undercurrent all year.
“There was a few team meetings I had heard about where Doc tried to say something about [Harden] going out on the road and ‘how does that look? How does it look to your teammates? If you are going to do that you gotta really show up in the game.’ There was a lot of trying to hold James accountable in certain ways.”
Philly president Morey said that league MVP and Sixers big man Joel Embiid was shocked about Rivers exit.
“[Joel Embiid] was very close with coach Rivers and, yeah, he wa shocked about the new change. It’s my job to help convince him that the new coach is someone that he’ll have a great relationship with as well.”
It seems Embiid was kept out of the loop on it, which certainly leans into the fact that Morey and Harden could have made the decision.
Harden intends to decline his $35.6 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent this summer as he wants to secure a four-year deal, B/R reports.
Philadelphia is definitely a viable option for the veteran guard, but of course, plenty of rumors are afoot.