The Philadelphia 76ers fired Doc Rivers this past week following his most recent disappointing playoff performance.
Despite the Sixers being up 3-2 over the Boston Celtics at one point in the second round, Rivers sat idly by as the latter group came from behind to win and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Afterward, James Harden’s assessment of his current relationship with Rivers painted a pretty clear picture of where things stood with them.
When Rivers was subsequently fired, many wondered about Harden’s real role in the situation. On Thursday, the answer merged.
According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports, the former league MVP played a pretty substantial part in how things turned out.
“Sixers president Daryl Morey shouldered responsibility for the decision to remove Rivers during a news conference Wednesday,” he wrote.
“Several members of Rivers’ staff, sources said, have pointed to All-Star point guard James Harden — whom league personnel are expecting to decline his player option in search of a long-term contract — as a driving force behind Rivers’ departure.”
One person who was very upset about Rivers getting the boot was Sixers star Joel Embiid. He wasn’t shy about expressing his displeasure.
“He was very close with coach Rivers and, yeah, he was shocked about the change,” Morey admitted this week.
“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 is unclear what it means that Philly proceeded nevertheless, despite their best player’s objections.
The Sacramento Kings continue to be as impressive as any team remaining in the NBA playoffs. https://t.co/foWBu8Yrxq
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 19, 2023
Going forward, it will be interesting to see how the dynamics unfold within the 76ers’ organization.
It almost feels like a power struggle between Embiid and Harden is occurring, and the latter has a lot more leverage right now because he is the only one who is a free agent this summer.
Will Harden still be playing for the 76ers come the start of the 2023-24 NBA season? An answer one way or the other will emerge soon enough.