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Who is next as GM in Philadelphia?

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Remember when the Colangelos — Jerry, and later Bryan — were brought in to save the Philadelphia 76ers from the leaguewide embarrassment of “The Process?”

That “embarrassing” process is now venerated and seen as the base of the Sixers success. Then on Thursday, Bryan Colangelo and the Sixers parted ways after reporting exposed his wife’s burner accounts (if you believe him, as the Sixers do) that ripped players. Those accounts caused too much damage to the organization to keep the younger Colangelo around.

So who is next as the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers? That person is stepping into a situation with a ton of potential because of star players in house — Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons — plus good role players and guys with potential (Markelle Fultz has potential, Robert Covington is a great role player), plus the No. 10 pick, and a lot of cap space. It also can be a challenging task to turn all that potential into contending reality.

Here are some guys in consideration:

David Griffin. The former Cleveland Cavaliers’ GM is all the talk around the NBA Finals as the frontrunner to land this job. The reason is twofold: 1) He has a strong relationship and the respect of LeBron James, the free agent to be who the Sixers are targeting; 2) He’s probably the best guy available even if he can’t land them LeBron. Griffin did an excellent job of clearing the cap space to bring LeBron back, managing desires of a troublesome/challenging owner, and putting a team together around LeBron that won Cleveland it’s only title in franchise history. He’s smart and well connected around the league. He was let go in Cleveland because… ask Dan Gilbert, nobody else is sure.

Gilbert will not come cheap, and after his experience in Cleveland he will want some power and leeway, but he should be the Sixers first choice and they should pay the man.

Danny Ferry. The former Atlanta Hawks GM and a current advisor to Dell Demps in New Orleans comes up because he has had conversations before with Sixers ownership about coming on board. He’s a smart, experienced GM who wants another chance in the big chair. He was let go in Atlanta after reading directly from a racially insensitive (to put it kindly) scouting report on a phone call with minority owners of the team. (He also was caught in a power struggle between the then ownership factions of that team.)

Brett Brown. Could this be another Atlanta situation? When Ferry was forced out of the Hawks’ franchise they temporarily turned everything over to then-coach Mike Budenholzer to run the show, and then ownership decided to stick with him. In Philly, Brett Brown is now in charge of basketball operations running up to the draft and free agency. If the Sixers struggle to reach a deal with an established GM such as Griffin or Ferry, Brown keeping his new title is not out of the question.

Sam Hinkie. There is a vocal majority of Sixers fans were fervent believers in Hinkie and “the process,” and in turn hated everything Colangelo did (even when it was something good, like landing J.J. Redick, or picking up Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli as buyout free agents midseason). They want Hinkie back. Philadelphia primary owner Joshua Harris was asked about this directly at his press conference Thursday and danced around the question.

“We have a lot of respect for Sam, and we appreciate how he’s positioned our franchise,” Harris said. He was very noncommittal with anything going forward, sounding mostly like a guy still stunned all of this happened in the first place. Which is a fair reaction, this whole thing is strange.

While it’s not impossible, as long as Jerry Colangelo is still in place in the organization — and he is staying — it’s hard to imagine a Hinkie return.

An up-and-comer such as Troy Weaver or Mike Zarren. It is possible Harris and the elder Colangelo decide to go with one of the top guys in the on-deck circle, someone who has paid their dues and deserves a shot in the big chair. Troy Weaver has been Sam Presti’s right-hand man in Oklahoma City, while Mike Zarren is a highly-trusted member of Danny Ainge’s staff in Boston. Both guys deserve a shot. However, with the Sixers positioned to contend if the right moves are made, it’s hard to imagine Harris and company turning to a first-time GM, no matter how good they look on paper.

 

Report: Delonte West enters rehab with help of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban with Delonte West
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Every so often, a video or picture goes viral of Delonte West – who played primarily for the Celtics and Cavaliers and whose NBA career ended with the Mavericks in 2012 – on the street appearing to be in rough shape.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban did something about it.

TMZ:

Mark Cuban is personally helping Delonte West get back on his feet … with the Dallas Mavericks owner picking up the ex-NBA star at a gas station in Texas.

We’re even told Cuban has offered to help cover Delonte’s cost for treatment.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Good for Cuban for stepping up. And hopefully West gets the help he needs.

Report: Clippers likely would’ve ousted Doc Rivers with any result shy of title

Doc Rivers and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer
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The Clippers’ loss to the Nuggets was devastating. L.A. was a huge favorite. Blowing a 3-1 lead added to the misery. As did the Clippers’ history of futility, which was supposed to end with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

But Doc Rivers’ job appeared safe in the aftermath.

Then, the Clippers suddenly ousted him as coach yesterday.

What changed?

Jovan Buha of The Athletic:

There was no aha moment or event that led to the Clippers’ and Doc Rivers’ decision to mutually part ways on Monday afternoon, league sources told The Athletic.

Following the Clippers’ premature postseason ouster, Rivers and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer held several candid meetings and conversations, league sources said.

They discussed where things went wrong for the Clippers in the playoffs and forecasted their visions of the organization’s future, including the team’s style of play, the makeup of the roster, player development and on- and off-court leadership.

After hours of back-and-forth, the sides concluded they had differing visions of the team’s path forward

Even if the Clippers had lost deeper in the postseason, say, to the Lakers in the conference finals or to the Heat in the finals, Rivers likely would not have been back next season.

Of course, the Clippers want to present themselves as having made the rational decision. Nobody wants to be the organization that overreacted to a single situation.

The Clippers’ issues – specifically a lack of chemistrymanifested throughout the season. Rivers handled that poorly. That’d be true whether or not the Clippers had enough talent to get by the Nuggets or Lakers, anyway.

Process over results is a nice ethos.

It’s difficult to implement, though.

The collapse against Denver left such a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. However people think they would’ve reacted to a different outcome, it’s impossible to know for certain. So, I have some skepticism about whether Rivers still would’ve been ousted if he guided the Clippers to the Western Conference finals and especially NBA Finals.

That said, he didn’t. Not this year. Not any year.

So, it was easier for the Clippers to move on with a coach they viewed as flawed. They never faced the difficult decision on a coach they viewed as flawed but also had more success. We just can’t know with certainty how that would’ve gone.

Doc Rivers failed to deliver in playoffs for Clippers

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers
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Listen to all the praise being heaped upon Doc Rivers – as both a coach and person – in the aftermath of his firing. He has earned that. It’s why he’s already in demand for openings around the league.

But it’s impossible to ignore his teams repeatedly falling short in the postseason.

The Clippers hired Rivers specifically for his ability to win deep in the playoffs. He guided the Celtics to the 2008 championship and back to the 2010 NBA Finals. For a downtrodden franchise like the Clippers, getting Rivers looked like a coup.

In Rivers’ seven seasons, the Clippers averaged winning 63% of their regular-season and seeding games. There have been 152 seven-year stretches that good in NBA history.

All of them produced at least five playoff-series victories.

Except the Clippers of this era.

Rivers’ Clippers won just three postseason series in seven years.

Rivers didn’t even emphasize the regular season. He often eschewed practice to keep his players fresh. And his teams still won so many regular-season games, which speaks to the Clippers’ star power.

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and  DeAndre Jordan then Kawhi Leonard and Paul George – Rivers’ teams were loaded.

They also never advanced past the second round.

Of course, that requires more context.

Beating the Warriors in the 2014 first round looks even better in hindsight, considering Golden State turned into a dynasty. The 2015 Clippers-Spurs series, which L.A. won, had no business being in the first round with teams that good. The Clippers lost in the second round to the Rockets when Josh Smith and Corey Brewer – Josh Smith and Corey Brewer! – got hot on 3-pointers. The Clippers lost to the Trail Blazers in the 2016 first round after Chris Paul and Blake Griffin got hurt. Griffin got hurt again in a first-round loss to the Jazz the next year. The Clippers overachieved just to make the 2019 playoffs.

Maybe Rivers would’ve been the right coach for the Clippers in the 2021 postseason. New issues arise, and he already proved he can coach a team to a championship. The Clippers are taking a huge risk with this move.

But this year’s historic collapse against the Nuggets reflected particularly poorly on Rivers, who has now blown three 3-1 leads as a coach. The Clippers were disjointed – an issue that lingered throughout the season. His personnel and tactical decisions were suspect.

And – perhaps most importantly – there was no track record of success in L.A. to fall back on.

The Clippers’ problems weren’t all Rivers’ fault. The timing of his ouster, after his job appeared safe, raises questions.

But it might just be this simple: Rivers was hired to win in the playoffs. He didn’t.

Report: Doc Rivers was surprised to learn Clippers were ousting him

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers
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The Clippers framed the conclusion of Doc Rivers’ coaching tenure as, “Doc Rivers Departs LA Clippers” and “Chairman Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers have reached a mutual decision that Rivers will step down as head coach of the LA Clippers.”

What really happened?

Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

people with knowledge of the situation said Rivers was surprised to learn the Clippers wanted to move on.

Internally, Rivers enjoyed support even after the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. But ultimately, the sting from yet another disappointing end to a season prompted the change.

The Clippers suffered a historic upset by blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets. In a season with legitimate championship aspirations, the Clippers fell short of even the conference finals for a record 50th straight year.

Of course, the coach was going to face scrutiny for that collapse. And Rivers deserved plenty.

But once the smoke cleared, Rivers appeared safe.

What changed?

Despite the Clippers’ initial spin, it’s becoming increasingly clear Rivers got fired. Still, many questions remain about the shocking move.