This is not the first time shots have been taken at Daryl Morey as he was the center of the James Harden saga that lasted several months this offseason. This time, however, is interesting due to the nature of the comments made by Austin Rivers.
Doc Rivers spent three years with the Sixers organization, compiling a record of 154-82 during the regular season.
While this record is certainly impressive, Rivers’ tenure was overshadowed by the lack of playoff success. Under his watch, the Sixers failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs including two heartbreaking Game 7 losses at the hands of the Hawks and Celtics. This lack of postseason success proved to be the final straw in the Doc Rivers era of Sixers basketball.
Doc Rivers’ inability to make adjustments in big-time situations played a huge role in the Sixers' early playoff exits. While it is true that players such as Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and James Harden underperformed when it mattered most, Rivers simply did not do enough to get the Sixers over the hump. His firing was not personal, as Austin Rivers said. It was simply time to move on after increased fan and player pressure for a change.
So far, this change has been a breath of fresh air as the Sixers are playing great team basketball under Nick Nurse.
Gone are the days of two-man pick-and-roll basketball, as the Sixers are focused on getting everyone involved which is a big step in the right direction. Doc Rivers’ system was highly predictable and this was evident in the Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Boston Celtics. His system did not allow for players such as Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and PJ Tucker to get involved as Joel Embiid and James Harden were the focal points of the offense.
Austin Rivers' comments do make complete sense and he should be applauded for his loyalty to his family. With that being said, in no way did the Sixers disrespect Rivers by firing him. It was not personal and the Sixers did not do him dirty. Perhaps his grudge against the Sixers exists due to his poor performance against the team in recent years. (Austin) Rivers’ team has won only three times in his last ten matchups against the Sixers. In three of those matchups, he made the same amount of shots as the fans in attendance did (0).
Daryl Morey has been the subject of a lot of criticism during his tenure with the Sixers as some of his moves have fallen flat. The firing of Doc Rivers did not fall flat, and it was a move that the Sixers needed to make to shape the team’s culture and identity. The team has looked great so far under Nick Nurse and time will tell if they can keep up their impressive play and make a deep postseason run.