Did Doc Rivers avoid Rockets to run from his Western Conference troubles?
By Zachary Allen
After all the trouble that the Western Conference has caused Doc Rivers, it’s no surprise that he rejected the Houston Rockets.
After parting ways with the LA Clippers, Doc Rivers signed a five-year multimillion-dollar deal with the Philadelphia 76ers last Thursday. In recent reports from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Rivers was supposed to meet up with the Houston Rockets in the same week.
Smith stated the basis of Rivers’ decision was due to the age and laissez-faire play of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, but did Rivers make the decision in hopes of running away from his Western Conference troubles?
Ever since Rivers was traded to the Clippers in 2014, he guided the team back to relevancy, as he posted a record of 564-356. Even though Rivers was successful in the regular season, he struggled in the playoffs with prominent players like former Houston Rockets guards Chris Paul and Lou Williams, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George.
Although Rivers reached the playoffs six-times, he went 27-32 with the Clippers during postseason play. Rivers could never escape the Western Conference Semifinals, as he blew two 3-1 leads, losing to both the Rockets and the Denver Nuggets.
Did Rivers reject Rockets to run from the West?
With all the talented players Rivers had, he couldn’t take the Clippers to the promised land, as he missed the NBA Finals and even the Western Conference Finals. All in all, one can’t blame Rivers for bolting, as it was wise for him to walk away from his traumatizing tenure with the Clippers.
As a coach in the Eastern Conference, Rivers succeeded and won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics’ Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. Rivers’ Celtics defeated Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008, and came close to pulling off the feat a second time in 2010.
With the Boston Celtics, Rivers had a record of 416-305 and reached the Eastern Conference three times. Rivers also became Coach of the Year in 2000 with the Orlando Magic as well.
Rivers has been a true success in the East, which is probably the main reason he chose the 76ers over the Houston Rockets, in addition to the concerns over Harden and Westbrook’s age. The East has always been the easiest conference for coaches and players in the NBA, and Rivers’ coaching career has been further proof.
Rivers truly struggled in the West but blossomed in the East as a head coach. Upon consideration of his struggles in West, it was wise a decision for Rivers to choose the 76ers over the Rockets. The amount of struggles the Rockets currently have would’ve further harmed Rivers’ legacy and reputation in the West.
Hopefully things work out for Rivers, and frankly they should, as he is coaching a dominant force of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and the Philadelphia 76ers.