Doc Rivers, then of the LA Clippers yells to his team during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 23, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
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Chief performance officer.
That’s the label NBA insiders give Doc Rivers after his quick move from the L.A. Clippers to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Within one week, Rivers went from L.A. to Philly, from a team a team owned by ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to another owned by Wall Street investor Josh Harris. Harris is the co-founder of private equity firm Apollo Global Management and co-owns the Sixers and New Jersey Devils with David Blitzer under the Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment company.
“Chief Performance Officer,” one NBA executive said when describing Rivers’ hire. “You have CEOs whose job is to present just message. Well, a head coach is more than just message – he’s message and results.”
The NBA executive agreed to speak to CNBC on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of discussing team business.
“It’s appropriate in this circumstance,” added former NBA executive Andy Dolich when told of the “CPO” label.
And now, Rivers is the Sixers’ new CPO. He’s in charge of a Sixers roster that failed to meet expectations last season, the chatter of discontent among star players and the finger-pointing that comes along with it.
Behind the scenes, current and former NBA executives, including the New York Knicks executive Donnie Walsh, approve of the Rivers hire.
Dolich, the former Memphis Grizzlies president of business operations, called it a “positive move” by Sixers ownership, “as long as they have the patience to deal with all the uncertainties that every NBA team is dealing with,” thanks to Covid-19.
Rivers’ new five-year contract is north of $40 million and includes incentives which trigger on team performance. If he can deliver a title for Philadelphia, the $280 million Harris and company invested in the Sixers could grow the valuation beyond its current $2 billion. But Rivers will face challenges, starting with fixing the product and making his own coaching adjustments when it matters most.
Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts in front of Chris Silva #30 of the Miami Heat in the third quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on November 23, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mitchell Leff | Getty Images
After the team departed the NBA’s bubble postseason in the first round in August, the Sixers fired Brett Brown. Sixers leadership, which includes HBSE CEO Scott O’ Neil and team general manager Elton Brand, were mystified at the team’s 31-4 home record but poor performance on the road at 12-26. As CPO, Brown paid the price.
One NBA team staffer with knowledge of the Sixers’ affairs said the…
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