James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers
James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Six of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals at Wells Fargo Center on May 12, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images


  • Sources report James Harden might consider leaving the Philadelphia 76ers
  • Doc Rivers remaining the head coach is believed to be Harden's biggest gripe
  • Blame cannot be solely placed on Rivers for their Game 7 failure against the Boston Celtics

The Philadelphia 76ers suffered another disappointing exit in the 2023 edition of the NBA playoffs and James Harden is believed to have turned sour on the thought of having Doc Rivers remain as head coach.

According to a report from ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the rumor mill is working overtime with regards to Harden, Rivers and the possibility that the former bolts to another franchise this offseason.

"This is the superstar pairing moving forward because James Harden can become a free agent, which means they have to decide if you want to give him a four-year contract," Shelburne said.

"That decision, from what I understand talking to people around the [Sixers], also now becomes tied to the decision about Doc Rivers because James Harden was not all that supportive of Doc Rivers in his press conference yesterday. Behind the scenes, from what I'm told, one person said to me it would be hard for me to see James wanting to come back and play for Doc again."

She later added that the decision of who stays in Philadelphia between Harden and Rivers is linked to one another so now it becomes a situation where whichever domino falls first will be the Sixers' direction moving forward.

Since winning the 2010 NBA Finals with the Boston Celtics as its head coach, the former Atlanta Hawks point guard during his playing years failed to find postseason success with the Los Angeles Clippers and now the Sixers.

Their meltdown in the 2021 postseason at the hands of, ironically, the Hawks could not entirely be blamed on him since Ben Simmons passed up on a shot that would have tied the game in the last three minutes.

Rivers can be afforded the same amount of leeway this season because Game 7 against the Celtics was a perfect storm for the wrong reasons.

Newly-crowned MVP Joel Embiid put up a lackluster performance in the do-or-die matchup, logging 15 points while going 5-of-18 from the field to go with eight rebounds and two blocks plus an unsightly four turnovers for a plus-minus of minus-28.

The same can be said for Harden, who saved the Sixers in Games 1 and 4, who only had nine points on an abysmal 3-of-11 shooting night alongside six rebounds, seven assists, and a head-scratching seven turnovers–all leading to a minus-30 on the box score.

Add those performances with Jayson Tatum exploding for 51 points, and the Sixers found themselves on the outside looking in once again.

Rivers does have some fault in his team's performance, but if his superstars are getting outplayed by tertiary pieces Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey when it matters, there arises a gray area about who deserves to be blamed or even removed from the franchise.

It is worth noting that Harden is entering the summer on a player option and can choose to decline it to be an unrestricted free agent to join any other title contender he wants.

This offseason will be the most important in the Sixers' recent history and NBA fans will closely monitor the team's moves after another disastrous season.

Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers
Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images | Michael Reaves