The Philadelphia 76ers are being investigated by the NBA for potential tampering regarding their offseason signings of James Harden, P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, but coach Doc Rivers is of the opinion that the team did nothing wrong.
“You handle it, because it’s not true,” Rivers said during an appearance on ESPN’s The VC Show podcast. “Honestly, when James [Harden] did this and said this … first of all, we didn’t know what we were going to do with the money we were getting. And listen, James won, too, because James could’ve opted into a one-year deal. Instead, we gave him three years. And so both parties won in a lot of ways. Listen, it worked out for us, it worked out for James.
Harden’s decision to turn down his $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season and re-sign at a lower number is at the center of the investigation as it afforded the Sixers the cap space necessary to sign Tucker and House. But Rivers said that Philadelphia’s front office didn’t talk to Harden about doing this, and actually didn’t even know what he was going to do until a few hours prior to the deadline.
“I guarantee you [Sixers president of basketball operations] Daryl Morey had no idea what James was going to do,” Rivers said. “I remember talking to him on the eve of when James could opt in or out, and he was like, ‘We’ve got five hours left.’ I mean, that was Daryl Morey, so that tells you he had no idea… I really believed that James was not going to opt in, that he was going to try to do a longer-term deal. But I didn’t know, I can tell you that. That’s for sure.”
Though he believes the allegation to be unsubstantiated, Rivers thinks it’s the result of the competitive nature of the league, which carries from the court to the executive offices.
“You have 29 competitors against you,” he said. “There’s no doubt that some teams — especially probably the [teams] that we took players from — they’re like, ‘This is not fair.’ That’s the the way it works. I get that; I’ve been on it. When I was with the Clippers, we ended up getting Kawhi [Leonard]. The whole league was all over us about it. So it’s just the way it works, but this is a competition.”
The result of the NBA‘s investigation should be revealed in the coming weeks. At that point, we’ll find out of if the league is in agreement with Rivers that the Sixers weren’t at fault, or not.