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76ers’ Doc Rivers disagrees but is the NBA’s ‘tampering’ investigation into the team correct?

Philly is quietly constructing a team to contend, but did they get this far via illegal means? Their headcoach doesn’t think so.

76ers’ Doc Rivers disagrees but is the NBA’s ‘tampering’ investigation into the team correct?
Rob FergusonUSA TODAY Sports

To the untrained eye, it would seem like the word ‘tampering’ is making the rounds in recent days. On the other hand, if you ask the 76ers coach its nothing of the sort.

76ers’ Doc Rivers pushes back on ‘tampering’ reports

As reports now indicate, the Philadelphia 76ers are currently under investigation by the NBA for potential tampering regarding the signings of James Harden, P.J. Tucker and Danuel House. Yet, Philadelphia’s coach Doc Rivers has made it clear that his team acted above board, moreover he’s pushed back on the accusations, stating that the franchise is in no way guilty.

“You handle it, because it’s not true,” Rivers said in a recent appearance. “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.” In his statement, Rivers is of course referring to Harden’s decision to turn down his $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season and instead re-sign - with a salary cut - which is subsequently one of the central sticking points in the league’s investigation.

Is there any merit to reports of 76ers ‘tampering?’

Here’s the thing, if nothing else, the Sixers were able to benefit from the increased cap space created by Harden’s move. As we now know, by choosing to take a significant salary cut, the former Houston Rockets start essentially facilitated the acquisition of Tucker and House. Regardless, Rivers has maintained that in no way was it a conscious decision and more over has stated that neither he nor the franchise were aware of what Harden would do until hours before 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.”

76ers are facing a sign of the times

One thing that’s interesting to note, is that while Rivers believes the allegation of tampering to be without reason, he does acknowledge that the situation as a whole comes as a result of the dog-eat-dog nature of the league today. “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 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.” Ultimately, Rivers like the rest of us will have to wait and see if the NBA agrees that the 76ers have done nothing wrong. Until then, watch this space.


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