Which Network is Going to Sign Doc Rivers For Broadcasting Duties?

Doc Rivers
Doc Rivers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

After the Toronto Raptors hired Darko Rajakovic over the weekend, this offseason's NBA head coaching carousel officially came to a stop. The Raptors joined the Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Houston Rockets in hiring a new head coach over the last month. The hires consist of the usual mix of veteran retreads and new minds getting their first shot at the big job. One name, however, was notably absent from the hiring cycle: Doc Rivers.

Rivers was fired by the 76ers after they got blown out in Game 7 of the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Boston Celtics. Rivers did some good work in Philly and coaxed an MVP season out of Joel Embiid, but losing in the second round for the third year in a row (and in embarrassing fashion to a longtime rival at that) wiped away all the positives to that point. There was not one obvious place for Rivers to go afterwards but most just sort of assumed he'd be in the running for one of the many head coaching jobs available after he got canned. It felt like a safe assumption, despite all the aforementioned reasons for his dismissal. Rivers has been employed as an NBA head coach for nearly two decades over three teams and he was unemployed for less than a week the last time he was a free agent coach.

But that assumption was wrong. Rivers will not be a head coach in the NBA next year. Which means he is a ripe candidate for a one-year rehabilitation stint as an analyst or broadcaster for a major network.

Rivers could step away from the game entirely for a year and think about his future but the man is the walking definition of a basketball lifer and still has a few years left to give at 61 years-old. He could go be an assistant somewhere but he's probably been atop the totem pole for too long to do that willingly. Even if he was willing teams would hesitate because they wouldn't want to overshadow the actual head coach by adding Rivers to the bench, which could happen quite easily. That leaves broadcasting as the best avenue for Rivers to keep close to the game, with the added benefits of solid compensation and an extremely light work schedule compared to the everyday grind of coaching.

Rivers also has experience in this realm, although you may be hard-pressed to remember. After he got fired by the Orlando Magic 11 games into the 2003-04 season, Rivers joined Al Michaels on the ABC broadcast for a year. That was a long time ago and it was such a short stint nobody could declare it either successful or a failure. But he wouldn't be starting from square one, which could end up being a selling point.

The real question is which network would try and scoop Rivers up. As of now there are no obvious open positions at either TNT or ESPN where Rivers could step in. The depth chart for TNT and ESPN game analysts are pretty well-stocked. Things were pretty good ratings-wise for everybody this year, so there probably won't be pressure to mix things up for the sake of it, and any significant change will be very slow to develop given this is the last year before the new TV rights deals will be struck. The formula at both networks right now works and any blunder could prove extremely costly. Rivers seems like he checks every box for a good addition, but he's not a proven quantity. The risk is inherent.

What seems most likely, barring a big name like Mark Jackson or Reggie Miller vacating their current seat, is Rivers getting hired to do some studio work. Maybe TNT nabs him to join the Inside The NBA guys when they move to two shows a week after football season to help keep everyone entertained during the doldrums of the season. Maybe ESPN decides they'd like to create something resembling an actual pregame and halftime show for 2023-24. Rivers would be almost certainly be great in those spots because it would be a half hour of getting softball question after softball question. He stays relevant and gets to share his expertise with an audience of millions. The network doesn't have to worry whether or not he can hang for a full two and a half hour broadcast.

No matter what the details are, we have not seen the last of Doc Rivers.