Allow the Philadelphia 76ers a day to celebrate, for coaches of Doc Rivers' caliber aren't available often. Fired Monday and hired Thursday, his brief brush with free agency was his first in 17 years, unless you count the two days that separated the final game of the Boston Celtics' 2013 season and him signing a five-year contract to stay with them. (In a rare move, Los Angeles Clippers traded for Rivers two years into that deal.)
Rivers checks a lot of boxes: Skilled tactician, inspiring leader, highly regarded manager of personalities. He will demand accountability on defense, design an offense around the strengths of his stars and relish his role as team spokesperson. The Sixers' ATOs (after-timeout plays) will be exquisite, like the sound of the word "Ubuntu" in a Philadelphia accent.
For a team that was not only disappointing but dysfunctional this season, Rivers should be an easy sell. Even former coach Brett Brown's most ardent supporters will begrudgingly admit that Philadelphia probably needed a new voice, and this one -- hoarse as it may be -- comes with gravitas, a championship ring and experience working with multi-star teams.
Selling Rivers, though, only works if he is a piece of the Sixers' offseason puzzle, not the entire jigsaw. As presently constructed, Philadelphia's roster is expensive, inelegant and oversized, like the waterfront arena the franchise wanted to build. The front office that bet big on bully ball last summer needs to find a way to either address the team's deficiencies -- playmaking, spacing, wing play -- or shed some of the salary that has the team well above the luxury-tax line. It can celebrate for real if it somehow does both.
Several years removed from the Sam Hinkie era, the Sixers are no longer flush with draft picks and possibility. They have a first-rounder and four seconds in this year's draft, but the young players whom trade partners would want (Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle) are the ones they'd surely prefer to keep. They can either offer Josh Richardson an extension, trade him or see how things go in the final year of his contract. They can either split up Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons or hope that, with an offseason of work and a more complementary supporting cast, the crown jewels of The Process will take a step forward.
It is difficult to imagine Rivers taking this job if he didn't think Philadelphia could course-correct in short order. If he connects with Embiid and Simmons and gets some help from the front office, it is not so difficult to imagine him being right. Considering how clunky the Sixers were on offense, how inconsistent they were on defense and how disconnected they looked for much of the season, there is plenty of room for improvement.
To have faith in them fully fixing this, however, you must believe that Philadelphia management has correctly assessed where things went wrong, why they went wrong and where the roster stands now. Any honest accounting of the situation must acknowledge that even a home-run coaching hire is Step 1 toward fielding a team that is more than the sum of its parts, never mind a championship contender.
If the Sixers' offseason were a basketball game, it would be mere minutes into the first quarter. They know that … right?