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76ers’ Doc Rivers disagrees, but is NBA’s ‘tampering’ probe into team accurate?

To the untrained eye, the word “manipulation” seems to have been making the rounds for the past few days. On the other hand, if you ask the 76ers coach, it’s nothing like that.

76ers’ Doc Rivers denies ‘tampering’ reports

The Philadelphia 76ers are currently under investigation by the NBA over possible manipulation of the signings of James Harden, PJ Tucker and Daniel House, reports now reveal. Still, Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers has made it clear that his team acted correctly, denying the allegations and declaring that the franchise is in no way at fault.

“You deal with it because it’s not true,” Rivers said in a recent performance. “Honestly, as James [Harden] did this and said this… at first we didn’t know what we were going to do with the money we got. And listen, James also won because James could have opted for a one-year contract. Instead, we gave him three years. And so both parties won in many ways. Look, it worked for us, it worked for James. In his statement, Rivers is of course referring to Harden’s decision to decline his $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season and re-sign instead – with a pay cut – which is subsequently one of the key sticking points in the league’s investigations.

Are reports of ‘tampering’ with the ’76 justified?

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, the former start of the Houston Rockets essentially eased the acquisition of Tucker and House by opting for a significant pay cut. Separately, Rivers has maintained that it was in no way a conscious decision, and has further stated that neither he nor the franchise knew what Harden was going to 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 the night before when James was able to get on or off 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 would not choose that he would try to make a longer term deal. But I didn’t know, I can tell you that. That’s for sure.”

The 76ers are facing a sign of the times

One interesting thing is that while Rivers believes the allegations of manipulation are unfounded, he acknowledges that the situation as a whole is a result of the league’s dog-eat-dog nature today. “You have 29 competitors against you,” he said. “There is no doubt that some teams – particularly likely the [teams] that we’ve taken players – they’re like, ‘That’s not fair.’ Thats how it works. I understand that; I was there. When I was with the Clippers, we finally got Kawhi [Leonard]. The whole league was all over us because of it. That’s the way it works, but it’s a competition.” Ultimately, like the rest of us, Rivers will have to wait and see if the NBA agrees that the 76ers did nothing wrong. Until then, watch this space.

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