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Report: Lakers still holding out hope Doc Rivers becomes available as coach

Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers - Game One

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 16: Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors during Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round at Wells Fargo Center on April 16, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

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Philadelphia 76ers GM Daryl Morey sat next to Doc Rivers in a joint end-of-season press conference, and when asked if Rivers would coach the team next season he said “yes.” It was an unequivocal show of support for Rivers.

Still, the Lakers are holding out hope Rivers may become available and jump to the front of their coaching search, reports Marc Stein in his latest newsletter. Stein also said the field may still be larger than the three reported finalists for the job: Darvin Ham, Terry Stotts, and Kenny Atkinson.

One source close to the situation told me over the weekend that the list of coaches under consideration by the Lakers is “still wider” than the reported trio of Ham, Stotts and Atkinson...

Suspicions persist in league coaching circles that the Lakers have not completely abandoned hope that Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers becomes unexpectedly available — despite the recent insistence from Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey that Rivers will be back in Philly next season.

The 76ers aren’t firing Rivers (despite the wishes of a segment of 76ers fans). Might Rivers choose to walk away? He has three years, $24 million in guaranteed money still on his contract in Philadelphia, and he is not tossing that aside unless he has a guaranteed landing spot with more years and more money available. While we all know tampering never happens in the NBA (*cough*), this would be a blatant situation if Rivers quit the 76ers and then was hired by the Lakers. Coaches can be traded, but are the Lakers giving up a future first-round pick (the likely price) for a coach?

Ham appears to be the frontrunner to be the next Lakers coach and would be the best choice of the known candidates. Ham has the strong personality to command a Lakers’ locker room with LeBron James and Anthony Davis — he would be coaching them, not handling them like a Faberge egg.

But as long as the Lakers continue to slow play their coaching search, the rumors will continue.