Austin Rivers believes in the direction that the Houston Rockets are headed.
Rivers, who agreed to re-sign with the team on a one-plus-one contract for the veteran’s minimum, told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that he had bigger offers elsewhere but turned them down to return to Houston. He also said that his goal all along was to stay with the Rockets, calling them “the team to beat.”
Austin Rivers had offers in $5.7M midlevel range but took the vet minimum from Rockets. “Now that the league is wide open, I just saw an opportunity. You can’t really put a price on happiness. The goal was to come back to Houston all along. I think we have the team to beat.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 1, 2019
The former Duke star is still only 26 years old and played well on both ends of the court last season, making his decision to accept the minimum somewhat surprising. As a team however, Houston is capped out, meaning that this was probably the only way that Rivers would have been able to stay with them.
The Rockets have had a quiet offseason so far, but retaining Rivers for pennies is a solid move to go along with the other upgrades that they are pursuing.
- Austin Rivers
The Houston Rockets were unable to celebrate their Game 3 win over the Golden State Warriors in their Western Conference semifinals Saturday right away due to their concern over a potential injury to Austin Rivers.
Rivers was leveled on a screen by Draymond Green on the play where Steph Curry blew his dunk in the final 20 seconds.
Draymond laid out Austin Rivers with a pick pic.twitter.com/eYTMX5IMdO
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) May 5, 2019
When the clock ran out on the Rockets’ 126-121 win, Rivers was down on the court and receiving attention from the team’s trainer.
Despite the scare, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said Rivers was “OK” and just thrown off by being blindsided.
MDA says Austin Rivers is ok. pic.twitter.com/7UrMTVDnob
— Dolores Ann (@doloresalozano) May 5, 2019
Rivers had 8 points and 4 rebounds in 28 minutes. He’ll have a day off to recover before Monday’s Game 4.
The Houston Rockets have found themselves in a significant hole against the Golden State Warriors after their loss in Game 2 Tuesday night, and Austin Rivers and his teammates know that the same result in Game 3 could signal the unofficial end to their season.
After Golden State hung on to win 115-109 on Tuesday, Rivers called Game 3 a “must-win.”
Austin Rivers: "Game 3 is a must-win, man. There's no other way to look at it. We have to win that game. Everybody knows that. You don't even have to know basketball to know we can't go down, 3-0."
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) May 1, 2019
As Rivers alluded to, that is obvious. Coming back from two games down against the defending champs is going to be difficult enough, but going down 3-0 would be almost impossible to overcome.
If the Rockets want to take anything from the first two games of the series, it should be that they played the Warriors tough in both games on the road. They may not have handled the aftermath of Game 1 well with the way they blamed the officials for the outcome, but they had a chance to win on Sunday and Tuesday. While returning home for two games should help, they may need to win both. Even going down 3-1 before returning to Golden State could be a death sentence.
Austin Rivers is dispelling the notion of an awkward reunion between him and Chris Paul in Houston.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, the newly-signed Rockets guard said that he had no issues with Paul and that the two worked out together over the summer, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
Austin Rivers said if he and Chris Paul had issues with one another he wouldn't be here. Said they worked out together this off season.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 24, 2018
Rivers, who was teammates with Paul on the LA Clippers for three seasons from 2015 to 2017, will provide extra backcourt depth for the Rockets with Paul currently looking at a multi-week absence due to a hamstring strain.
As for the past history between the two, the Clippers of that era were infamous for their dysfunctional locker room environment, and Paul’s exit from LA two summers ago led to some reports that he resented Rivers, among others. Rivers was quick to clear the air over those reports however, and it sounds like the two have long resolved whatever tensions they may have had in the past.
Austin Rivers appears to have found a new home after a tumultuous week.
According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Rockets have agreed to sign Rivers after he was waived by the Phoenix Suns.
Rockets reach agreement to sign guard Austin Rivers, source said.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 23, 2018
That deal is fully guaranteed, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Rivers’ deal with Rockets is guaranteed for the season, per source.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 23, 2018
Houston’s move was likely spurred by the absence of Chris Paul, who is likely out for 2-to-4 weeks. Rivers will be a valuable fill-in with some experience for a Houston team that has not performed up to expectations. Ironically, he’ll be filling in for a player that rumor has it he did not get on well with when the pair were together on the Los Angeles Clippers.
Rivers, formerly of the Washington Wizards, was traded to Phoenix last week and immediately waived. Now he lands on his feet with a team that views itself as a contender.
Austin Rivers is expected to have a very brief stay in Phoenix after he was traded from the Washington Wizards to the Suns on Saturday as part of a deal involving Kelly Oubre and Trevor Ariza, and it sounds like there are a number of teams that would like to add the veteran guard.
Shams Charania of The Athletic initially reported on Tuesday that the Memphis Grizzlies are expected to sign Rivers once the Suns cut ties with him, but it turns out they could have plenty of competition from other clubs.
Four to five other teams are still expressing interest in Rivers, sources said. No formal offer yet from Memphis, with several days until Rivers clears waivers. https://t.co/RUkLDrVqJF
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 18, 2018
Rivers is set to make $12.6 million in the last season of his contract this year, and it is unlikely that any team will want to pay him the remaining portion of that salary. The 26-year-old is averaging 7.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 23.6 minutes per game this season.
The Grizzlies were initially reported to be part of a three-team trade with the Suns and Wizards that involved Rivers, but they ended up backing out over confusion about which players they were supposed to include. It will be interesting to see if they end up with Rivers when everything is sorted out.
Austin Rivers will have a very brief stop in Phoenix after he was traded from the Washington Wizards to the Suns on Saturday as part of a deal involving Kelly Oubre and Trevor Ariza, and the veteran guard may have already found his next home.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Rivers has agreed to sign a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies when his buyout with the Suns is complete.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 18, 2018
Rivers was set to make $12.6 million in the last season of his contract this year, and it’s unclear how much Phoenix agreed to buy him out for. The Grizzlies will be the third team the 26-year-old has played for in the past year.
Rivers is averaging 7.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 23.6 minutes per game this season.