Austin Rivers Re-Signs
LOS ANGELES – The Clippers made it clear after the season ended they wanted to bring back both DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers.
That job is now complete, as the Clippers re-signed Rivers on Monday, just a few days after finalizing Jordan’s new deal to stay in Los Angeles.
Rivers averaged 7.1 points, two rebounds and 1.7 assists in 41 games last season for the Clippers, who received Rivers in a three-way trade midway through last season, sending Reggie Bullock to the Suns and Chris Douglas-Roberts and a 2017 second-round pick to the Celtics.
But last year’s story for Rivers was more about what he did when the regular season ended.
He put on a show more than once in the playoffs, scoring 16 points in Game 4 of the first round against the Spurs to help the Clippers win in San Antonio, and, most notably, scoring 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting to go with six rebounds in 23 minutes against the Rockets in Game 3 of the second round.
Rivers, who had never played in the postseason before last season, averaged 8.4 points on 43.8 percent shooting from the floor and 37.1 percent shooting from 3-point range in 14 playoff games.
Immediately when Rivers arrived with his new team, he knew he liked the fit.
“This is the happiest I’ve probably been in my life,” Rivers said during the season. “It feels great just to play free and not worry about a mistake or a missed shot.”
His most memorable performances in a Clippers uniform occurred in the postseason, but he had his standout moments during the regular season, as well. After missing a game with foot pain, Rivers returned Feb. 21 and scored a career-high 28 points against the Kings, going 11-of-19 from the floor and 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
Rivers scored in double digits 11 times for the Clippers during the regular season after getting traded in mid-January. Three of those double-digit scoring outputs were 20-point games, and two of those 20-point games came in March, when he averaged 8.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game for the month.
“I just love his aggressiveness on offense and his willingness to attack the ball,” Blake Griffin said during the season. “He’s a dog on the ball. He’s tough to get around.”
Rivers was a former 10th overall pick from the 2012 NBA Draft out of Duke, where he averaged 15.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in one season. He went to the Pelicans, where he played the first two and a half years of his career. The Pelicans declined Rivers’ fourth-year option, so to bring him back, the Clippers could only pay what that option would’ve been.
“His contract is tough for us because the whole league has an advantage, if you know the contractual part of him with the trade,” head coach Doc Rivers said immediately after the season ended. “We can only pay him a certain amount and everyone else can pay him whatever they want. I don't get how that's a rule in our league, but it is. It's funny, we brought this up in the competition committee a year ago, and now it's coming back at me; so it'll be his choice, obviously, what he wants to do.”
His choice was to stay, and the Clippers made that happen, as Austin Rivers became the latest Clippers player to re-sign with the team this offseason.