Injury Update: Rivers Hopes To Return On Road Trip

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Rowan Kavner

LOS ANGELES – Healing quickly isn’t a problem for Austin Rivers.

The 23-year-old said his body doesn’t swell up after injuries, and just days after what appeared to be a severe ankle sprain, Rivers doesn’t expect to be out long.

“I wanted to come back for the Laker game, but they’re telling me no,” Rivers said. “So I’m going to try to push it to get back then, they think Washington is more realistic. When we play Washington on the road is when they want me to be back, so we’ll see.”

The Wizards game Rivers referenced is just a week away, which is surprising considering the pain he was in after rolling the ankle at the end of the Clippers’ game Saturday in Houston. He was carried off the court by head athletic trainer Jasen Powell and Chris Paul and left the game on crutches, but the recovery is going well.

Rivers was able to walk slowly in and out of the locker room before Monday’s game against the Thunder.

“I was at the facility today for like an hour and a half,” Rivers said. “We were on the treadmill underwater just running lightly. They have an underwater treadmill, so we were using that. I don’t think it’ll be that long. I hope it won’t be.”

Rivers said it’s still tough to walk, but he feels lucky with where he’s at. He didn’t want to watch replays of the play. He thought he broke something when he rolled the ankle.

“For one, I’ve never really sprained an ankle before,” Rivers said. “I’ve had like minor ones in high school, but not in a while.”

Rivers said the shoes he was wearing don’t give much support to ankles, and he said he’s fortunate he tapes his ankles “tough.” When he returns to the court, he said he’ll switch shoes to something more mid- or high-top.

Head coach Doc Rivers said Austin is clearly young, because the night after the game, the trainers said he’d be out about two weeks. If all goes to plan, Austin expects to be back sooner.

“He’s not going to play, even though he thinks he is, in the Christmas game,” Doc Rivers said. “But he’s moving a lot better than we thought. You don’t know when, but it looks like he’ll be back sooner than later.”

The Clippers played Monday without Austin Rivers or Paul Pierce, who was given the night to rest. That meant Austin Rivers missed out on playing the head coach he had first committed to in college, back when Billy Donovan coached at Florida.

Donovan, now the head coach of the Thunder, recalled how in sixth grade Austin’s mother would drive him to Donovan’s basketball camps, and even at that age he decided to move him up to play with the varsity guys. Donovan said he built a relationship with Austin Rivers and his family, and while he felt disappointment when Austin decided to play at Duke, he understands that players need to go where they feel most comfortable.

“I always believe every kid has an opportunity and a right in their recruiting to do whatever they feel is best for themselves,” Donovan said. “I was elated when he decided to come, but I can’t be mad when he decides to look at something else.

“I was disappointed because we would’ve loved to have had him. But it was interesting, back then we had probably the two best guards in the country committed then – Brad Beal and Austin were both the same year.”

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