Free-agent guard Austin Rivers looked at all of his options and decided that fatherly stability was for the best, agreeing to a two-year, $6.4 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported the news. Rivers, 22, was an unrestricted free agent this offseason after the fourth-year option in his rookie contract was declined. His new deal essentially extends him at his rookie rate; the second season of the deal is a player option.
Despite cries of nepotism upon his acquisition, Rivers actually emerged as a key bench cog in Los Angeles. He averaged 7.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game, often oscillating between brilliant and borderline unplayable. The Clippers' second-round series against Houston was perhaps the best example, as Rivers averaged 16 points a night for the first four games before shooting 6-of-23 for the final three.
“He's young and he clearly helped us, I think we all have to agree with that,” Doc Rivers said of his son, per Rowan Kavner of NBA.com. “And I think he loved it here. I even think he liked the coach at times."
While the Clippers would ideally like a more consistent player behind Chris Paul, their salary structure is too prohibitive. Retaining Rivers' Bird rights allowed them to pay him more than any other potential free agent they can add. With the team still needing a full-time backup to Blake Griffin, losing Rivers would have oddly been a disappointing blow.
Former NBA executive Bobby Marks pointed out the team's lopsided roster:
Even if Rivers continues to draw criticism—a given as he extends his player-coach relationship with his father—there really weren't many better options here. Keeping the commitment short term and relatively minimal from a salary standpoint will also help both parties decide if this is a relationship worth continuing.
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