Austin Rivers Opts Out of Clippers Contract: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 1, 2016

Jan 24, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers (25) dribbles down court against Toronto Raptors in the second quarter at Air Canada Centre. Raptors beat Clippers 112 - 94. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Rivers' stint with the Los Angeles Clippers may have come to an end, as the 23-year-old will not exercise his contract option for next season. 

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reported Rivers would be opting out of his deal to test free agency this summer, per ASM Sports.

Rivers is certainly trying to strike while the iron is hot. He is coming off the best year of his four NBA seasons, averaging 8.9 points and shooting 33.5 percent from three-point range off the bench. He also did some of his best work starting for an injured Chris Paul in the playoffs with a total of 34 points and 11 assists in two games against the Portland Trail Blazers. 

It's on defense that Rivers has really stood out in his professional career, as he's tenacious and routinely disruptive for opponents.

Austin Rivers' Career Defensive Stats
CategoryStat
Steals (Per 36 Minutes)1.0
Defensive Rating (Per 100 Possessions)111
Defensive Win Shares2.8
Source: Basketball-Reference.com

A standout in college at Duke, Rivers joined the Clippers midway through the 2014-15 season in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. He agreed to a two-year contract extension last summer with a player option worth $3.3 million, per Spotrac

Those numbers won't have anyone confusing Rivers for Kevin Durant this summer, but he is finally starting to scratch the surface of his talent after being selected 10th overall in 2012. 

It's also going to be a lucrative summer for free agents with the salary cap projected to be anywhere between $92 million and $111 million in 2016-17, per USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt.

The Clippers don't project to have a lot of cap space, depending on what the final number ends up being. Hoopshype projects their payroll next season to be at $97 million before Rivers opted out, the second-highest mark in the NBA behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Rivers has carved a nice niche out for himself off the bench and as a part-time starter at either point guard or shooting guard in case of injuries. He's not going to break the bank this summer, but teams are always in search of depth and quality role players with versatility. 

Add in Rivers' strong defense and age to the mix, and it should be no problem for him to find a deal that surpasses the total value of his previous contract with the Clippers. 

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