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Austin Rivers Signs 2-Year Veteran Minimum Contract to Return to Rockets

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 22: Austin Rivers #25 of the Houston Rockets gestures on court against the Utah Jazz in Game Four during the first round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena on April 22, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

The Houston Rockets and combo guard Austin Rivers reached an agreement Monday on a two-year contract.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN first reported details of the deal. Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Rivers will be making $2.17 million, the veteran minimum, each season.

ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported Rivers had offers in the $5.7M mid-level range but elected to stick with the Rockets. 

"Now that the league is wide open, I just saw an opportunity," Rivers said. "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."

Rivers enjoyed a breakout season for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2017-18 when he averaged 15.1 points, 4.0 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals across 61 appearances. He also knocked down 2.2 threes per game while shooting 37.8 percent from beyond the arc.

The 26-year-old failed to match that production this past season during stints with the Washington Wizards and the Rockets.

Rivers opened the year in Washington following a June trade. He was then dealt again in December, landing with the Phoenix Suns, who waived him shortly after the swap. He signed with the Rockets a week later.

The California native averaged 8.7 points and 2.3 assists in 47 games as a role player for Houston.

Rivers ranked 44th among point guards in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus and 77th out of 81 qualifiers at the position in Player Efficiency Rating during the 2018-19 season.

Although his offensive usage dropped with the star-studded Rockets compared to last year in L.A., the Duke product told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated in January it didn't impact his mindset.

"It's the happiest I've been in my career. This is the same way I felt in L.A. That freedom, responsibility, everything's there. I can't complain one bit," Rivers said. "[...] We're all here to do our part. James [Harden] does his biggest part, and we support him and what he does. It's a great situation. I'm very, very, very happy right now."

Given those comments, it's no surprise Rivers and his representation worked to figure out a deal to keep him with the Rockets. It should allow him to remain on a team that will be at the forefront of the championship conversation for the duration of the Harden and Chris Paul era.

Rivers should operate as the first guard off the bench behind starters Paul and Eric Gordon next season.

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