Austin Rivers, Nuggets Agree to 10-Day Contract After Release from Thunder

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2021

New York Knicks guard Austin Rivers (8) brings the ball up court in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

The Denver Nuggets announced Tuesday that they signed veteran free-agent guard Austin Rivers to a 10-day contract.

The 28-year-old became a free agent late last month when the Oklahoma City Thunder waived him after acquiring him as part of a three-team trade with the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.

The signing of Rivers comes on the heels of Nuggets star guard Jamal Murray being ruled out for the remainder of the season because of a torn ACL.

Prior to getting waived by OKC, Rivers appeared in 21 games for the Knicks this season, making two starts. He averaged 7.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 21.0 minutes per game while shooting 43.0 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range.

That has marked Rivers' worst production since the 2014-15 season, which he split between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Clippers. In 76 games that season, Rivers averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 20.6 minutes per contest.

For his NBA career, Rivers has appeared in 573 regular-season games with the Pelicans, Clippers, Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets and Knicks.

The Duke product owns career averages of 9.1 points, 2.3 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game with a field-goal percentage of .418 and three-point-shooting percentage of .349.

Rivers is only a few years removed from what was by far the most productive campaign of his career in 2017-18. In 61 games with the Clippers that season, playing under his father Doc Rivers, the 2012 first-round pick averaged 15.1 points, 4.0 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals in a career-high 33.7 minutes per game.

With Murray out for the season, Rivers could have a chance to work his way into the rotation and earn some legitimate minutes in Denver down the stretch.

Monte Morris and Facundo Campazzo will be the Nuggets' top options at point guard moving forward, but aside from them, they don't have much to speak of at the position.

Rivers is more of a combo guard than a pure point, meaning he could see some action at shooting guard as well, which is another position Denver could stand to upgrade given that the unheralded PJ Dozier is playing over 20 minutes per game.

Much of the Nuggets' success the rest of the way will depend on the play of center Nikola Jokic and forwards Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and Will Barton, but Rivers may be precisely what Denver needs to inject a little bit of life into the backcourt.