Clippers welcome Austin Rivers with ‘open arms’
The Los Angeles Clippers welcomed Austin Rivers, Friday as he will suit up for his father, head coach Doc Rivers, for the first time.
The Clippers will be part of NBA history Friday against the Cavaliers if the 22-year-old Austin Rivers checks into the game at Staples Center. A son playing for his father has never happened before in the NBA.
This is a new kind of welcome-to-the-team for the Clippers but, according to players, it will be business as usual with a new teammate, even though the story has gained national attention.
"I think that’s the danger, that you treat something differently," J.J. Redick said. "All that matters to me and all that matters to our guys in the locker room, is can he help our team win? Doesn’t matter what his last name is."
Austin Rivers, a 6-foot-4 guard, was part of a three-team trade that sent him to the Clippers on Thursday. Doc Rivers was instrumental in making that happen since he’s the coach and senior vice president of the team.
A father coaching his son has happened in other sports, but this is the first of its kind in the NBA.
— Jill Painter Lopez (@jillpainter) January 16, 2015
"Honestly, everybody we’ve ever brought in, from Stephen Jackson to "The Machine" Sasha Vujacic, whoever was here for that amount of time to CDR (Chris Douglas-Roberts) to Jordan (Farmar), whoever we brought in, it’s been with open arms," veteran guard Jamal Crawford said. "We’ll do the same thing for Austin. Obviously, it’s a different dynamic and we’re cognizant of that but we’re treating him as another player who’s coming in to help us."
The Clippers played against Austin in December when the guard played for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Redick said that during the last NBA lockout, he was working out at Duke for a week while recovering from surgery and played with Austin, who was a freshman then, so he knows him a bit.
But no one knows how this father-son thing will work out.
"I’ve never seen it so I would have to honestly experience it to go through it to give you an honest answer. I never played on an AAU team with father-son, so I honestly don’t know," Crawford said.
There is plenty of change here and Austin was brought in to help with the lackluster bunch. He’s expected to provide minutes backing up Chris Paul.
Rivers was averaging 6.9 points, 2.3 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game off the bench for the Pelicans.
"Obviously, you look at just three years ago he was the No. 1 player in the country (at Duke)," Crawford said. "The talent is obviously there, it’s just about finding a comfortable situation where you can fit and be who you are. Whenever you’re not comfortable in any situation I think things don’t go as well as they possibly could."
The Clippers dealt Reggie Bullock and Douglas-Roberts on Thursday and waived Jordan Farmar on Friday. They also traded Jared Cunningham recently and signed veteran Dahntay Jones to a 10-day contract. This will be Jones’ second game with the Clippers.
Asked if he would take the younger Rivers under his wing, Redick said: "I try to do that a little bit with every young guy. I’ve got to get to know Austin first to see what he needs. I think you treat everybody differently. Some guys you don’t need to give as much to. Some guys you need to give more to.
"Austin is a guy that’s always struck me as a very confident player a guy who works really hard. I don’t expect him to need a lot. I think he wants to play. He’s hungry to play. He’s hungry to prove himself. He’ll have an opportunity to do those things. I know he’ll be excited for it. I don’t expect to have to do too much with him."