Doc Rivers Urged Austin Not To Sign With Sixers

The Sixers were interested in signing free agent guard Austin Rivers before his father, new Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers, decided a reunion wouldn’t be in anyone’s best interest, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Rivers coached his son for three and a half years with the Clippers and thought it was best that Austin remain independent.

“He was high on Philly’s list before I took the job,’’ Doc Rivers said. “It was one of the guards they wanted. When I took the job, I said, ‘You don’t want that. You got too many other things we have to deal with.’ For Austin it’s better. He’s his own player. Unfortunately for him, me being the dad, he’s just an easy guy to target. I have felt since the separation, it’s been really good for him.’’

Rivers reached a three-year, $10MM agreement with the Knicks and was acquired from the Rockets in a sign-and-trade deal. That came after he turned down a player option with Houston that would have paid him the veteran’s minimum of $2.4MM.

Doc Rivers, who played for the Knicks in the 1990s, stayed with Austin during free agency and explained the benefits of playing in New York City.

“I kept telling him, ‘New York is a great place,’’’ Doc Rivers said. “I had a great experience there. That’s what I shared with him. It’s a tough city — in a positive way. He said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ I said, ‘It’s similar to Boston and Philly. Their fans are real. They want you to play hard, give you everything you can and play like a team.’ I told him, ‘The Knicks fans are still Red Holzman’s Knicks fans. They remember how that basketball was played. They want team basketball, hard-nosed, tough basketball.’”

Berman notes that the Knicks tried to attract Austin when he was a free agent in 2015, including a dinner with former team president Phil Jackson, but Doc Rivers convinced the Clippers to give him a contract that was a year longer than New York’s offer.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, who served on Rivers’ coaching staff in Boston, is among the beneficiaries of Austin choosing New York this time. He spoke to Doc Rivers about his son before the deal was reached.

“Tom just likes competitive players — always has,’’ Doc Rivers said. “We’re very similar — give us 12 competitors, we’ll figure it out. Whenever we talked about Austin — and we will a lot less now — Thibs loves competitors.’’

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