Austin Rivers

Southwest Notes: Mbah A Moute, Rivers, Porzingis, Spurs

Speaking today to reporters for the first time since reporting to the NBA’s campus and clearing quarantine, Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute confirmed that his arrival was delayed because he had contracted the coronavirus, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Mbah a Moute signed with the Rockets on July 7 as a substitute player replacing Thabo Sefolosha, but didn’t arrive in Orlando until last Wednesday. According to Feigen, Mbah a Moute said today that he dealt with “chills (and) body ache” while battling COVID-19, adding that the recovery was “tough.”

Meanwhile, Mbah a Moute’s teammate Austin Rivers hasn’t tested positive for the coronavirus, but remains quarantined in his hotel room after briefly leaving the Orlando campus last week. Rivers, who returned on Saturday, is scheduled to complete his four-day quarantine period on Tuesday and should be ready to go for the Rockets’ first seeding game this Friday vs. Dallas, Feigen writes for The Chronicle.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis was held out of Sunday’s scrimmage because he missed a mandatory coronavirus test on Saturday, though head coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t overly upset by the mistake, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. “This situation was one where he just took his eye off the ball a little bit in terms of the day-to-day protocols and procedures,” Carlisle said. “It can be challenging on off days to keep track of the schedule. I almost missed testing on our first off day. … It’s an innocent mistake, but it’s significant.”
  • Trey Burke just signed with the Mavericks on July 1 and was late arriving to the NBA’s campus in Orlando, but he believes his experience playing for Carlisle in 2018/19 will help him quickly adjust, Sefko writes at Mavs.com. “I feel comfortable, rather than other places coming into a new place and it’s a brand new system and a brand new coaching staff,” Burke said. “I pretty much know the pace that coach likes to play with, I know how hard he can be on guys and I’m ready for that.”
  • With LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles sidelined for the summer, the Spurs are experimenting with some guard-heavy lineups, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. One unit, which features recent first-rounders Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker playing alongside each other, could be a preview of the club’s future backcourt, McDonald notes.

Rockets’ Austin Rivers Returns To Campus

Rockets guard Austin Rivers is back on the Walt Disney World campus, two days after leaving for an “urgent family matter,” writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Rivers posted the news today on his Instagram account.

Players are permitted to leave the campus, but they must quarantine for four to 10 days once they return. Feigen notes that the four-day wait takes effect only if players test negative for the coronavirus for seven straight days before returning. Those tests can include the ones taken at the WDW complex if they’re away for fewer than seven days.

Rivers wasn’t present for last night’s scrimmage and will sit out Sunday’s contest with the Grizzlies, Feigen adds. His status for the final scrimmage on Tuesday and Houston’s first seeding game on Friday has yet to be determined.

Rivers was a valuable contributor off the bench in his first full season with the Rockets, averaging 8.5 points in 60 games while playing 23.4 minutes per night. He has a $2.4MM player option for 2020/21.

Rockets’ Rivers Leaves Campus Due To Urgent Family Matter

9:51am: Rivers expects to return to Orlando sometime this weekend, tweets Charania. Assuming he only requires a four-day quarantine period, Rivers should have a chance to be active for Houston’s first seeding game next Friday.


9:28am: Rockets guard Austin Rivers has left the NBA’s campus at Walt Disney World in order to attend to an “urgent family matter,” reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Based on the NBA’s protocols, Rivers will be subject to a quarantine period of at least four days when he returns to Orlando. He’ll have to remain quarantined for up to 10-14 days if he doesn’t return daily negative coronavirus tests for each day that he’s off campus (or each of the last seven days, if he’s away for more than a week).

Unless Rivers’ absence is brief, it seems unlikely he’ll be available for Houston’s first seeding game on July 31 vs. Dallas. However, he still has plenty of time to return and get back up to game speed before the playoffs begin (around August 17). The Rockets are hopeful he’ll be able to return soon, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Rivers is the fourth player known to have left the campus for a personal emergency. Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Clippers center Montrezl Harrell, and Clippers guard Patrick Beverley have also done so.

Southwest Notes: Zion, Rivers, Mavs, Hardy

Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson continues to grapple with a $100MM civil suit from attorneys representing his former marketing manager Gina Ford and her company Prime Sports Marketing, per Mark Schlabach of ESPN. Per Schlabach, the suit alleges that Williamson’s parents may have been given “improper benefits” preceding or during Williamson’s blockbuster one-season Duke tenure.

However, Williamson got some positive news on the case this week, as a Florida state appeals court has granted him a full stay. This will allow the star forward to avoid answering questions about the suit until the resolution of a federal case covering the same issues.

Here’s more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets backup guard Austin Rivers spoke with The Athletic’s Kelly Iko at length about a variety of issues, including the league’s Orlando restart. “They’re saying we’ll be in Orlando for at least a period of time, anywhere between 30 to 40 days without seeing our family,” Rivers said. “And I don’t want to do it. Nobody wants to do it, but we all have to sacrifice if you want to have the season, resume and that’s what we have to do.” Rivers inked a veteran’s minimum contract with Houston in the hopes of winning a title, despite apparently fielding heftier offers from non-contenders.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has indicated that team stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are set to return to Dallas within the week, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). Doncic, a second-year guard, has been having a breakout season in Dallas. Voted an All-Star starter in the competitive West, Doncic is averaging 28.7 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and 8.7 APG on the 40-27 Mavericks.
  • In case you missed it earlier today, Spurs assistant Will Hardy reportedly ranks among the coaching candidates who will interview for the Knicks’ head job. The 32-year-old Hardy has been with the Spurs in some capacity since 2010, when he got his start with the team as a basketball operations intern. He became an assistant coach in 2016.

Hiatus Notes: Howard, Rivers, Green, Beverley

Lakers center Dwight Howard believes the NBA should reconsider its plans of returning next month due to the ongoing racial injustice problems in the United States, claiming that the resumption of a season could prove to be a distraction.

Howard, an eight-time NBA All-Star, issued the following statement on the matter (as relayed by CNN’s Jill Martin):

“I agree with Kyrie [Irving]. Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction. Sure it might not distract us players, but we have resources at hand [the] majority of our community don’t have. And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop. Especially with the way the climate is now. I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that’s just to [sic] beautiful to pass up. 

“What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families. This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of. When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families. This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!! European Colonization stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves. Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It’s time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved.”

Multiple players (including Irving) agree on the matter, with Irving voicing his concerns during a conference call that included dozens of the league’s players on Friday. Several other players are in disagreement, however, citing financial implications, competitive aspects, and a dire need for sports in such an unprecedented time.

The NBA is still working on finalizing details for the resumed 2019/2020 season, which was suspended indefinitely in March due to COVID-19. The league is currently eyeing a July 30 return date, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Here are some other notes related to the NBA’s hiatus:

  • Rockets guard Austin Rivers holds a different opinion than Howard about whether the NBA season should resume, posting his comments in an Instagram reply (as relayed by ESPN). “Us coming back would put money in all of our (NBA players’) pockets,” Rivers said as part of a larger quote. “With this money you could help out even more people and continue to give more importantly your time and energy towards the BLM movement. Which I’m 100% on board with. Because change needs to happen and injustice has been going on too long.”
  • Lakers guard Danny Green detailed the different aspects of the NBA’s restart plan in a Q&A with Mark Medina of USA Today. Green touched on a number of subjects, including concerns about the NBA’s “bubble,” player feedback, and his level of optimism on the league’s expected return.
  • Clippers guard Patrick Beverley had a rather interesting take on whether the NBA should return, posting the following on social media. Hoopers say what y’all want. If @KingJames said he hooping. We all hooping. Not Personal only BUSINESS #StayWoke.” Beverley is part of a talented Clippers team seeking its first ever championship this year, with both the Clippers and the Lakers battling for bragging rights in Los Angeles.

Southwest Notes: Jackson Jr., Ivey, Rivers, D’Antoni

The Grizzlies will have to defend their playoff position if the NBA can salvage a significant amount of its regular season, but Jaren Jackson Jr. doesn’t mind as long as he can get back to basketball, writes Jason Munz of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis held a three-and-a-half-game cushion over the Trail Blazers, Pelicans and Kings for the eighth spot when the hiatus began. The NBA has discussed scenarios that include going straight to the playoffs or fitting in a few more regular-season games.

“I mean, whatever. I’m down just to play, honestly,” Jackson said. “I know there’s talks about if they need games before the playoffs to get us ready for the playoffs, or they just want to hop right into (the postseason). I would be cool with either, honestly. We’re in the playoffs (if the regular season ended today), so I’m biased. I’d rather just run it.”

Jackson, who is among the many players without access to a basketball hoop during the shutdown, also addressed the potential adjustment of playing in empty arenas.

“I think we’ve all, at some point, played AAU or some form of it,” he said. “Whether you were overseas or not, like, you played a certain type of amateur basketball that is kind of like that. So it will definitely remind you of that and bring back memories. I think everybody will be fine, honestly.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies assistant Niele Ivey is the new women’s basketball coach at Notre Dame, the team announced today. She came to Memphis in the offseason after 12 years as an assistant with the Fighting Irish. “In her first year with the Memphis Grizzlies, Niele made a lasting impact on the floor, but even more so off the floor through her relationships with the players, fellow coaches and staff, including the relationship we built coach-to-coach,” said Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins.
  • Rockets guard Austin Rivers is likely to opt out of his $2.4MM salary for next season and test free agency, states Danny Leroux of The Athletic, who previews Houston’s offseason along with Kelly Iko. The Rockets hold Early Bird rights on Rivers and can start his new contract at nearly $10MM per season without having to use their mid-level exception.
  • If Houston decides to part with head coach Mike D’Antoni, who is in the final year of his contract, Leroux suggests the Pelicans might be his best destination. Of course, that could only happen if New Orleans decides to fire coach Alvin Gentry. Leroux notes that D’Antoni has connections with Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin from their time together in Phoenix and might bring the best offensive philosophy to help develop Zion Williamson.

Rockets Being Aggressive On Trade Market

It’s never surprising that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is looking to make a deal, especially around the trade deadline, and Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle reports that a shortage of assets hasn’t prevented Morey has being as active as ever.

A source tells Feigen that the Rockets are hoping to trade their 2020 first-round pick for a player who can help right away. They haven’t targeted a specific position, but Feigen assumes point guard is off the table with Russell Westbrook and James Harden handling the playmaking duties.

Morey doesn’t seem to mind parting with a first-rounder, even though the team will be short on them in upcoming years. Houston sent first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 to the Thunder in the Westbrook deal, along with the option to switch picks in 2021 and 2025.

Feigen speculates that the team may be more interested in adding someone in the frontcourt rather than at the wing, where Rivers, Eric Gordon and Ben McLemore are all available and Thabo Sefolosha has been seeing an increase in playing time.

In addition to the first-rounder, Houston has Nene‘s contract, along with trade exceptions valued from $1.5MM to $3.6MM, as assets to try to get a deal done. Feigen notes that beyond the Rockets’ core, Austin Rivers and Gerald Green both have restrictions that enable them to veto any trade, while Chris Clemons can’t be moved because he just signed a three-year contract in late December.

Feigen adds that the Rockets also have a history of being aggressive on the buyout market and may have hopes of landing Andre Iguodala if they can’t find a deal they like.

Southwest Notes: Forbes, Porzingis, Rivers, Zion

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News wonders if Spurs shooting guard Bryn Forbes can retain the deft stroke he employed in the team’s recent 135-133 double overtime defeat of the Rockets. Forbes racked up 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, including a sparkling five-of-six from deep.

If Forbes can shoot well enough, he should remain entrenched as the Spurs’ starting two guard, McDonald writes. Forbes himself expressed confidence that he could: “I’ve put in a lot of work, and I don’t do it to miss shots.” 

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks‘ 7’3″ sharp-shooting, shot-blocking “Unicorn,” has adapted his game since being traded from the Knicks. The explosive offensive fire power of his triple-doubling teammate Luka Doncic has impacted how KP can best help in Dallas. The Athletic’s Shams Charania unpacks how the 24 year-old has adapted his shot profile and playmaking in Dallas, upon signing a five-year, $158MM extension in July. “Some nights I get more opportunities and some nights I don’t get as many opportunities,” Porzingis told Charania. “But most nights, we give Luka the ball and let him f***ing go.”
  • Ahead of what would become a 115-109 Rockets victory last night, guard Austin Rivers had high praise for current Suns coach Monty Williams. Williams served as Rivers’ first head coach when both were with the Pelicans (then the Hornets). “I’ll tell you, in terms of on-the-ball defense, I think I’m as good as anybody,” Rivers said, per The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen. “I really do give credit to Monty. He was so on me about defense, it’s all I thought about.” Rivers re-signed with the Rockets this summer on a two-year,$4.5MM veteran’s minimum contract.
  • Much-ballyhooed Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson, the 2019 No. 1 pick, has started partaking in light on-court team work recently, but he had yet to begin on-court work as of December 4. Williamson will not make the original six-to-eight-week knee surgery recovery window projected by Pelicans brass. William Guillory of The Athletic opines that New Orleans’ cardinal sin, though, is a lack of defensive effort or hustle, and Zion won’t be able to solve that issue on his own.

Rockets Re-Sign Austin Rivers

JULY 17: The Rockets have officially re-signed Rivers, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 1: The Rockets will re-sign point guard Austin Rivers on a two-year deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The second season in the agreement contains a player option. Rivers’ new deal will be worth the minimum, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Rivers, 26, first signed with Houston on a free-agent deal in December. He provided production off the bench behind Chris Paul and James Harden in 47 games, averaging 8.7 points and 2.3 assists per contest.

“I’m just very excited,” Rivers said, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26. “Happy to be on a playoff team.”

Rivers, the No. 10 pick in 2012, spent time with the Pelicans, Clippers and Wizards before joining the Rockets. Houston already came to terms with free agents Gerald Green and Danuel House during the first day of free agency.

Because he’s re-signing with his previous team on a two-year deal with a second-year option, Rivers will have the ability to veto trades in 2019/20, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

Western Notes: Russell, Suns, Beverley, Kings, Rivers, Blazers

The Timberwolves, led by D’Angelo Russell‘s close friend Karl-Anthony Towns, were confident about their ability to get a commitment from Russell in free agency and went into their Sunday meeting with him ready to make the trades necessary to make a deal work, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota was just waiting for the green light from D-Lo to move forward on those trades, but the All-Star point guard instead opted to join the Warriors.

The Suns were viewed as a team that might try to get into the mix for Russell, who has another good friend – Devin Booker – in Phoenix. However, despite Booker’s campaign, Phoenix chose not to pursue the RFA guard, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. According to Rankin, the Suns “apparently felt Russell wouldn’t have been a good influence on Booker off the court.”

The Warriors, with their veteran leaders, apparently had no such qualms about D-Lo, who – by all accounts – matured considerably during his time in Brooklyn.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • After agreeing to sign a three-year, $40MM deal with the Clippers, Patrick Beverley tells Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times that he turned down a more lucrative offer from the Kings to return to L.A. “I got a bigger offer from Sacramento and I took $9-10 million less to come here,” Beverley said. “… It was the right decision. Of course, the human part of you wants to take as much money as you see, but all money isn’t good money. I did what was best for me and my family and I did what was best to stay on a winning team, and I feel like I made the right decision.”
  • Despite Beverley’s comments, Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) hears that the Kings offered the veteran guard a guaranteed total of $35MM over three years, with a partial guarantee in year three. Theoretically, it’s possible that Beverley’s claim could still be accurate if that third-year partial guarantee was very small and he’s including the non-guaranteed money as part of Sacramento’s bid.
  • Before he agreed to return to the Rockets for the veteran’s minimum, Austin Rivers had offers in the range of the $5.7MM taxpayer mid-level exception, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. “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.”
  • The Trail Blazers have announced Terry Stotts‘ coaching staff for the upcoming season, with Nate Tibbetts replacing David Vanterpool as the team’s associate head coach. Portland has also promoted Jim Moran to the front of the bench and hired former NBA guard Jannero Pargo as an assistant.