Austin Rivers

Clippers Expect Austin Rivers To Return For Game 5

4:18 pm: Rivers said his son will play in Tuesday’s contest, but he’ll be on a minutes restriction, as Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times relays (Twitter link).

12:44 pm: Health issues have wreaked havoc on the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Jazz and Clippers, with standout big men Rudy Gobert and Blake Griffin both sustaining injuries of varying severity during the first four games. One player who has yet to make his 2017 postseason debut in the series appears to be ready to return though.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Clippers expect Austin Rivers to play in Game 5 on Tuesday. Rivers will be on a minutes restriction for the game, league sources tell Wojnarowski.

Rivers was initially sidelined with a left hamstring back in March, with head coach Doc Rivers suggesting earlier this month that the injury was “a little more serious” than initially believed. Shortly after he first went down, the younger Rivers said that he expected to get back on the court in time for the start of the playoffs, but his return was delayed by another week and a half.

Assuming Rivers is able to play on Tuesday, his return will give the Clippers some flexibility to use smaller lineups, particularly with Griffin sidelined for the postseason. In addition to providing solid perimeter defense, Rivers will give Los Angeles another outside shooting option — he made a career-high 37.1% of his three-point attempts during the regular season.

The Clippers and Jazz are tied at 2-2 heading into Game 5.

Pacific Notes: McGee, Kings, Redick, Rivers

Draymond Green played a crucial role in the Warriors’ decision to sign journeyman center JaVale McGee last summer, as Sam Amick of USA Today explains. They share the same agent, B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman, and Green lobbied GM Bob Myers to give McGee a chance. McGee, who appeared in just 62 games over the previous four seasons, signed a contract for less then $1MM and has emerged as a valuable role player. “I didn’t know him that well at all, but you [could] see some of the skills that a guy has and see that, alright that could possibly fit in,” Green told Amick. “Being that he’s super athletic, he offered something that we didn’t have.” McGee will re-enter the free agent market this summer and should be in greater demand.

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings have hired Luke Bornn as their VP of Analytics and Strategy, James Ham of NBC Sports California reports. Bornn, 31, was working for soccer’s A.S. Roma. “We’ll be looking at more advanced modeling tools often with the player tracking data to try and get a deeper understanding of player performance,” Bornn told Ham. Roland Beech, the team’s previous analytics guru, left the organization earlier this week.
  • Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick has gotten off just 13 shots in the first two games of the playoffs, but coach Doc Rivers appreciates his unselfish approach, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Redick has scored 11 points in the series under heavy defensive pressure but the team hopes to get him more involved in Game 3 on Friday, Turner adds. “Sometimes in certain games and series, you have to give yourself up to get the team stuff,” Rivers told the assembled media on Thursday. “J.J. has been terrific with that. He’s going to get his shot eventually.”
  • Clippers guard Austin Rivers will miss Game 3 with a strained left hamstring but remains hopeful of returning for Game 4, Turner reports in a separate story. Rivers has not played the last eight games, including the final six of the regular season.

Clippers Notes: Austin Rivers, D-League, Ingles

Austin Rivers will miss at least one more game of the playoff series with the Jazz because of a left hamstring strain that he suffered late in the season, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. His father and coach, Doc Rivers, said Austin went through a shooting session Saturday for the first time since the injury. He also did some light sprints and dribbling drills as the workout went better than a previous attempt. “I was on the court three or four days ago,” Austin Rivers told Bill Oram of The Orange County Register, “and it didn’t really go as I planned. Didn’t feel good and they took me off and waited a couple more days, with a little treatment and stuff like that. Today we tried it again and it worked.” He is aiming to be ready for Game 3 Friday night in Utah.

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The Clippers are hoping to add a D-League franchise next season, reports Adam Johnson of D-League Digest. The original plan was to have a team in place for 2018/19, but the organization decided it doesn’t want to wait that long. Ontario, California, is the preferred location, and the Clippers are awaiting league approval for that site. If that doesn’t work out, Johnson suggests Bakersfield as an alternative. The city hosted the Bakersfield Jam before that franchise was purchased by the Suns and moved to Northern Arizona. The new team would be the 26th in the D-League and the fourth to join next season.
  • The Clippers are facing Utah’s Joe Ingles in the playoffs three years after waiving him. Doc Rivers says the move was necessary because of another contract that the Clippers were obligated to keep, tweets Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. That contract belonged to Jared Cunningham, who only spent 19 games in L.A., according to Dan Woike of DanWoikeSports (Twitter link). Ingles was waived by the Clippers on October 25th, 2014, and claimed by the Jazz two days later.
  • The Clippers should have been more inspired in Game 1 considering that their long-term future is at stake, writes Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin can both opt out this summer, and the core of the team could be broken up with another early playoff exit.

Clippers Notes: Austin Rivers, Griffin, Doc Rivers

Austin Rivers is targeting the middle of a first-round playoff series as a realistic return date, relays Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Rivers is sidelined by a left hamstring strain that he suffered Wednesday against Washington. There’s no timetable for him to play again, but the general feeling is that he will be ready sometime in late April. “The goal was game one of the playoffs,” Rivers said, “but it’s looking like hopefully mid first round, early second round. We’ll see. You never know, I might heal faster than I think so. In my mind, my goal is to be back by the first round, for game one or game two, which is ideal. So, we’ll see.” The playoffs will start two weeks from today.

There’s more news out of Los Angeles:

  • After becoming the first player to reach 10,000 points in a Clippers uniform, Blake Griffin wanted to focus more on the postseason than his future in L.A., writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Griffin scored 36 today in a win over the Lakers, then brushed aside questions about free agency. “I’ve loved my time here, absolutely,” he said. “But my main focus right now is the season. I said this before the season, I’m not doing the whole free agency talk. I’m not talking about any decision I can’t make right now. Like I said, my main focus is getting this team right and moving forward and being right heading into the playoffs.”
  • Also reaching a milestone today was coach Doc Rivers, who posted his 800th career victory, Oram notes in the same story. Those wins have come over 18 seasons with the Magic, Celtics and Clippers. “I’ve learned everything is a big deal,” Rivers said, “but you don’t have to sweat it all.”
  • The Clippers are just 33-29 after a 14-2 start and there is concern that the core could be broken up this summer, writes Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. With Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick all headed toward free agency, Plaschke thinks a significant playoff run will be needed to justify keeping the team together.

Austin Rivers Likely Sidelined For Regular Season

The Clippers anticipate losing Austin Rivers for the rest of the regular season due to a left hamstring strain, Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN reports.

“I think it’s a little more serious [than initially believed],” coach Doc Rivers told reporters before Saturday’s game. When asked of Austin’s prospects for the postseason, Doc replied “We don’t know. I would say it’s 50-50.”

Per Arnovitz, Rivers’ injury occurred during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Wizards. Having already locked up a playoff spot, the decision to potentially shut down Rivers for the season appears to be a cautious one. Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford will likely split minutes at point guard in Rivers’ absence.

Austin addressed his injury with Bill Oram of the O.C. Register yesterday, voicing frustration at the prospect of being sidelined until the playoffs.

“This is the time of year, if anytime, I want to be healthy. … At least it’s not during the playoffs,” Rivers said. “People are always looking for something wrong with our team instead of looking for what’s right. Why don’t you look at how many injuries we’ve had and still been able to hold down the ship in the West, and still be a top-five seed in the West without Blake and Chris for a big chunk of games?”

Injury Updates: Millsap, Rivers, Bender, Beasley

It has been a rough few weeks for the Hawks, who have struggled to keep their hold on the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, having been caught by the Bucks in the standings. Still, Atlanta has won its lost two games and more good news is on the way. According to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Paul Millsap has returned to practice and signs are pointing toward him returning to action soon.

Millsap underwent a non-surgical procedure recently to help address the swelling and fluid buildup in his knee, following his diagnosis of synovitis. The four-time All-Star has missed the Hawks’ last seven games and his return would be a boon for a team that has posted an 8-14 record since mid-February.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Clippers guard Austin Rivers is expected to miss the last five games of the regular season with a strained left hamstring, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Rivers called the injury a frustrating one, but suggested he anticipates being back for the start of the playoffs.
  • Suns head coach Earl Watson indicated on Thursday that rookie big man Dragan Bender is getting close to returning to the court, and could be back within the week, barring setbacks, per Gerald Bourguet of Fansided (Twitter link). Bender underwent ankle surgery in February, and it’s somewhat surprising that Phoenix wants to see him return with just a few games left, rather than having him focus on 2017/18.
  • After missing the Bucks‘ last 17 games due to a hyperextended left knee, Michael Beasley is set to make his return on Friday night, tweets Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Acquired in a preseason trade, Beasley has become a reliable rotation piece this season in Milwaukee, averaging 9.7 PPG and 3.6 RPG in 50 games (17.1 MPG).

Clippers Rumors: Griffin, CP3, Rivers

The Clippers have been one of the NBA’s most successful regular season teams over the past several years, but that regular season success hasn’t translated into a deep playoff run — the team has been eliminated in either the first or second round of the postseason in each of the last five years.

With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Redick all on track to become unrestricted free agents this summer, the Clippers could find themselves at a crossroads, writes Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Although there’s still optimism within the organization about Paul and Griffin re-signing, things could change quickly if the Clippers suffer another first-round defeat this spring.

Ding provides a handful of interesting Clippers-related tidbits in his piece, so let’s round up some of the highlights…

  • “More and more people” around the NBA believe that Griffin isn’t necessarily a lock to remain with the Clippers in free agency, according to Ding. Griffin’s interests in the entertainment industry make him likely to stick in Los Angeles, but Ding suggests that the star forward may be open to considering the Celtics or even the Lakers.
  • For his part, Griffin weighed in on the Clippers, who have been up and down this season and have played sub-.500 ball since the All-Star break: “One thing you can control always is effort. Our effort hasn’t been there at times as a team. Haven’t had trust. I think that’s something we talked about a lot early in the season: the trust. Knowing the next man’s going to be there for you, knowing you’ve got to be there for whoever goes next. I think we miss that.”
  • One team source indicated to Ding that Paul’s “hard-driving nature and politician’s polish” make it hard for teammates to get close to him. According to that source, “nobody’s really friends with Chris.” Another source tells Ding that CP3 is closer to Doc Rivers than he is to any of his teammates.
  • There’s still some “in-house resentment” toward coach’s son Austin Rivers, but it “isn’t out of control,” Ding writes.

Pacific Notes: Temple, Labissiere, Crawford

For the first time since his January injury, Kings veteran Garrett Temple went full speed in practice. The 30-year-old has been cautious with the injury, Jonathan Santiago of Kings.com writes, but finally found himself comfortable enough to return to the court.

I’ve been out longer than I guess expected just because I know that I wanted to make sure that I got it all the way right,” Temple said this week before suiting up for the Kings in Sunday’s contest. “The setback I had last time was during the first day of practice. So after I got through my first day of practice yesterday without any other effects – a nice long two-hour practice – it helped my confidence.”

In 49 contests for the Kings this season, Temple had posted 7.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Thrust into a larger role ever since the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento big man Skal Labissiere has run with the opportunity. Shahbaz Khan of Kings.com spoke with the rookie about his experience during the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
  • Though he’ll turn 37 years old this week, Clippers guard Jamal Crawford would like to play three or four more seasons, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports. Crawford is averaging 12.3 points per game in his 17th season.
  • The Warriors will need to re-adapt to life without Kevin Durant but Zaza Pachulia has made an effort to come to terms with it, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com writes. “If I did something on purpose or even if I had flopped, that probably would have made me feel worse,” Pachulia said, “But it wasn’t even a flop. I got pulled. I fell. Nobody had control over it.
  • The lawyer of Matt Barnes requested a court date that doesn’t coincide with the NBA Finals, Rebecca Rosenberg of the New York Post writes. Barnes recently signed with the reigning two-time Western Conference champion Warriors.
  • The return of Chris Paul has thrown the Clippers bench into disarray, writes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. With Paul back in the starting five, Austin Rivers has had to slide back into the second unit. “Things like this happen,” backup center Marreese Speights said, “But we still got time to get it right before the playoffs. We’ll be all right.”

Deveney’s Latest: Griffin, CP3, Lowry, Wade

The Clippers delayed the inevitable, opting not to address their cap room situation at the trade deadline and instead leaving it to the summer. Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes that head coach Doc Rivers and president of basketball operations would have been wise to do something with either Jamal Crawford or Austin Rivers, who will be owed $26MM in 2017/18.

When the free agency period begins this summer, the Clippers will have the tough task of re-signing Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick. To do so comfortably, they would need to find a way to save money elsewhere. Paul, Deveney writes, could land a deal worth nearly $210MM over five years and isn’t likely to give the franchise a hometown discount.

Of note is that Deveney suggests that the Clippers may not automatically bring back Griffin on such a contract. He writes that if the team doesn’t make progress in the postseason this spring, they may be remiss to invest so much in their oft-injured big man.

Regardless of how the summer transactions play out for the Clippers, they could have been simplified had Rivers opted to address the problem mid-season rather than electing to kick the can further down the road.

There’s more from Deveney:

  • The Lakers, Sixers and Nuggets could all make a play for Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry this summer. The veteran playmaker will be due for a significant pay raise after establishing himself as an All-Star and a core component of a winning basketball club. Lowry considered the Lakers in 2014, Deveney writes, and could be partial to returning to his hometown of Philadelphia as well.
  • Consider the Nuggets among the frontrunners to pursue Dwyane Wade aggressively should he opt out of the final year of his deal with the Bulls. Though Chicago has been winning recently, the season has been a frustrating one for the organization. Deveney also mentions the Bucks as a possible landing spot because Wade’s alma matter, Marquette, is in Milwaukee.
  • The Mavericks have made it clear to newly acquired big man Nerlens Noel that they will meet any offer that the restricted free agent signs with other teams, Deveney says. The Mavs were able to get Noel relatively cheap from the Sixers and it appears they’re eager to factor him into their long-term plans.
  • The Wizards are intent on keeping forward Otto Porter in Washington, Deveney writes, even as the suddenly hot 23-year-old commodity, gets pursued by other teams like the Suns and Nets, as expected. As the pool of suitors grows, Porter’s price tag could approach max territory.

Lowe’s Latest: Clippers, Raptors, Wizards, Suns

The Clippers are trying to acquire a small forward without giving up one of their four core players and ESPN’s Zach Lowe reports that Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford aren’t drawing much interest from opposing teams. The franchise called the Wizards trying to bring Otto Porter to Los Angeles, but Washington was disinterested in engaging in trade talks.

A package of Rivers, Crawford, and a “distant” first-rounder won’t be enough to pry Wilson Chandler from the Nuggets, Lowe reports. Denver is seeking a lottery-protected first-round pick and swap rights on another pick for Chandler or Danilo Gallinari. The Nuggets intend to compete for the eighth seed in the Western Conference and they believe they can do it without one of their veteran small forwards.

Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:

  • The Raptors would like to add another rotation player, sources tell Lowe. The Raptors currently have 15 players under contract, but they could waive Jared Sullinger should they need an open roster spot. Lowe adds that any deal that sends out a high-priced veteran is not likely to occur until the offseason.
  • The Wizards are also eager to add a rotation player. The team has been linked to Lou Williams and it has explored trading a protected first-rounder in exchange for him. Lowe believes that’s too much value for Washington to give up and opines that two second-round picks may be able to get a deal completed.
  • The Suns are listening to offers on most of their veterans and Lowe writes that P.J. Tucker is the player who is most likely to be traded. The scribe names the Clippers and Raptors as teams to watch.
  • The Bucks are willing to listen to offers for anyone besides Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Thon Maker and Khris Middleton. Lowe adds that the Wolves have expressed interest in Tony Snell.
  • Jahlil Okafor was close to being acquired by the Blazers before the team traded for Jusuf Nurkic. Lowe adds that the Sixers did not hold Okafor out of two contests to simply drive up his price.
  • The two-way contracts for players who play in the NBA as well as the D-League could increase the value of second-round picks going forward, Lowe speculates. The scribe adds that front offices are still examining the new CBA and it could cause some teams to wait until after the season to make major deals.
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