Austin Rivers

Contract Details: K. Williams, J. Green, Nembhard, Minott, Rivers

Kenrich Williams‘ new four-year extension with the Thunder came in at a total value of $27,170,000, Hoops Rumors has learned. Williams will earn $6,175,000 in 2023/24 when the extension goes into effect, then $6,669,000 in ’24/25. His final two years are each worth $7,163,000, with a team option on the ’26/27 season.

In other Thunder cap news, JaMychal Green gave up $2,628,597 in his buyout agreement with the team. As our chart of minimum salaries shows, that’s the exact amount an eight-year veteran like Green would earn on a minimum contract, which is what he’ll reportedly sign with Golden State.

Here are a few more salary notes from around the NBA:

  • The Pacers took advantage of their cap room by giving second-round pick Andrew Nembhard a contract with a declining structure. His four-year deal begins at $2,244,111 this season, then dips to $2,131,905 in 2023/24 and $2,019,699 in ’24/25 before increasing to the ’25/26 minimum of $2,187,451. The first three years are guaranteed, while the fourth is a team option.
  • The Timberwolves used a portion of their mid-level exception to sign second-rounder Josh Minott to a four-year, minimum-salary contract. It’s fully guaranteed for the first two years and non-guaranteed for the last two. Minott’s third-year salary would become guaranteed if he’s not waived by June 28, 2024, and the fourth year is a team option. Minnesota now only has about $692K left on its mid-level exception, which could potentially be used very late in the season to sign a player to a three- or four-year minimum-salary deal.
  • The Timberwolves‘ minimum-salary contract with Austin Rivers is only partially guaranteed for $650K. It would become fully guaranteed if he remains on the roster through the league-wide salary guarantee date in January.

Timberwolves Sign Austin Rivers

JULY 21: Minnesota has officially announced the signing of Rivers, confirming the move in a press release.

JULY 14: The Timberwolves have made a move to bolster their bench as they continue to reshape their roster this summer. Minnesota is signing veteran combo guard Austin Rivers to a one-year contract, agents Dave Spahn and Aaron Mintz inform Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The 6’4″ vet will be signing on for the veteran’s minimum, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link).

Rivers will be reuniting with a familiar face in the Timberwolves front office — Minnesota team president Tim Connelly, who signed a lucrative deal of his own with the club this summer after a successful extended tenure with the Nuggets. Rivers spent parts of the last two NBA seasons as a key reserve in Denver under Connelly.

After signing a 10-day deal with the Nuggets in April 2021, Rivers quickly proved himself worthy of a roster spot on a postseason contender, and was promptly brought back on a rest-of-season deal. He further solidified his role with the club by stepping up as a scorer during the 2021 playoffs. In Denver’s first-round matchup against the Trail Blazers, Rivers averaged 11.5 PPG (while shooting 48.3% from deep), 2.3 APG and 2.2 RPG.

The 29-year-old journeyman re-signed with Denver during the 2021 offseason. He would go on to play a crucial role, largely off the bench, for a guard-deprived Denver club. Across 67 contests, including 18 starts, Rivers averaged 6.0 PPG on .417/.342/.727 shooting splits during 22.1 MPG of game action. He also pulled down 1.7 RPG, dished out 1.3 APG, and snagged 0.8 SPG.

Rivers joins a revamped Minnesota team that offloaded much of its veteran depth to add three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. He’ll serve as a helpful ball-handler off the bench behind projected backcourt starters D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards. Another new free agent signee, Kyle Anderson, will likely start at small forward, while Gobert will join All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns to form a jumbo-sized frontcourt tandem.

Nuggets Notes: Offseason, Rivers, Cousins, Draft

Simply getting Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) on the court again in the fall will raise the Nuggets’ ceiling for the 2022/23 season. However, head coach Michael Malone suggested in his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday that the team has to do more than just wait for everyone to get healthy in order to capitalize on its title window.

“This might be the biggest offseason, at least for me, in my perspective, since I’ve been here,” Malone said, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “… We have a window, and I think windows are only open so long. We have a 27-year-old phenom, who will hopefully soon be named a back-to-back MVP. We have to capitalize while we have a player, a special player in Nikola (Jokic), and do everything we can as an organization — and I know we will — to put the best players around him.”

As Singer writes, it will be important for the Nuggets to get the right “fringe” pieces around their perennial MVP candidate using the No. 21 overall pick in the draft and/or their cap exceptions in free agency. Denver was among the league’s worst teams at protecting the rim in 2021/22, so a backup center to help spell Jokic and a wing who can take some defensive pressure off of him could be priorities this summer, Singer adds.

“You can’t bleed at the rim the way we bled at the rim this year,” Malone said.

Here’s more out of Denver:

  • Both Malone and general manager Calvin Booth spoke highly of free-agent-to-be Austin Rivers on Wednesday. As Singer relays (via Twitter), Malone praised Rivers’ defensive tenacity and said his two years in Denver “speak for themselves,” while Booth said the veteran guard is a player the team would look to bring back.
  • Asked about how big a priority it is to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins this offseason, Booth said the Nuggets will talk to the veteran center’s reps, but Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link) didn’t get the sense that Cousins is a lock to be back.
  • The Nuggets like some draft prospects in the No. 21 range, but aren’t “married” to their pick and will explore all their options with it, according to Booth (Twitter link via Singer).
  • Booth hinted that Denver will look to add more shooting this summer. You don’t have to watch basketball for five minutes to know that Joker likes to have shooters around him,” the GM said (Twitter link via Singer).

Nuggets Notes: Hyland, Murray, Rivers, Green

It’s common for NBA veterans to take rookies under their wing, but Nuggets guard Bones Hyland has a mentor who isn’t even on his team, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. A few months ago, team president Tim Connelly and assistant coach Charles Klask asked Isaiah Thomas to reach out to Hyland, and Thomas has played a role in the first-year guard’s development.

Thomas, who is currently with the Hornets, spent some time with the Nuggets during the 2018/19 season. He invited Hyland to contact him any time he had questions, and now they’re in contact at least once a week.

“He’s a great kid, he takes information in really well, he asks questions all the time,” Thomas said of Hyland, who has become Denver’s third-leading scorer. “That’s the biggest thing probably with the younger guys, them (being) scared to ask questions. He’s a guy, he’ll text me in the middle of the night about some stuff that happened in the game and what he should do. I’m in his corner. I’m a big fan of his game. I’m a big fan of the person he is.”

There’s more on the Nuggets:

  • The team’s repeated teases about Jamal Murray‘s status is frustrating for fans, contends Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. There have been several reports about Murray’s chances to return from ACL surgery, but very little solid information on whether to expect him in the playoffs or even in the final week of the regular season. Nikola Jokic advised his teammate not to risk a comeback unless he’s certain that he’s fully healed. “I told Jamal, if you’re not 100% ready, don’t come back. It’s stupid,”  Jokic said. “You risk (getting re-injured) if you’re not 100% ready to go. Especially in the playoffs.”
  • Coach Michael Malone said Connelly talked to the NBA about Austin Rivers‘ ejection this week, but there’s no reason to expect the technical foul or accompanying fine to be rescinded, Singer tweets. Rivers was thrown out of Wednesday’s game against the Pacers for elbowing Lance Stephenson, but replays showed that very little contact was made. Rivers tweeted his disbelief following the game, writing, Never in my life have I been thrown out of Game for something so ridiculous. Seriously…never. League gotta look at this one.”
  • Jeff Green, who left Friday’s game for personal reasons, isn’t on the team’s injury report for today, according to Singer (Twitter link).

Nuggets Notes: Rivers, Forbes, Cousins, Bench

Nuggets guard Austin Rivers, a DNP-CD on Friday, returned to the team’s starting lineup on Sunday with several players sidelined and logged 34 minutes in a six-point win over Detroit.

After the game, head coach Michael Malone said he met with Rivers on Saturday to talk to him about the ever-changing rotation, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post tweets. Malone, stressing that his focus is winning games rather than making sure 17 players are happy about their minutes, said that Rivers is “a pro” who can deal with adjustments to his role.

For his part, Rivers said he’s willing to do what the team asks of him, though he believes he’s capable of providing more than he has.

“I know I can help this team win games,” Rivers said when asked what he discussed with Malone (Twitter link via Singer). “… I’m 29, I’m young, I feel great, I’m in my prime. I know I can be better than what I have played, too. You just have an honest conversation.”

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Newly-acquired guard Bryn Forbes could eat into Rivers’ playing time, but Rivers said he “didn’t take it personally” when the Nuggets traded for Forbes, pointing out that they do different things on the court (Twitter link via Singer). Rivers is the more natural ball-handler of the two, while Forbes is the stronger shooter.
  • Malone was surprised that the Nuggets were able to sign big man DeMarcus Cousins in free agency after the way he performed for the Bucks earlier in the season, writes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. “This guy, after playing really well in Milwaukee, was sitting at home waiting for his phone to ring,” Malone said following Cousins’ Denver debut on Sunday. “That’s crazy to me. I don’t know if people are scared of him or what. But I’m not scared of him. I love him.”
  • Rivers said Cousins brings the Nuggets’ second unit a “grit” they need, according to Keeler. “Everybody knows he’s an enforcer,” Rivers said. “… He’s still got to get his legs back, but he’s going to be big for this team. Especially with that second unit. He’s going to be a problem.” Malone agreed that Denver’s bench will benefit from Cousins’ grit: “That’s the mentality that group needs. They’ve got to have toughness. You’re not just going to come out and run your offense and be all pretty. We’ve got to disrupt that, be physical. And if they can do that, (that unit) can help our team a lot.”

Three Nuggets Players Enter Protocols

After having cleared their list of players in the health and safety protocols earlier this week, the Nuggets now have three new players in the protocols, as Jeff Green, Bones Hyland, and Zeke Nnaji entered today, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski points out, the Nuggets – who will also be without head coach Michael Malone and had two assistant coaches test positive for COVID-19, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link) – are suddenly in danger of not having the required minimum of eight players available for Thursday’s game vs. Golden State.

In addition to Green, Hyland, and Nnaji, the Nuggets are missing four players – Jamal Murray, Michael Porter, PJ Dozier, and Markus Howard – to long-term injuries. On top of that, Vlatko Cancar (non-COVID illness), Aaron Gordon (hamstring), Monte Morris (knee), and Austin Rivers (thumb) are all listed as questionable on the latest injury report.

That leaves the Nuggets with six healthy players. Davon Reed is expected to sign a new 10-day contract today, but that would still just get Denver to seven. The team may have to count on one or more of those questionable players being active and hope that additional testing doesn’t turn up new COVID-19 cases.

On the plus side, since the Nuggets now have players in the protocols, Reed’s new 10-day deal will fall under the COVID-related hardship umbrella, meaning it won’t count against team salary for cap or tax purposes.

Northwest Notes: Rivers, Hyland, Bazley, Wolves

Following his first-hand experience with COVID-19, Nuggets guard Austin Rivers is worried about the increased effect it’s having on the league, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Rivers, who was asymptomatic at first, eventually developed body aches, headaches and breathing issues. He was able to return to the court Friday and expressed concern about the toll the virus is taking on many rosters.

“It’s getting a little bit out of hand in the NBA, to be honest with you,” Rivers said. “I don’t know what we gotta do, whether it’s go back to limiting who’s in the arena, or we gotta test every day. We definitely gotta go back, obviously, to testing every day. I think that’s what we’re doing. The numbers are just getting scary at this point. They’ve got all types of variants.”

Rivers played in the bubble setting in Orlando at the end of the 2019/20 season and said no one wants to bring that back. The Nuggets have emphasized responsible behavior to their players and staff members, but Rivers fears that the virus may be uncontrollable.

“What can we do to minimize chances of spread?” he said. “The problem is, a lot of this is on the onus of what you do when you leave the facility. No matter if we test, or mask, no mask, fans, no fans, at the end of the day, when guys go home, you don’t know what they’re doing, you don’t know whether they’re going out. … You’re gonna stop guys from going out? It’s impossible.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Rookie guard Bones Hyland said he learned a lesson after being benched for the Nuggets‘ game on Wednesday because of a violation of team rules, Singer adds in a separate story. Hyland and coach Michael Malone didn’t reveal any details about the infraction, but they both indicated it’s part of learning how to be an NBA player. “We’re a better team when Bones Hyland is available,” Malone said Friday. “He knows that. This is a learning process for all young men. Tonight, he’s back with the team, he learned his lesson, and he helps us get a really important road win.”
  • The Thunder pulled Darius Bazley from the starting lineup Saturday for the first time since he was a rookie, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Coach Mark Daigneault said Bazley accepted the decision “professionally” when he was told about it (Twitter link). “Anytime we make a decision, it’s under the presumption that it’s going to work,” Daigneault said. “If we didn’t think this had the potential to kickstart him and help him reach the capability he has a player, we wouldn’t do it.” (Twitter link)
  • The Timberwolves need another big man next to Karl-Anthony Towns and should be aggressive about pursuing Pacers center Myles Turner, contends La Velle E. Neal III of The Star-Tribune.

COVID-19 Updates: Rivers, Millsap, Hornets, Holiday, Brooks

The Nuggets are expecting Austin Rivers to exit the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. It may take an extra day or two before Rivers is fully cleared to play, but his impeding return means Davon Reed‘s time with the team is likely done for the time being, Singer notes.

Denver signed Reed to a 10-day contract using the hardship exception on December 4. That deal will expire after Monday’s game, and with Rivers due back, the Nuggets will no longer be eligible to carry an extra player via the hardship provision.

Although Reed will likely head back to the Grand Rapids Gold – the Nuggets’ G League affiliate – he made a strong impression on the team during his time in the NBA and could be back later this season, says Singer (via Twitter).

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Nets forward Paul Millsap has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, sources tell Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Millsap is averaging a career-low 11.2 minutes per game in Brooklyn this season, so his absence shouldn’t create a huge hole in the team’s rotation.
  • Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels and center Mason Plumlee cleared the league’s health and safety protocols on Monday and were sent to the G League to complete a conditioning/rehab assignment with the Greensboro Swarm, the club announced (via Twitter). Charlotte still has LaMelo Ball and Ish Smith in the protocols, but the team is moving closer to getting all its affected players back after Terry Rozier was cleared on Sunday (Twitter link).
  • Pacers wing Justin Holiday, who has missed the team’s last five games while in the health and safety protocols, returned to practice on Sunday and said he’ll likely remain unvaccinated after having contracted COVID-19, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Assuming his stance doesn’t change, Holiday won’t be eligible to cross the Canadian border to play in Toronto on March 26.
  • Dillon Brooks‘ stint in the health and safety protocols was a short one. The Grizzlies forward received clearance on Saturday after being placed in the protocols on Thursday, as Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. The quick reversal suggests Brooks may have registered a false positive test.

Nuggets Notes: Rivers, MPJ, G League, Hardship Exception

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers spoke to his son, Nuggets guard Austin Rivers, about how he was feeling after testing positive for COVID-19, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Doc relayed that Austin said he felt fine yesterday, “and then today he felt terrible,” Doc said.

In a follow-up tweet from Mizell, Doc mentioned that Austin was vaccinated. He says his son will be okay, but he’s worried that so many players are getting sick.

[Austin] said, ‘I’ve never felt like this before.’ He’ll be good, but a lot of guys (are getting sick). I’m worried again. Let’s see if we can get through this,” Doc said.

Rookie Bones Hyland was deemed a close contact of someone who tested positive and is also in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

The Nuggets have been devastated by injuries this season and lost tonight in Orlando, 108-103. They are now 10-11.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • Michael Porter Jr. underwent back surgery on Wednesday and his agent said it was very successful, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “They went into surgery hoping to find exactly what they found,” agent Mark Bartelstein, told The Denver Post. “It went great. He can already feel a difference.”
  • With so many players injured and sidelined due to COVID-19, coach Michael Malone said he talked to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly about calling up a player from the G League, per Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). Former NBA players Nik Stauskas and Lance Stephenson are members of Denver’s G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, and could be candidates to receive a promotion.
  • The Nuggets can apply for a hardship exception due to tweaked rules related to COVID-19, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. In a follow-up tweet, Marks provides additional details about what using the exception would entail, if granted.

Nuggets’ Austin Rivers, Bones Hyland Enter Protocols

3:41pm: Hyland hasn’t tested positive for COVID-19 and is in the protocols because he was a close contact of someone who did, tweets Singer. Hyland remains out for the short term, but his absence likely won’t last as long as Rivers’ unless his situation changes.

9:46am: Hyland has also entered the health and safety protocols and – like Rivers – is expected to miss several games, tweets Singer. According to Singer, the belief is that no other Nuggets players will have to join Rivers and Hyland in the protocols.

With Rivers and Hyland sidelined, Monte Morris, Campazzo, and Will Barton figure to play increased roles, with Howard a candidate to enter the regular rotation.

9:04am: Nuggets guard Austin Rivers is the latest NBA player to enter the league’s health and safety protocols and is expected to miss several games, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Although Charania’s report doesn’t confirm whether Rivers has contracted COVID-19, a player who enters the protocols and is immediately ruled out for “several” games has generally tested positive for the coronavirus.

Rivers, 29, has played a regular role off the bench for Denver so far this season, averaging 17.4 minutes per contest in 18 games (three starts). He has put up career-worst numbers of 3.9 PPG on .346/.271/.500 in the early going.

Despite Rivers’ struggles, it’s bad news for the Nuggets that they’ll lose yet another piece of their rotation. Denver got a boost earlier in the week when Nikola Jokic and Bones Hyland returned to action, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes, but the team is still missing Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and PJ Dozier due to long-term injuries. JaMychal Green is day-to-day with an elbow issue.

If Rivers has tested positive for COVID-19, he’ll remain sidelined for at least 10 days, or until he returns consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. The Nuggets may lean more on Facundo Campazzo and Hyland in Rivers’ absence, with two-way player Markus Howard also a candidate to earn minutes.