Just over one week ago, Austin Rivers opted into his $12 million Los Angeles Clippers contract. Now he’s packing his bags and moving across the country.
The Clippers agreed to trade Rivers to the Washington Wizards for Marcin Gortat. The story was first reported by ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Los Angeles Clippers are trading guard Austin Rivers to the Washington Wizards for center Marcin Gortat, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 26, 2018
Rivers made history when acquired by the Clippers in 2015. He became the first player to play under his father, Doc Rivers, who was president of basketball operations when he acquired his son from the Boston Celtics.
In Rivers first full offseason strictly as head coach, the Clippers traded his son to our nation’s capital.
It became clear the Clippers had plans outside of Rivers soon after he opted into his contract. Rivers made his decision hours before the 2018 NBA Draft, and the Clippers used their two first-round picks on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson. That created a backcourt log jam and Rivers became the odd man out.
The selection of Robinson shocked many who expected the Clippers to add depth at the center spot. DeAndre Jordan is expected to leave the organization this summer, so before this trade, Boban Marjanovic was the only center under contract. Instead of going young, they decided to add Gortat. The Polish Hammer is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career while Rivers is coming off his best.
Last season Rivers averaged career high’s in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game. He also started every game he dressed outside the first two. That was his first season ever starting more than 30 games in a single season.
As the newest member of the Washington Wizards, Rivers will start another season coming off the bench. John Wall and Bradley Beal will be the starting backcourt barring injury, but Rivers role off the bench is exactly what the Wizards need. They had arguably the worst backcourt depth in the NBA last season.
The Wizards backcourt depth last season included Tim Frazier, Ty Lawson, Ramon Sessions, Jodie Meeks, and Tomas Satoransky. None of them averaged more than eight points, four rebounds, and four assists per game. Among those players, Meeks and Satoransky are the only depth players under contract for next season.
Adding Rivers finally gives Scott Brooks a legitimate backup to Wall and Beal. Rivers has the ability to play both guard positions and proved last season he won’t crash when inserted into the starting lineup. Wall played a career-low 41 regular season games last season, so adding a quality backup floor general became a major need. After suffering multiple knee injuries, there’s no guarantee Wall plays all 82 games next season.
The Wizards now have one of the best guard rotations in the Eastern Conference. Wall, Beal, and Rivers all have the ability to distribute the basketball, create their own show and consistently knock down three-point shots. Most importantly, they will all take play making pressure off each others shoulders.
The Wizards now have Rivers, Satoransky, Meeks and Troy Brown as depth behind Wall and Beal. That’s a significant improvement from last season. Back court depth is no longer a need on this roster.