Posts Tagged ‘Austin Rivers’

Rivers Finding Way On Winding Journey


VIDEO: Pelicans at Mavericks, Jan. 11, 2014

DALLAS – Austin Rivers, son of Doc, has found it more difficult than perhaps expected to make a name for himself in the NBA. Maybe that’s about to change.

Since New Orleans selected Rivers — some would say reached — with the 10th overall pick in 2012, the one-and-done Duke product has had a rocky indoctrination. He was thrust into the starting lineup early on and struggled, then was knocked out of the last quarter of his rookie season by a hand injury. He has spent his sophomore campaign so far largely riding the pine behind a recast backcourt of Jrue Holiday, Eric GordonTyreke Evans and even the undrafted Brian Roberts .

Austin Rivers (Layne Murdoch/NBAE)

Austin Rivers
(Layne Murdoch/NBAE)

But as it goes in the NBA, things change quickly. Injuries to Holiday, Evans and 3-point-shooting power forward Ryan Anderson are drastically reshaping the Pelicans’ rotation. Suddenly the little-used Rivers is getting his shot for a team dangerously close to being out of playoff contention and dragging a five-game losing streak into Monday’s home game against San Antonio (8 p.m. ET, League Pass).

“The mindset in the locker room right now is if we play hard we can win,” Rivers said. “You look at teams right now like the Phoenix Suns, they don’t have superstar players, but they play hard, they play hard the whole game and they trust their system and they play the same way every night. And because of that they’re one of the better teams in the league, which no one could have called at the beginning of the year, and that’s because guys stepped up, and that’s what we need to do. We have more than enough talent and skill to do that.”

Rivers hopes to be a significant piece of the equation. He’s played in just 24 of 36 games, averaging  just 13.3 minutes per game, 10 minutes off his rookie average when he started 26 of 61 games. His shooting percentages have remained stagnant, below 40 percent overall and around 32 percent from beyond the arc. Playing so little makes it difficult to develop any rhythm, but questions linger about the 6-foot-4 combo guard: Beyond an ability to get to the rim, is he NBA material?

Rivers, 21, said he examined that question daily during the offseason, and at times with his dad, former NBA guard and Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

“We looked at things and I had to look at myself and think about what I was doing good and what I was doing bad,” Rivers said. “The main thing was, it’s funny, the thing that I wasn’t doing was being myself. I was going out there and trying to live up to this or trying to be everything I wasn’t instead of being what got me here, which is not like me. That was my biggest focus. Some second-year guys do Summer League, some guys don’t; I was adamant about doing it because I wanted to go out there and show that I’m back to being me. That’s what I did. And then we just had a lot of trades where I had to sit out and wait, and now it’s my time.”

In the two games since Holiday was ruled out indefinitely with a fractured ankle, Rivers logged 25 and 23 minutes. He had played more minutes just once all season. In the first game, he aggressively attacked, tying his second-best scoring output of the season with 12 points, and adding a season-high  four assists. He had nine points and four assists in Saturday’s second of back-to-back losses to Dallas.

In the latter game he also discovered that having a famous basketball surname means little when it comes to getting the benefit of a whistle. Rivers was being closely checked by Mavericks guard Monta Ellis above the 3-point arc as the game clock ticked down. The Pelicans needed a 3-pointer to tie. Rivers’ ballhandling was sloppy, but he regrouped. And as he tried to rise up for the shot, Ellis raked him across the arms. No call. Game over. The following day the league office ruled a foul should have been called and Rivers should have gone to the free-throw line for three shots and a chance to tie.

Tough lesson. Seems Rivers’ brief career already has been full of them.

“Everybody has different paths and that’s something that took me a while to figure that out,” Rivers said. “At first [not playing] was just frustrating … [but] that doesn’t do anything because at the end of the day I’m here, and I’m glad I’m here because I think this is all going to make me better in the long run. I like where I’m at with my teammates and my coaches and I think four or five years down the road from now I’ll be able to look back and be like, ‘I remember that time when guys were asking me how did you feel about this and that,’ and now I’m here.

“I know this is all a process, and I know if I continue to work like I know I do and to listen to the coaches and older guys I’ll be fine. But it’s funny how it works like this — one minute I’m like, ‘Man…,’ and now I’m playing a lot.”

Morning Shootaround — Oct. 7

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Rose feeling ‘great’ after preseason debut | Bargnani likely to start in preseason | Karl discusses Denver ouster | McGee impressing Nuggets | Rivers shows improvement

No.1: Rose not sore after preseason debut: In his first NBA game (albeit a preseason one) in more than 17 months, Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose looked solid on Saturday night against the Pacers. Sure, there was some rust to his game, but he finished with 13 points in just over 20 minutes of play in Chicago’s 82-76 victory. Even better news for Bulls fans than a preseason win powered by their superstar is news that Rose is feeling fine after putting up such an effort, writes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

The big question Sunday was how Rose’s knee felt the day after his first test.

Coach Tom Thibodeau limited Rose’s playing time to 20 minutes in the 82-76 exhibition win over the Pacers and took him out for good with seven minutes left in the third quarter.

“Feeling good,” Rose said Sunday before practice at Saint Louis University. “Thibs was asking me the same thing. I’m feeling all right. I could’ve played some more, but they took me out. If anything, (they were) just watching me, making sure I’m all right.”

Thibodeau joked Saturday that Rose was mad at him for taking him out so early. Even in a meaningless game, it was hard for Rose to sit and watch, knowing he felt strong enough to continue playing.

“Yeah it’s tough, especially for it to be a close game like it was,” Rose said. “To be sitting out, I just wanted to test myself a little more, but I wasn’t able to.”

Rose said he feels like he’s where we wants to be, crediting a rigorous training regime he has employed during his rehab.

“Conditioning and rehab and training definitely put me in the spot I’m in right now, where I’m recovering real quick,” he said. “I’m eating right. My diet has changed. It’s actually preventing a lot of (minor) injuries in the future, just preparing myself the right way and staying healthy. That’s the key.”

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No.2: Woodson may opt for big-man heavy starting lineup: From the sound of what Knicks coach Mike Woodson had to tell reporters on Sunday, it seems that in terms of New York’s starting lineup, bigger is better. Woodson is more than likely going to start a frontcourt of Tyson Chandler at center, Andrea Bargnani at power forward, Carmelo Anthony at small forward, Iman Shumpert at shooting guard and Raymond Felton at point guard. That lineup pushes ‘Melo over one forward spot and shifts Shumpert to the guard line, displacing Pablo Prigioni, writes Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:

“I like the makeup of Andrea and Melo on the floor at the same time with Tyson,” Woodson said after the Knicks’ noncontact practice in Greenburgh. “In the scrimmage we worked that combination. It wasn’t bad. Again it’s got to be done in the game, in real-game situations and see how it looks. If it’s good, we can feed off of that. Until we get to that point, I don’t know.”

“We have such a logjam at the two and three,” Woodson said. “If I want to play Melo and (Metta World Peace) over at the three, you still have (Tim) Hardaway (Jr.), Iman and J.R. (Smith). You’ve got to respect their position and see if they can hold it this year. As soon as they can get back on the floor, it should be a competitive practice where they’re competing for that spot.

“I know I can always go back to Pablo and Raymond. But at this point I’m going to try a big guard if I can and see how it plays out.”

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No. 3: Karl opens up about end in Denver: In a frank conversation with The Boston Globe‘s Gary Washburn, ousted Denver Nuggets coach George Karl opens up about his tenure in Colorado, his future as a TV analyst for ESPN and how changes in the NBA led to the reigning Coach of the Year being fired shortly after the Nuggets’ first-round loss to the Golden State Warriors. Karl does not come across as bitter in the interview, but, like many NBA observers, remains confused about why he was shown the door:

“I was amazed at how quickly I accepted what happened,” Karl said, “because I had 8½ great years and last year was probably my most fun coaching any basketball team I’ve ever been associated with.

“I don’t have a lot of bitterness other than I don’t understand. But not understanding — when you are working in a world of millions, millions, and millions of dollars, there’s a lot of things I don’t understand.

“There’s a lot of contracts we give players that I don’t understand. There’s a lot of trades that I don’t understand. There are a lot of decisions I don’t understand.

“I can’t deny there’s an anger and frustration. But there’s much more celebration in my heart than anything else.”

“There are a lot of truths that change,” he said. “You win 57 games and win Coach of the Year, the truth was it probably did once create security, but the truth now is it doesn’t.

Lionel Hollins did a great job. The truth is when you do a great job, you should be able to be kept. In today’s world, it’s different. The truth to that is if you don’t adjust to that, you’re probably not going to survive.”

***

No. 4: McGee out to prove his worth to himself, Nuggets: As our own Jeff Caplan detailed before training camps opened, Nuggets center JaVale McGee is determined more than ever to prove he’s not just a “Shaqtin’ a Fool” regular and an NBA punchline. That mentality has carried over into training camp as McGee has impressed team officials and new coach Brian Shaw by staying later after practice to hone his game and showing a commitment to the game the Nuggets were hoping to see last season, writes Christopher Dempsy of The Denver Post:

Nuggets center JaVale McGee was on his last-one-out grind. On Tuesday: free throws well after most everyone left the Pepsi Center practice court. On Thursday, post-practice offensive work, followed by full-court sprints with assistant coach Patrick Mutombo.

It is all by design.

No one does everything right in the first week of training camp, but McGee is going after it, from improving his skills on the low block to getting a better handle on his conditioning. The seriousness of his approach is in stark contrast to a year ago, when his sluggish training camp cost him a starting job — and ultimately significant playing time — just weeks after he signed a four-year, $44 million contract extension.

McGee is eager to show he is much more than a player who had become largely expendable by last season’s playoffs.

“That’s exactly what I’m trying to show,” McGee said. “What people didn’t believe I could do is possible.”

***

No. 5: Rivers gives Pelicans some hope for future: As a rookie for New Orleans a season ago, Austin Rivers struggled to live up to much of the hype that surrounded him following a standout career at Duke. Rivers played a regular role in the Pelicans’ rotation and struggled the first half of the season before improving a bit shortly before a hand injury knocked him out of the lineup for the last 23 games. Rivers had a solid night in his preseason debut (21 points, five assists) and his opener has New Orleans hoping he and new All-Star guard Jrue Holiday can make for a solid backcourt combo, writes Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune:

“I just think he is right where he should be,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “We’ve heard about Austin since he was in the seventh or eight grade and everybody wants him to be LeBron (James), but he is right where he should be.

“He works his tail off. He’s probably one of the most competitive guys in the league. He’s hungry. He does some things you like from a young guy. He works hard. He’s coachable. He’s not afraid. To me, you can’t ask for more than that.

“He’s going to have ups and downs because he is 20. But he competed and that’s what I wanted.”

Rivers, who’ll get another opportunity to build on his performance when the Pelicans play at the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, said he was encouraged by his performance.

“It felt good,” Rivers said. “That was the whole purpose for me playing summer league this year, to get my rhythm back. I missed a lot of games last year. I missed the last 22, 25 games last year. That’s a lot of games for anybody. So it’s been a while since I have played a game.

“And I really feel like summer league helped me this year, just to go out there and get my repetitions and play the point guard. I told everybody before the year I wanted to play the point. I have no problem playing the two, but I want to play the point. And that’s what I did (against Houston).”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Just call Cavs veteran guard Jarrett Jack “Crusty” from now on … Damian Lillard will help rookie C.J. McCollum get through his foot injuryChauncey Billups gets the OK from coach Maurice Cheeks to miss some practice drillsJose Calderon not expected to play in the Mavs’ presason opener

ICYMI of the night: Darius Johnson-Odom, who spent most of last season in the NBA D-League, is trying to make the cut for the Lakers this season. Dunks like this one last night against Denver won’t hurt his cause …

Las Vegas Summer League: Day 8 Recap

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LAS VEGAS – Friday was moving day, as in moving on out for the 14 teams that filled out the consolation bracket of the first-ever Summer League tournament. The day featured seven games in two arenas spanning more than eight hours of basketball.

Eight teams will get back to action in Saturday’s quarterfinals in the Championship bracket with the semifinals on Sunday and the inaugural championship game on Monday night (9 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

Here’s a look at who did what in their final appearance of the summer.

Non-rookie of the day: Austin Rivers, the 10th overall pick a year ago by New Orleans and who now must wonder where his playing time will come in a backcourt that includes Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans left coach Monty Williams with something to remember, scoring 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting, plus three assists in 32:29.

Other notables: Atlanta’s Mike Scott, the 43rd pick a year ago who played in 40 games last season for the Hawks, had a huge day with 25 points, 10 rebounds and two assists. He made all 12 of his free-throw attempts. Denver’s Luke Harangody had 17 points, and Memphis’ Donte Green scored 16 points. Mavs point guard Justin Dentmon, who has toiled overseas and in the D-League with a few 10-day NBA contracts sprinkled in, lit it up late in a loss to Chicago for 23 points while hitting. Trail Blazers guard Terrel Harris finished strong with 25 points on 11-for-19 shooting and six rebounds.

Rookie of the day: We have a tie in this category. Sacramento’s Ben McLemore put on a show with a spectacular 19-point third quarter that helped the Kings get their lone win of the summer over the Hawks. He was 10-for-21 from the floor and had nine rebounds. Spurs forward Hollis Thompson, who played in the  D-League last season coming out of Georgetown, pushed San Antonio to a final-day, 90-80 victory over Milwaukee with a box-score-stuffing stat line: 21 points (8-12 FG, 2-2 3FG, 3-3 FT), four rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal in just 28 minutes.

Other notables: McLemore’s teammate Ray McCallum, a second-round pick, continues to impress with his quickness and smarts. He delivered 12 points and 11 assists (we also must mention Kings forward David Lighty going 8-for-9 from the field for 16 points). Bucks point guard Nate Wolters scored 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting and added five rebounds and three assists in the 90-80 loss to the Spurs. The Knicks got a huge lift from their bench in a 91-80 win over the Clippers. Terrence Jennings, who has played overseas and in the D-League, had 14 points and nine rebounds while D-League rookie of the year Tony Mitchell out of Alabama had 15 points and four rebounds. Bulls second-round pick Erik Murphy, who suffered a broken nose earlier in the week, paced Chicago past Dallas with 19 points (7-for-10 shooting, 3-for-5 on 3s) and 13 rebounds. Teammate Tony Snell, the 20th pick out of New Mexico, had 20 points, seven boards and three dimes.

Coming Up: The quarterfinals of the championship bracket gets started at 4 p.m. ET when the 18th-seeded Heat take on the seventh-seeded Cavaliers. Then it’s No. 3 Phoenix taking on  No. 6 Toronto, the No. 4 D-League Select team against No. 5 Charlotte and finally No. 1 Golden State against No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers.

Rivers Returns To A Different Team

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LAS VEGAS – He played a game Friday for the first time since March 6, long enough that Austin Rivers left the Hornets and came back to the Pelicans without moving, long enough that he was able to turn the layoff into a learning process, long enough that he said, “it’s been forever.”

Three months. Forever.

Same difference.

summer-league-logoHis entire basketball world changed while Rivers was recovering from the broken right hand that prematurely ended his rookie season. His team name has changed and before he could get back for the summer-league opener at Cox Pavilion, the new look in New Orleans had extended to the actual face lift with the draft-night deal that brought All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday from the 76ers and the sign-and-trade that delivered swingman Tyreke Evans from the Kings.

Rivers was already something of a man without a position, a combo guard who faced a long transition if the Pelicans followed through on the stated 2012-13 option of making him a point guard. Eric Gordon is the starting two-guard with Holiday set at the point and Evans able to play behind Gordon in addition to working at small forward and maybe even some as the primary ballhandler.

“You saw tonight, I can do both,” Rivers said of being able to play either guard, a well-timed assessment after the 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting, seven rebounds and six assists against two turnovers in the 77-72 victory over the Knicks. “I really can do both. I’m a scorer but I can play the point and get people open. With Jrue there, Jrue’s going to be the dominant point, so I think it’ll be a lot of two. Hopefully I can start at the two or something like that and then play backup point to him.”

Sounds good, but does the Pelicans’ offseason moves have him feeling left behind?

“No, not at all,” Rivers said. “And if I do, then things will happen. I’m not going to worry about it. All I can do is work. I can’t tell him (Holiday) that he needs to get off the team or ‘I need to be traded here.’ All I can do is work hard, keep looking forward…. I love New Orleans and I love to play there. I expect one way or another I’ll be playing because I know I’m going to work hard and out-work anybody. That’s definitely my focus right now.”

He even found encouragement in the injury because the time on the sideline gave Rivers a chance to analyze his game in a different way, away from the court. Hurting the right hand forced him to work solely with his right, improving that side. Sitting forced him to become grounded.

“The game is slowing down just a little and he’s slowing down a little bit,” said Bryan Gates, the assistant coach during the season who is running the summer-league team. “Not getting so anxious, a mistake not bothering him. A bad call, he gets over it a little quicker. A bad turnover, he gets over it. A teammate, if something happens, if he gets really frustrated, he realizes it and then kind of gets himself back together. We’ve got to remember how were we at 21 years old? We’ve all matured as the years go on. I think people are a little bit too hard on him. Let him grow up a little bit.”

Friday was a good start at applying lessons learned. Rivers played under control and impressed Gates on defense. More than that, it was nice just to be back, on the court again for the old team with a new look.

Free-Agent Roundup: July 2

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From NBA.com staff reports

The biggest news — other than CP3 staying in Clipperland — from free agency’s opening day wasn’t that big at all. Mostly, a smattering of smaller-name reported signings dotted the map, including Mike Dunleavy to the Bulls, C.J. Watson to the Pacers and Eric Maynor to the Wizards among the notables. There was also Tyreke Evans getting a $44 million offer from Pelicans. As we gear up for Day 2 of free agency, here are some overnight items that you may have missed …:

Bucks, Mavs interested in trade for Bledsoe?

Chris Paul‘s tweet yesterday not only assured Clipper fans that he’ll be in the fold for years to come, but re-opened the door to trading his understudy as well, it seems. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, the Clips are thinking of moving reserve point guard Eric Bledsoe to either the Bucks or Mavs in an effort to land 3-point specialist J.J. Redick or scoring swingman O.J. Mayo.

According to the ESPN.com report, new Clippers coach Doc Rivers wants to keep Bledsoe on the roster, but the Clippers are nonetheless engaged in “live” talks with the Bucks and Mavs regarding trades. The Magic and Raptors may also factor into a Bledsoe deal as the Clips have been in touch with those teams with talks that would land either Arron Afflalo (from Orlando) or high-flying swingman DeMar DeRozan (from Toronto).

The primary driving force behind any trade for Bledsoe is the summer of 2014, which is when he will become a free agent. The Clips are reportedly concerned they wouldn’t be able to match the kind of offer sheet Bledsoe would draw and, thus, lose him to the open market for nothing. As you can tell, this is a fairly complex story, but some details are below:

Sources told ESPN.com that the Clippers have this week exchanged sign-and-trade scenarios with both the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks in potential deals that would bring either J.J. Redick or fellow free agent O.J. Mayo to L.A.

The discussions with Dallas, sources said, center on Mayo, whom the Clippers are said to have contacted in the first few hours of NBA free agency Monday. Talks with the Bucks, meanwhile, center on Redick, with one source close to the process telling ESPN.com that a face-to-face meeting between Redick and the Clippers was imminent, perhaps as soon as Monday night.

The Clippers, in their previous discussions with Orlando and Toronto, have targeted Magic guard Arron Afflalo and Raptors swingman DeMar DeRozan, although it’s not immediately clear what Toronto’s pending trade of Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks does to the Raptors’ ability to stay in the Bledsoe hunt. The Clippers had interest in Bargnani as a potential solution to their lack of floor-spacing shooters.

A trade with any of the known suitors would almost certainly have to include other pieces — such as Caron Butler‘s expiring contract — because Bledsoe is due to make only $2.63 million next season in the final year of his rookie contract.

If they can acquire another player or two Rivers likes, it’s believed he can be convinced to part with Bledsoe before the start of the season. The 23-year-old is eligible for a contract extension before the Halloween deadline for such deals for members of Bledsoe’s draft class.

Yet there’s clearly also a part of Rivers who wants to ignore the conventional wisdom that the Clippers can’t afford to keep Bledsoe as Paul’s backup and try to keep him around for one more season as the ultimate insurance policy for Paul.

The Clippers, with or without Bledsoe, are focused on adding perimeter shooters around Paul and Blake Griffin, sources say, as well as upgrading their perimeter defense.

Blazers interested in Rockets’ Asik?

The acquisition of Thomas Robinson from the Houston Rockets on Sunday could signal the Portland Trail Blazers interest in Rockets’ center Omer Asik, according to Chris Haynes at CSNNW.  

But what’s being overlooked in all this was the Trail Blazers’ willingness to facilitate the deal in order for Houston to free up the necessary cap space to pursue free agent center Dwight Howard.

According to league sources, several teams including the Trail Blazers, are closely monitoring the Omer Asik situation. Reports are out that the 7-0 center is available. If the Rockets get that verbal agreement they so desperately want from Dwight Howard, Asik will be moved.

One source who is tuned-in with how things could develop tells CSNNW.com that the Trail Blazers are in the Rockets’ good graces, which could have an influence on where they choose to ship Asik when it’s time to do so.

(more…)

NBA Players #PrayForBoston



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The shocking events of this afternoon in Boston touched off passionate reactions from folks all over the country and all around the globe, and NBA players were not immune.

With the details on exactly what happened and why at the finish line of Monday’s Boston Marathon still being investigated, the response of players on Twitter was swift and simple. And it echoed the sentiment of a nation.

Everyone is concerned for the citizens of Boston and beyond that have been impacted by this tragedy:

Vasquez, Gordon Give Hornets Some Hope

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Greivis Vasquez deserves a raise — which he’ll get in due time — or the key to the city or, heck, just make him mayor of New Orleans.

The city, and its beleaguered basketball team, couldn’t ask for a better ambassador than the Venezuelan-born point guard who’s leaving his heart and sweat on the floor every night as he emerges as a top talent in the league.

“The biggest thing is I’m getting an opportunity,” said Vasquez, a recent player of the week recipient. “Still, people don’t know about me as much because I’m playing in a small market, which I love. I love this city, I love this team.”

Pretty refreshing stuff from a third-year player just starting to hit his stride for a franchise that’s endured it’s share of hard knocks in recent years — including a hard-luck 7-25 start to this season.

Yet as I wrote after Saturday’s 99-96 overtime win at Dallas, the season really started at that moment. Add Monday’s impressive thumping of the San Antonio Spurs in front of 11,599 that ended a seven-game home losing streak, and Wednesday’s fourth-quarter comeback against the previously streaking Houston Rockets, and the Hornets are on a roll with their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Why the reset on the season?

Because the ridiculously youthful Hornets finally got game-changer and now-healthy shooting guard Eric Gordon in the starting lineup Saturday. It allowed coach Monty Williams to make other changes and roll out the starting five he envisioned.

And this is where Vasquez’s ambassadorial value comes shining through. A 6-foot-6, bearded jolt of energy, smiles, enthusiasm and positivity, his team-first attitude is absolutely contagious. It’s critical to the evolution of this franchise, and no more so than as it relates to Gordon, the 6-foot-3 scoring machine deemed the future of the franchise when New Orleans acquired him in the painful CP3 trade 13 months ago.

“I have a good relationship with Eric and I tell you this, we have been talking a lot,” Vasquez said before Saturday’s comeback victory. “Eric is a pro. I feel him as a player too, because his knee was really bothering him. But now he feels like his teammates got his back, we all got his back. We all know he’s going to make us better and we’re going to make him better. And now, we talked [Friday] night, we’re going to make this situation a great situation. We’re going to start winning games.

“For a guy like that to say that to a guy like me, that means a lot. I’m sure he’s saying that on behalf of the whole team because we’re winners, we want to win and we work. And that has been the main thing of our team, we’re going to work regardless. Whether we lose or win tomorrow we are getting better because our vision is in the future.” (more…)

The Chris Paul Trade, One Year Later

It’s obviously a happy anniversary around Clippers HQ. They’re winning, Chris Paul has been everything they hoped for in performance and personality and every indication is he will re-sign as a free agent in July, and every certainty is that he has done exactly as promised in keeping the contract issue from turning into a hazmat spill the way it did for others in previous years. Raise a toast.

Not you, Hornets.

One year later, New Orleans can say it has moved on from the Paul saga, except that it really hasn’t. The future of Eric Gordon, the centerpiece of the return among existing players, is an unknown. The future of Austin Rivers, drafted with the pick acquired from the Clippers, is an unknown as a rookie in a difficult transition. The future of Al-Farouq Aminu is more encouraging than any time in his two-plus seasons as a pro, which is something, but a small portion of the resolution.

There is no real closure from Dec. 14, 2011, with Paul, along with a pair of second-round picks, going to the Clippers for Gordon, Aminu, Chris Kaman and the Timberwolves’ first-round pick that landed at No. 10. Kaman played 47 of the 66 games last season before leaving as a free agent without the Hornets flipping him into anything, but all other books are open.

Gordon: He is young (24 on Christmas), talented (22.3 points per game in 2010-11), versatile on offense (has range, handles well enough for a shooting guard that some thought he could be a point guard as he entered college in 2007)… and far away. Gordon played nine games last season in his inaugural Hornets campaign and has yet to play in 2012-13 because of a knee injury. There is no timetable for his return.

Rivers: The son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers is the first to say the career turn to becoming a full-time point guard is an adjustment. It’s also just beginning, not only because Austin is one-fourth of the way through his rookie season, but because he will eventually, presumably, have to learn to play in the same backcourt as Gordon. For now, the former Duke standout is averaging seven points, 2.9 assists and 1.4 turnovers in 27.6 minutes while shooting 32.5 percent with 11 starts in 20 games.

Aminu: The No. 8 pick in 2010 by the Clippers has gone from 5.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 20 minutes and 40.2 percent his first two seasons to 9.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 29.3 minutes and 47.2 percent. Although the majority of his success is coming very close to the basket, Aminu hitting any shot, after 39.4 percent as a rookie in L.A. and 41.1 last season in New Orleans, is an important. He was once a top prospect, but he’s still just 22 and could have a future yet at small forward.

Given Gordon’s health and Rivers’ inexperience, it will probably be at least one more anniversary and maybe longer, depending on the Gordon recovery, until any solid read on the deal working out for the Hornets. If they get a starting backcourt for eight or 10 years out of it, that’s a pretty good salvage job from a bad situation. But if Gordon is limping through seasons, plural, it obviously becomes a much different outcome.

Like ‘Sheed Said, ‘Ball Don’t Lie’ (Video)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Rasheed Wallace is famous for lots of things, most notably his colorful, championship-capturing basketball career and also his even more colorful vocabulary when it comes to talking to opponents and officials.

Now New Orleans Hornets rookie Austin Rivers knows exactly why Wallace is so closely associated with the phrase, “Ball Don’t Lie” and all that comes with it:



And we agree with ‘Sheed. He “can yell all he wants.”

It’s good to have you back in the league “Roscoe!”

Pressure On Rivers To Find His Shot




HOUSTON — Everybody has a plan until they get hit. That’s what Mike Tyson used to say.

When the Hornets made him the No. 10 pick in the draft, the plan was for Austin Rivers to settle in as Eric Gordon’s long-term partner in the backcourt.

But with Gordon still having not played a game this season due to a knee injury, there is a burden on Rivers to carry much more of the scoring load. So far, it’s been too heavy a lift.

On the up side, Rivers opened Wednesday night’s game against the Rockets by knocking down a 3-pointer from the left corner and then dropped in a running teardrop down the right side of the lane. Trouble is, he missed five of the other six shots he tried and continues to struggle to find an offensive rhythm.

“I know it’s gonna come,” Rivers said. “So I’m trying not to think about it.”

Hornets rookie Austin Rivers, the No. 10 pick in the 2012 Draft, has had a cool start to his NBA career.

However, everyone else watching the Hornets is. What they see is, through the first five games of the season, Rivers has made only 10 of 40 shots and is just 2-for-10 from behind the 3-point line. He hasn’t made half his shots in a game even once.

“I think he’s doing a decent job,” said New Orleans coach Monty Williams. “He tries to defend. He does what we ask him to do. It’s just that when you’ve been a, quote unquote, explosive scorer your whole life and then you don’t drop 25 to 30, people think you’re struggling.

“There are not many 20 year olds who are going to come in and do that in the NBA. I’m sure he would like to see that ball go in that basket a few more times. I would too. But he’s still doing some things that we like. He causes a lot of problems in pick and roll. He can get to the basket. He’ll figure it out. It just takes some time.”

Rivers puts in extra time shooting after practices, but that’s just a continuation of his habits that made him the national prep player of the year in 2011 and a top gun at Duke in his lone college season.

“I don’t think I’m pressing or trying to do too many much to get myself going,” Rivers said. “Actually, I’m really trying my best not to think about that part of the game at all. I know that I can shoot. I know that I can score. I know what I can do. It will come.”

It’s the outside shot, especially from the deeper NBA 3-point line, that has been most glaring for its ineffectiveness. When Rivers has been able to find the bucket, it’s most often been by getting into open spots to make his runner or by pulling up from mid-range. He’s also been able to attack the basket, draw the defense to him and then set up his teammates.

While Rivers has been known as a scorer throughout his young career, the truth is he has always been more of a volume shooter than a proficient sniper. Last season at Duke he shot just 43.3 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from the shorter 3-point line. Now he’s finding it harder to get all of the shots that he wants. There have always been questions about whether Rivers can be a full-time point guard.

“The one thing that he’s dealing with is scouting reports,” Williams said. “Teams have time to prepare for you. In college you have that. But at Duke they prepare for seven or eight other opponents they have. The league does a really good job of figuring your game out and you’ve got to counter what they’re doing.

“Sometimes they try to take his right hand away. He still can get to wherever he wants to go. Now he’s got to learn how to finish over size. He’s never dealt with the kind of size and athleticism he’s dealing with now. Guys figure it out. That’s just the nature of the NBA.”

Late in Wednesday’s game, Williams switched Rivers defensive assignment from James Harden to Chandler Parsons. The 6-foot-9 Parsons used his height advantage to nail a tough, 20-foot fadeaway with Rivers’ hand in his face.

“What can you do?” Williams said with a shrug. “You can’t guard everyone and I thought Austin had his hand right in his face.”

He’s 6-foot-4, but slighter in build than many of his opponents. He is no longer able to look like the best athlete in any given matchup, even when he isn’t giving up height.

“You always have to adjust,” he said. “I adjusted from high school to college and now I’m adjusting again to the NBA. It’s nothing that’s gonna be a long term. It doesn’t even bother me. I’m getting the looks that I want. I’m getting into the lane at will.

“I’m getting my floaters. I’m getting my mid-range shots. I have had trouble knocking down the 3. It’s stuff that I’ve always been good at and I still am. It’s just that they haven’t started to fall. Yet.”

The longer Gordon is out, the more the heat gets turned up on Rivers now, even if it wasn’t part of the original plan.