It promises to be an exciting summer for Austin Rivers.
The Washington Wizards’ newest acquisition, who is expecting his first child in August, will join the team in Las Vegas to prepare for voluntary workouts with All-Star teammates John Wall and Bradley Beal.
The 25-year-old guard and former lottery pick, dealt to the Wizards last week by the Los Angeles Clippers for center Marcin Gortat, was officially welcomed to the team Monday during a press conference Monday at Capital One Arena.
It’s a new family in more ways than one for Rivers, who was the first player in NBA history to play for his father after Clippers head coach and then-president Glenn “Doc” Rivers traded for him in 2015.
“He was happy for me,” Rivers said of his father’s reaction to the June 26 trade. “He had a hard time talking. He had so much on his mind. He hung the phone and then he texted me because he was like, ‘I just can’t talk. I don’t know what to say right now.'”
Although Rivers only played 61 games last season with the Clippers, he started 59 of them and scored 15 points per game and shot nearly 38 percent from 3-point range.
The Wizards traded for Rivers as a way to spread the floor and become more versatile offensively.
However, the team lost backup forward Mike Scott, whom Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said was a “true professional” the entire season. Scott, who was an unrestricted free agent, coincidentally decided to join the Clippers also, reportedly signing a one-year deal.
The Wizards still need to fill that spot, but in the meantime claimed Thomas Bryant, 20, off waivers from the Los Angeles Lakers. The 6-10 center played 37 games with the South Bay Lakers of the NBA’s G League.
As for Rivers, team President Ernie Grunfeld said he can play with and provide relief for Wall and Beal.
“The way he plays fits in real well with what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Move up and down the floor a little bit more. Switch out on the perimeter. The more players you have that are versatile … the better off you are.
“He plays with high energy and a competitive nature,” Grunfeld said of Rivers.
Rivers has familiarity with Beal and Wall, having played against Beal in the AAU circuit and worked out with in Miami with the same trainer as Wall.
“For me being a scorer and playmaker, [it’s] only going to help” Wall and Beal, he said. “They don’t have to do so much all the time. In fourth quarter, they’re not going to be worn down. They’re going to have a little bit extra energy.”
Rivers wants to continue improving his shooting after ranking among league leaders in shooting percentage for pull-up threes last season, but said his ultimate goal is “coming in to do whatever [the team] needs me to do.”
He joins a playoff-tested team with higher aspirations for the upcoming season, especially with LeBron James headed west to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“It’s really wide open for anybody to take,” Rivers said. “We have a talented group to make things happen. I’m excited to be here.”