The Clippers shipped guard Austin Rivers for centre Marcin Gortat on Tuesday in a swap of expiring contracts that makes sense for both teams.
For Los Angeles, the trade clears up some of the clutter at the guard position after the team selected Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson in the draft last week, adding to a group that already includes Lou Williams, Milos Teodosic and Patrick Beverley.
Rivers’ departure means the end of the first situation in NBA history where a player has been coached by his father, which came to fruition when Doc Rivers traded a second-round pick to the Boston Celtics for his son in January 2015.
The elder Rivers received criticism for nepotism, while Austin caught grief for being under the protection of his dad, which he touched upon in his farewell Instagram post.
Rivers wrote: “I know the scenario of me playing for my pops wasn’t easy for people to understand and accept ….some never will, but to the ones who did… I can’t thank you enough. Me and pops did something that has never been done in our sport!! Which was hard for a lot of people to understand but I am grateful for the time I experienced playing for him and the clippers.”
Wow, I really don’t know where to start or how to put all of my emotions and feelings into words . But I’ll just start out by saying Thank You, first and foremost to the city of LA and to the fans of the LA Clippers. You have done nothing but show me love and positivity. The acceptance you gave me along with taking a chance on me 4 years ago, means the world to me! At that time I hadn’t shown much in the league....and was still trying to learn . And for you all to accept me and give me a chance to grow and play means more than you will ever know. People really don’t understand what positivity can do for someone’s confidence. And to the clippers fan base.... I really appreciate you all helping me find my confidence in the league and cheering me along the way. I know the scenario of me playing for my pops wasn’t easy for people to understand and accept ....some never will, but to the ones who did... I can’t thank you enough. Me and pops did something that has never been done in our sport!! Which was hard for a lot of people to understand but I am grateful for the time I experienced playing for him and the clippers. I want to thank all of my team mates aka my brothers. I Really appreciate y’all helping me grow as a player and a person! I also want to thank all of the coaches and all of the staff of the clippers organization! A lot of you don’t get the credit you deserve! From the great training staff, to all the people that make our job and life that much easier, I really am thankful!! Always will love LA and consider it a home! Thanks -AR25 M.o.a.M
After struggling to find his place in the NBA at the time of his arrival in Los Angeles, Rivers made himself into a useful role player with the Clippers and averaged a career-high in minutes (33.7), points (15.1), assists (4.0), rebounds (2.4), steals (1.2) and 3-point percentage (37.8) this past season.
With the Wizards, he’ll join the talented backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal as a player who can come off the bench for reliable minutes – something Washington haven’t had at the guard position in recent years.
“Acquiring Austin gives us another versatile, experienced player who provides scoring and playmaking,” Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement. “He is coming off a career year and his ability to create offence for himself and others will help our second unit and allow us to play a variety of lineups throughout the season.”
With Gortat gone, that leaves a massive void at the centre position, where only Ian Mahinmi remains. That could make Washington aggressors for Dwight Howard, who is expected to be bought out from the Brooklyn Nets after being traded by the Charlotte Hornets last week.
Even after moving Gortat, the Wizards remain over the salary cap, but Howard may be willing to join for the mid-level exception, which Washington can still offer as a taxpayer team.
The trade could also impact the future of another centre – DeAndre Jordan.
The Clippers may have acquired Gortat as a replacement to Jordan, who can opt out of his $24.1 million contract by Friday’s deadline.
Even if Jordan decides to play out the final year of his deal, Los Angeles could explore trades for the big man this summer or before February’s trade deadline.
There were rumours the Clippers were exploring deals for Jordan this past season. His skillset is limited, but the 29-year-old, who is coming off a campaign in which he averaged 12.0 points 15.2 rebounds, is one of the best lob threats and rebounders in the league.
For both the Clippers and Wizards, this trade is likely the first domino before a string of more moves.
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