Doc Rivers Helped Sell Austin Rivers On Playing ‘Hard-Nosed, Tough Basketball’ In New York

The New York Knicks did not have the lofty free agent goals they have in years past, instead opting to go about their business and acquire a handful of veterans to put alongside some of their younger players. One such dude who fits this bill is Austin Rivers, as he moved from Houston to the Big Apple on a three-year deal worth about $10 million.

New York wasn’t the only team that wanted to acquire this services, as a new piece by Marc Berman of the New York Post indicates that the Philadelphia 76ers had him on their list of players to acquire. That did not come to fruition, though, in part because Rivers’ father, Sixers coach Doc Rivers, helped sell him on playing in New York.

“I kept telling him, ‘New York is a great place,’’ Rivers said. “I had a great experience there. That’s what I shared with him. It’s a tough city — in a positive way. He said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ I said, ‘It’s similar to Boston and Philly. Their fans are real. They want you to play hard, give you everything you can and play like a team.’

“I told him, ‘The Knicks fans are still Red Holzman’s Knicks fans. They remember how that basketball was played. They want team basketball, hard-nosed, tough basketball.’”

Doc, who played for the Knicks from 1992-94, and Austin apparently stayed together in Orlando during free agency, at which point the pair discussed the younger Rivers potentially going to the Knicks. The elder Rivers apparently discussed his son with current Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau as well, telling his former assistant that, “Whenever we talked about Austin — and we will a lot less now — Thibs loves competitors.’’

As for that earlier thing about Austin going to Philly, Pittsburgh will remain the only city in Pennsylvania where prominent rivers come together. Doc explained that he was clued in on the team’s interest but talked them out of it.

“He was high on Philly’s list before I took the job,’’ Rivers said. “It was one of the guards they wanted. When I took the job, I said, ‘You don’t want that. You got too many other things we have to deal with.’

“For Austin it’s better. He’s his own player. Unfortunately for him, me being the dad, he’s just an easy guy to target. I have felt since the separation, it’s been really good for him.’’

Austin famously played for Doc for three and a half years with the Clippers. Their relationship was frequently the source of much intrigue, and not always for the better. Perhaps that wouldn’t have been as prominent of an issue in Philly, but when it comes to Austin’s next team, father knows best.