The Clippers reported trade offer for New York Knicks‘ Carmelo Anthony centered around Austin Rivers. He’s having his best season.
- New York Knicks (22-31)
- Los Angeles Clippers (31-21)
- Wednesday, Feb. 8, 8:00 p.m. ET
- Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Phil Jackson can try all he wants, but he isn’t getting Kevin Love or Blake Griffin in a trade for Carmelo Anthony. The best the New York Knicks can hope for might be Austin Rivers. The 24-year-old is having the best season of his career.
Rivers is posting career-highs of 12.1 points and 2.8 assists while averaging career-high shooting percentages of 43.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three-point range. The three-point shooting has been a gift. Entering the 2016-17 season, Rivers was a career 32.9 percent shooter from downtown.
Since taking over as a starter on Jan. 19, Rivers’ numbers have increased to 16.9 points and 4.1 assists while playing 35.1 minutes in nine games.
His defense is still a problem. Rivers is ranked 73rd out of 86 point guards in defensive real plus-minus, but he’s made improvements in that are too. Not huge ones by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s a better defensive player than Derrick Rose. Unlike Rose, Rivers works hard. Watch how hard he fights to get over this screen.
The two will go head to head tonight.
Rivers’ Clippers are in New York to take on Anthony’s Knicks. The coach’s son is already familiar with the franchise. Rivers spoke to Marc Berman of The New York Post about his free agency meeting with Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson.
“They came down to my house in Orlando,’’ Rivers said. “I nailed it down to three teams, but went back to this team. They were a huge option. That was a team I was really considering. I liked Jeff. Never talked to Phil like that until that meeting.
“Sitting down with Phil Jackson was cool for me. I never really met him, talking about one of the most knowledgeable greats. You got to understand my rookie year, my first two years, nobody even wanted me. To go from that to work where I could choose where I wanted to go — with four, five, six teams to nail it down to that — meant a lot to me to show hard work has paid off. It’s been all great.”
“Jeff had a vision of an up-tempo [team] the way he coached that Suns team,’’ Rivers added. “He wanted to get up and down, and thought me and Derrick could play together and really get up and down and start at the 1 and 2.”
Per Berman, the Knicks thought Rivers could be their starting shooting guard. They went with Courtney Lee instead. The rest is history.
Tonight could be an audition for Austin Rivers. The Knicks are obviously interested in him, and his father has already admitted he’d trade him in the right deal. The improving Rivers would be a nice fit in New York, but Jackson needs more.