Austin Rivers speaks to his father, Clippers coach Doc Rivers, after coming back a quarter after having his eye busted up by an errant elbow delivered by Portland’ Al-Farouq Aminu this past Friday in the Clippers’ Game 6 loss at Moda Center in Portland/AP photo by Craig Mitchelldyer
Austin Rivers at some point may actually want to thank Al-Farouq Aminu of the Portland Trail Blazers. It was an errant elbow by Aminu in the second quarter of the Clippers’ season-ending 106-103 Game 6 loss at Portland on Friday that busted up the left eye of Rivers.
Rivers missed a quarter of action and came back with 11 stitches around the nearly shut eye. He went on to play an almost-unbelievable game, under the circumstances. He scored 21 points, grabbed six rebounds and had eight assists.
Rivers has a player option for $3,344,106 for next season. Considering he made $3,110,796 this season, it’s not likely he’ll exercise it, not with Game 6 now in his negotiating bag. His father, Doc Rivers, is head coach and president of basketball operations for the Clippers, The elder Rivers was asked Monday if his son’s stock rose with his gallant performance, which was made possible by Aminu.
“I don’t know,” Doc Rivers said. But the more he spoke, the more it was obvious his son had put himself in a desirable position because of the courage he displayed.
“It’s funny how blinded coaches are, like during the game,” Doc Rivers said. “I was yelling at JP (Jasen Powell) the trainer, like, ‘Where the hell is Austin?’ ”
He was getting stitches in his eye.
“I thought the doctors were taking forever to do what … I didn’t know what they were doing,” Doc Rivers said. “And then when he came out, I looked at his eye, but I just said, ‘You ready?’ And then he went out and played. And I think because of the way he was playing, I wasn’t thinking about his eye.”
It hit him following the loss, though.
“Then after the game, obviously, I mean, when you look at it now, you think, ‘Wow, don’t know if I would have done that, or could have done that,’ ” Doc Rivers said. “And so that was good. It was good for him. But that’s who he is. That’s what makes him good.
“It’s not just his defense, it’s just his toughness.”
Doc Rivers would not get into specifics, other than to say his son is one of the players on the team he expects will “get deals this summer, and we’re hoping they’re here.”
The salary cap is an issue. The Clippers – not including player options – have roughly $78 million in guaranteed contracts for 2016-17, when the cap is expected to rise to about $89 million. Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute, Jeff Green, Pablo Prigioni and Jeff Ayers are free agents and Cole Aldrich and Wes Johnson have player options, so there are those considerations.
One thing’s certain, Doc Rivers is proud as a peacock.
“More, I guess, the next day because of all the texts and calls,” he said. “I got a lot of calls from other coaches around the league. They kept saying, ‘Your son,’ and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s cool.’ “