Before breaking a sweat in a Houston Rockets uniform, Austin Rivers addressed the so-called “beef” between he and former Clippers teammate Chris Paul.
As soon as the news broke that Austin Rivers signed with Houston, a lot of Rockets fans had similar reactions.
Don’t Austin Rivers and Chris Paul hate each other? Didn’t Paul lead his teammates through the secret tunnels of Staples Center in a planned post-game attack on Austin Rivers in January of 2018? Could the bad blood between these two players spoil the camaraderie in the locker room?
Well, it looks like the media blew the “beef” between Paul and Rivers out of proportion. Austin Rivers told reporters that he and Chris are cool and that if they had real problems, he would’ve taken his talents elsewhere, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
“I have no problems with Chris, as you guys will see. Obviously, if I had a problem with Chris I wouldn’t be here. Chris has a huge input on this team as he should. He’s a Hall of Fame point guard. If that was that serious, I wouldn’t be here. That will show you that’s not real.”
Rivers isn’t a volume mid-range shooters, as most of his points come in the paint or from beyond the arc. His game closely mirrors Houston’s style of play, so he thinks he’ll fit in well with the Rockets, via Jonathan Feigen.
“That’s all I want to do in terms of offensively. I shot two mid-range jump shots this season. My old teammates in DC would give me crap about that. It’s not that I refuse; I just don’t shoot them.
“That was the first thing they told me. ‘We want to shoot 3s and layups.’ You’ll get no arguments out of me.”
With Chris Paul sidelined due to a hamstring injury, the Rockets will obviously need their other guards to step up. Brandon Knight has already played in six games since his debut with the Rockets, but he is on a minutes restriction and he hasn’t looked like his old self.
Austin Rivers can come off the bench and contribute immediately as a backup point guard. He’ll be able to take a lot of pressure off of Eric Gordon when James Harden is on the bench. He can handle the ball and run the offense, which is exactly what the Rockets will need in Paul’s absence over the next two or three weeks.
Just last season, Rivers averaged a career high 15.1 points and 4.0 assists per game with the Clippers. After Paul left Los Angeles in the summer of 2017, Rivers took over the starting role and played the best basketball of his career. Hopefully Rivers can step up a second time during Paul’s absence and help the Rockets climb the standings in the Western Conference.