As it turned out, Sixers coach Doctor River became the Knicks’ top recruiter in free agency.
The Sixers pegged combo guard Austin River as a prime target for November’s free agency. However, the head coach advised his new employers against it.
Big Rivers, a pre-Nax guard of the 1990s, spent a period of free-agency with his 28-year-old son at his Orlando residence. He helped convince Austin that New York was a fantastic destination.
“I was high on Philly’s list before taking the job,” Doctor River told The Post. “It was one of the guards they wanted. When I took the job, I said, ‘You don’t want that. You got many other things that we have to deal with. ‘
“It’s better for Austin. He’s his own player. Unfortunately for him, being my father, he’s just an easy man to aim for. I’ve felt after the separation, it’s really good for him. is. ”
Rivers coached Austin for a 3 with season with the Clippers. That seemed like enough time. When Nux showed interest last month, the doctor lobbied for his son to accept his offer and play for the franchise he had held from 1992–94.
“I was telling him, ‘New York is a great place,”‘ Doctor Rivers said. “I had a great experience there. This is what I shared with him. It is a difficult city – in a positive way. He said, ‘What does this mean?’ I said, ‘This is similar to Boston and Philly. His fans are genuine. They want you to work hard, give you everything you can and play like a team. ‘
“I told him, ‘Knicks fan is still a Red Holzman Knicks fan. He remembers how basketball was played. They want team basketball, hard-nosed, tough basketball.'”
During the zoom interview last week, Austin Rivers was asked if the Sixers were on his radar.
“In terms of playing for my father, it was a wonderful experience that I and he got to do,” he said. “But he was.”
Ironically, Rivers was won by former Nucks president Phil Jackson as the 2015 Clippers free agent. At the time, Doc Rivers made sure to keep his son in LA, offering an extra year compared to Nux.
Now that Doc River wants him in New York, he feels he can make his appearance with Tom Thibodo’s Knicks.
Thibodo won an NBA title in 2008 on the Rivers staff in Boston. Thibodo came to know Austin only because the son lived in Orlando. Rivers and Thibodo discuss Austin during free agency.
“Tom just likes competing players – always has,” said Doc River. “We’re very similar – give us 12 contestants, we’ll figure it out. Whenever we talked about Austin – and we’ll do very little now – Thebes loves contestants.”
After playing as a Rocket reserve the last two seasons, Rivers will have a shot to start at point guard. However, the Knicks feel he has a better game finishing chance.
“It’s a young roster,” Doctor Rivers said. “Now he is a veteran. Which is wonderful to get my head around. But just be an example-setter, come in, stay fit, play aggressive and everything else will work. This is why I see him with this group – to really determine one hell of an example. He has his ups and downs and he is still here. One alone can be a great teacher for these youth.
Rivers will see their son soon. The Knicks Garden opener is against sixes on 26 December.
Another factor that excited Doctor River would be the 90-minute train ride from Austin and his 2-year-old grandson Kayden.
If the Garden reopens to fans, Doc Rivers said he would happily watch from the stand. Incredibly, he has only been seen playing his son as a parent / fan in the NBA three times – Austin’s second season in New Orleans when the Clippers hurried and twice to the city during the classic 2018 Rockets-Warriors playoff series. have to go.
“If I can’t go to the game, I’ll be in New York the day I spend time with my grandchildren,” Rivers said. “It is a good thing. I was excited because I played there. And I told him, ‘If you get it fixed, there is no better place to fix it.’ “