Austin Rivers during Zoom call
Let’s just go ahead and call Knicks new point guard Austin Rivers the spokesperson of the team already this season.
Perhaps channeling his father, legendary coach Doc Rivers, through him, the veteran guard made some very valid points about why he decided to sign his one-year deal with the Knicks this offseason. It revolves around his want to not ride a wave, but rather try to help make something special in the Big Apple.
“I think we’re caught in an era where everybody likes riding a wave and people want to go to places that are already on the rise or go to teams and franchises that are doing really well and people have lost interest in going somewhere and making it great again,” Rivers told reporters via Zoom in his first media availability since joining New York. “So I don’t understand someone not wanting to play for a city like New York. I just didn’t get that. I still don’t understand that.
“So for me, the opportunity was obvious. To play, like Alec [Burks] alluded to, the city that is the mecca of basketball with fans that they have, why not try to be a part of something special? Everything right now is headed in the right direction from the hiring of the coach and hiring of the management and assistant coaches and picks they drafted and players they established this year. They’re building.”
Very strong words from Rivers, but ones that really make sense when you view the NBA landscape at the moment. Some players are focused on joining already established title contenders when they hit the free agent market. And the Knicks have not been an attractive destination to some for reasons that have been debated about for over a decade. Just look at who Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving decided to choose…
Rivers has been a part of those playoff teams, whether it was the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Clippers. The 28-year-old wanted to turn things in a different direction for his own career, but also for the city of New York – a city that has been dying for a team they can be proud of.
“It’s easy to go somewhere where everything is already set up and they’ve been to the playoffs four, five years in a row,” Rivers explained. “I’ve been on those teams and those are great experiences. But I want to take those experiences and those lessons and help this team and this organization in as many ways possible.”
Rivers understands there’s a lot to do to make the Knicks competitive gain, but as he said, the team is moving in the right direction. He praised new head coach Tom Thibodeau and also touched on the front office having everything in place.
Now it comes down to the product on the floor, something he knows he can influence. With a load of point guards on the roster, Rivers figures to be one of the frontrunners to land the starting job given his pedigree.
And he appears fully determined to make that impact on the court after stating what the team’s job really is this season.
“That era of not wanting to come here, our job is to change that. We got to make it attractive,” he said.