His father, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, played a big role in helping Rivers decide on a new team for the 2020-21 season, according to The New York Post’s Marc Berman. It will be Doc Rivers first season coaching the Sixers, but he persuaded his son to join the Knicks instead of playing for him.
“He was high on Philly’s list before I took the job,’’ Doc Rivers told The New York Post. “It was one of the guards they wanted. When I took the job, I said, ‘You don’t want that. You got too many other things we have to deal with.’
“For Austin it’s better. He’s his own player. Unfortunately for him, me being the dad, he’s just an easy guy to target. I have felt since the separation, it’s been really good for him.’’
Rivers played under his dad for three and half seasons from 2015-18 with the Los Angeles Clippers, before playing the last two years with the Houston Rockets.
The 28-year-old will take on a veteran role with a young Knicks team after being a key player off the bench for the Rockets. His father saw that as a great opportunity for the former Duke star.
“It’s a young roster,’’ Doc Rivers told the New York Post. “Now he’s a veteran. Which is amazing to get my head around. But just be an example-setter, come in, fit in, play aggressive and everything else will work out. That’s how I see him with this group — to really set a hell of an example. He’s had ups and downs and he’s still here. That alone can be a great teacher for these young guys.”
It’s been difficult for Doc Rivers to see his son play games while coaching, attending just three games as a fan over his eight-year career. Although, a bonus reason for pushing his son to join the Knicks was the close distance to his two-year-old grandson, Kayden.
“Even if I can’t go to games, I’ll be in New York on an off day spending time with my grandson,’’ Rivers told The New York Post. “It’s a cool thing. I was excited because I played there. And I told him, ‘If you get it right there, there’s no better place to get it right.’ ”