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Doc Rivers hopes to have Austin back for next season

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Doc Rivers knows that pitching a contract to soon-to-be free agent Austin Rivers will be easy - he could call his wife, and Austin's mother.

Rivers told the media on Friday that he is eager to have Austin back as part of the Los Angeles Clippers next season.

"He's young and he clearly helped us, I think we all have to agree with that," Doc said. "And I think he loved it here. I even think he liked the coach at times."

The elder Rivers admitted that he was hesitant when general manager Dave Wohl first advised him to acquire Austin, signing Jordan Farmar instead. Austin was later added to the team by trading Farmer for him at the trade deadline.

"It was a gamble for me personally. It was just a tough one for me. I was on the other side of not wanting to do it, and I'm glad I listened to people for a change. I wasn't so stubborn," explained Doc. "I give Dave Wohl credit, before the season started and we signed Jordan or anyone, he wanted that to happen and I didn't hear any of that.

"In retrospect, it would have been nice to have him the whole year. It would have been better. That was a mistake. I probably should have."

Austin may have given Clippers fans a hearty laugh with a few flubs during the regular season, but the playoffs gave him an opportunity to flourish before Los Angeles was eliminated. Game 5 against the Houston Rockets was Austin's shining moment, finishing with 25 points, six rebounds, and two assists in 23 minutes.

It may be more difficult than anticipated to get Austin to sign on the dotted line with the Clippers. Since the New Orleans Pelicans declined Austin's fourth-year option at the start of the season, the Clippers are not allowed to pay him more than $3.1 million, no matter what. Therefore, Rivers may have to convince his son to take a pay cut.

"His contract is tough for us because the whole league has an advantage, if you know the contractual part of him with the trade," said Rivers. "We can only pay him a certain amount and everyone else can pay him whatever they want. I don't get how that's a rule in our league, but it is. It's funny, we brought this up in the competition committee a year ago, and now it's coming back at me, so it'll be his choice, obviously, what he wants to do."

That does not change Rivers' determination to see Austin in a Clippers jersey next season.

"I really want him back and I think it would be great to have him back, and I think he's a great fit for this team. But business is business and it'll be an interesting thing this summer."

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