The signings have been suspected and rumored for several days, and in the case of Austin Rivers, it always seemed logical that he would remain with the Los Angeles Clippers, but as of today it is official: the team has announced that Rivers and Cole Aldrich are both signed.
Here's the press release from the team:
The L.A. Clippers announced today the team has signed guard Austin Rivers and center Cole Aldrich.
Rivers, 22, returns to the Clippers after appearing in 41 regular season games (two starts) with the team last season, averaging 7.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists following a Jan. 15, 2015 trade from the Boston Celtics. In the first Playoff action of his career, Rivers played in all 14 postseason games, averaging 8.4 points and 1.1 assists while providing 16 points in a crucial Game 4 win over San Antonio and leading the team with 25 points, six rebounds and two assists in a Game 3 victory over Houston.
The 10th selection in the 2012 NBA Draft by New Orleans, Rivers appeared in 165 career games for the Pelicans (33 starts), averaging 6.9 points, 2.3 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 21.4 minutes before being traded to Boston on Jan. 12.
A stand-out at Duke University for one season in 2011-12, Rivers averaged 15.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 34 games.
Aldrich, 26, joins the Clippers after spending the last two seasons with the New York Knicks. Last season he averaged 5.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 61 games (16 starts). The 6-foot-11 center has appeared in 196 total games with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Knicks and has career averages of 3.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in 196 games.
Originally drafted with the 11th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Hornets, Aldrich spent three seasons at the University of Kansas. The Bloomington, Minnesota native was a perfect 55-0 as a Jayhawk at home and was named the 2009 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus Second-Team All American in 2010.
As we've discussed ad nauseam, the Clippers are limited in terms of adding players this summer because of the fact that they are way over the salary cap. At this point, barring a trade, they can only pay the minimum or re-sign their own free agents, and what we have here is one of each.
Rivers is of course the son of the coach and the GM creating one of the great conflicts of interest in league history, since Doc Rivers just agreed to pay his kid $6.4M over the next two seasons, an amount that would have been unthinkable six months ago.
Doc is actually lucky that he was limited to the amount of the declined fourth year option of $3.1M per for Doogie -- in this summer's market, that's not terrible, and he didn't have to justify trying to pay more since the rules would not have allowed it. Rivers likely could have gotten more elsewhere (based on this crazy market and the fact that he had two nice playoff games -- looked what that did for Al-Farouq Aminu) but is betting on himself and hoping to get an even bigger payday next summer (the second year on his contract is a player option). Point guards like Eric Bledsoe to Darren Collison have done pretty well for themselves learning from and even playing with Chris Paul.
Over and above the fact that their lack of flexibility made Rivers by far their best option for this roster spot, this is otentially a very good signing. While his first couple of the seasons had bust written all over them, Austin showed flashed in his half a season in LA of the skills that made him a lottery pick. He has always been able to get to the rim -- but in New Orleans he just couldn't do anything once he got there. But if he can continue to develop his runners and tear drops (shots that often take time to perfect) he's got some headroom. He's also a good defender and rebounder fr his size. The Clippers have mostly featured older, established bench players the last few years -- having a 23 year old still finding his game is not a bad thing for this team. The playoff game against Houston where he scored 18 points in six minutes might be fool's gold -- but the very fact that he was capable of doing that is something.
Aldrich is getting the veteran's minimum, so if you're not thrilled with his game, well, no one else in the NBA was either or he would have gotten more. He's big, he's a decent shot blocker, he even has a little touch around the basket and his per 36 minute numbers in New York last season were actually really, really solid (12.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks). The big problem as I see it is that the NBA game is fast making lumbering centers obsolete. Still, it's also necessary to have some size on the bench for when you face size -- so Aldrich is a good signing if only for the times that DeAndre Jordan gets into foul trouble against the likes of Mark Gasol or Dwight Howard. My guess is that Aldrich will get perhaps 10 minutes per game in the regular season -- then get glued to the bench in the playoffs when things get real.
We had already included both Rivers and Aldrich in our roster post last week, so if you want to see what the roster looks like, check out that post.