Erik Olsgaard (@TheOlsgaard): Austin showed great progress this year and really started to come into his own late in the season. He's shown to be a plus defender and, while streaky from the perimeter, a generally decent scorer. He's got good length for his size and never seems "too small." That said, he's still a really unreliable shooter, both from deep and from the stripe. Also, his value's now been broadcast across the league after his amazing performances during this year's playoff series against Portland.
My guess is that he's going to be a bit more expensive than the Clippers would like. Even though the Clips can technically pay him up to the max, thanks to owning his full Bird rights, overpaying Austin could be problematic with Jeff Green and Jamal Crawford needing contracts, as well. Unless, of course, the Clippers decide to completely reset the bench, in which case none of these guys will be back, but that seems unlikely given how little cap space is available. I say bring him back.
Niels Pineda (@NielsPineda): Although Austin's offense scares me, he is without a doubt the bench player I want the Clippers to retain the most. I believe that his progress has been steady with the team, and if he can improve his decision-making a bit (which is definitely in his reach) he will be a very solid backup combo guard. His defense alone makes him a pretty solid asset.
All that being said, I have a few drawbacks. Especially after his last game he is looking at a pretty decently sized payday, and deservedly so. It's hard to gauge how much anyone will get in this market (aside from the clear max players), but my guess is that Austin will make more than I am comfortable with. The other problem isn't specific to him, but rather to the rest of the bench. I'm simply not a fan of Austin and Jamal, but I also known that is likely going to be our backup backcourt. It's unfortunate, but at the end of the day, I think we have to retain Austin at almost all costs. However, if renouncing Rivers/Jeff Green/Jamal Crawford had to be done in order to make a play at a bigger name, then I would probably say go for that.
Taylor Smith (@TaylorBojangles): Unless another team gets desperate and throws some ludicrous offer his way, I have a hard time imagining Austin Rivers not being a part of the Clippers next season. His offensive limitations make him better suited to play the two spot, but he's versatile enough on defense to stick as a major part of the rotation. I think retaining Rivers while upgrading the true backup point guard spot over Pablo Prigioni is the way the Clips should approach the backcourt this summer.
Doc said just after the season ended that he'd like to run it back with most of the same guys next season, and it's safe to assume his own son will be a high priority. It'll be fascinating to see what kind of interest Austin draws from around the league once he hits the open market. The Clippers surely think highly of him as a talented (and still young) asset, but how much better is he going to get? That's the question any interested team is going to have to ask before deciding whether or not to try and money-whip him away from Los Angeles.
The possibility exists that Austin could give the Clips a hometown discount, but you have to think he's ready to finally cash-in after being the subject of so much ridicule throughout his first several pro seasons. If I'm the Clippers the idea of shelling out $10 million or more annually to him would give me major pause.
Robert Flom (@RichHomieFlom): Austin Rivers was the only young rotation player on the Clippers roster this past season, and the only one who really has a possibility to significantly improve. He went from one of the worst rookie seasons ever to very bad to streaky all the way to a solid combo guard. Do I think he is gonna become a starting quality player? Not really. But there is still a chance he does, and even if he doesn't, he is a perfectly fine 7th or 8th man. He plays defense, he can attack the basket, and when he gets hot from outside he is legitimately dangerous. There is a lot of value in that.
The main issue then becomes one of price. The Clippers have his Bird rights, meaning they can pay him as much as they (or he) want. Unfortunately, that is going to be quite a lot. There are tons of teams out there with cap space who will want to take a chance on Austin, as well (the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks come to mind immediately), and they might offer more than the Clippers are willing to. Of course, the Clippers do have several advantages, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Austin sign for a lower amount than he might get elsewhere. Realistically, I think he is worth around a 4/40 contract in the new NBA, and I believe (and hope) that it is the Clippers who will give it to him.