How Austin Rivers is finding a home with the Houston Rockets

Photo by Bill Baptist/Getty Images
Photo by Bill Baptist/Getty Images /

Despite being signed by the Houston Rockets just several days ago, Austin Rivers has managed to provide his new squad with an instant boost as of late.

Just two and a half weeks ago, Austin Rivers found himself sitting in the confines of his home for several days, after receiving some news that would alter the course of his season just before the holidays.

The 26-year-old guard — who appeared in 29 games with the Washington Wizards this year —  was shipped out and immediately waived as part of a three-player trade with the Phoenix Suns. The seven-year veteran found himself out of basketball for the first time in his professional career, wondering where he might land.

"“It taught me to never take basketball for granted, ever,” Rivers told reporters nearly a week after being waived and giving back $650,000 as part of his contract buyout with Phoenix. “You don’t realize how much you love something until it is taken away from you a little bit.“When you get waived, and you sit there for five to six days trying to figure out where you’re playing at, it’s a stressful time.”"

Now, Rivers appears to have discovered a comfortable landing spot, as the former lottery pick has swiftly risen from recent adversity to provide immediate help to the Houston Rockets.

Rivers — who signed with the Rockets just two days prior to Christmas — has supplied his new teammates with a much-needed spark off the bench, averaging 10.6 points and 3.9 assists per 36 minutes through his first three outings in Clutch City.

"“He definitely gives us some grit,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “He’s a tough guy. He’ll hit big shots. He’s not afraid of the moment.“Those are all good things you’ve got to have for a good team.”"

Although it still remains to be seen how the 6’4″, 200-pound product will perform the rest of the way, Rockets faithful should be mightily impressed by Rivers’ small sample size of work thus far, as the player who once was a former emotional foe to the franchise has proven to be a solid fit in Mike D’Antoni’s system.

Despite only having a few practices to gain familiarity within his new regime, Rivers has managed to be quite effective late in games for Houston, knocking down several spot-up shots and helping get key critical defensive stops. Sub-Zero’s presence, alongside Eric Gordon and James Harden, has given the Rockets an opportunity to finish contests with a three-guard lineup in the wake of Chris Paul‘s hamstring injury.

He also provides another quality playmaker in the process, arguably making Rivers the most valuable gift that the Rockets were able to receive prior to the start of the new year.

"“He’s a really good defender,” Harden told reporters shortly after Houston acquired Rivers last week. “He can shoot the ball well. He can make plays and handle it.“Obviously, with the guys that are out, with him being basically free it was a no-brainer. He’s going to have more than enough opportunities.”"

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Rivers and the Rockets will seek to take advantage of an off day, prior to taking on Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.