Earlier this summer Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reported that the Boston Celtics had an interest in free agent guard Austin Rivers. The Celtics have two open roster spots after waiving forward Justin Champagnie (who has since signed with the Heat).
Last season the Celtics had three guards rotating throughout the game between Derrick White, Malcolm Brogdon, and Marcus Smart. With Smart now in Memphis, the Celtics are one “starter-worthy” guard short.
This is a significant offseason for Payton Pritchard, who decided to play on the USA Select Team prior to training camp in October. Last season, Joe Mazzulla used Pritchard sparingly throughout the regular season because of the depth the Celtics had at the position which led to reports of Pritchard wanting a trade -- not because he was unhappy with Boston, but rather because he wanted to play.
Whether Mazzulla will give Pritchard many minutes this season remains to be seen, but if Mazzulla desires more depth or a more effective defensive guard, Brad Stevens may contact one of the better free agent options. Boston can offer Rivers a veteran minimum deal of around $2 million.
The former Blue Devil is entering his 12th season in the league after being the 10th pick in the 2012 draft. Rivers, who was known for his offensive prowess in high school and college, is now more of an on-ball, defense-first player.
In 52 games with the Timberwolves last season, Rivers had a defensive rating of 117.4. With the loss of Smart, Mazzulla may think of bringing in a veteran who can help bolster the backcourt and bridge the defensive gap left by Smart.
The below tweet is from the 2022 playoffs when Rivers was with the Nuggets and had a great defensive performance against the Warriors.
An Austin Rivers defense appreciation post. Effort, yes. But attention to detail and communication stood out to me. And refusing to be screened in DHO action on steal #4?! Brilliant stuff. #Nuggets pic.twitter.com/23Kr2p3ifL— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) April 25, 2022
Earlier this summer, Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports, reported that the Celtics were interested in Patrick Beverley. Instead, Beverley signed with the Philadelphia Sixers. If the Celtics want a defensive guard, one of the better defensive guards left on the market is Rivers.
Rivers, who has played for seven teams in his career, has career averages of 8.5 points, 0.7 steals, 2 assists, and 2 rebounds. In his career Rivers shoots 41.9% from the field and 34.9% from three.
Boston may be his most viable option to win a ring. It would be fitting if Rivers came to Boston to win a championship which would be Boston’s first since his father coached the Celtics to Banner 17 in 2008.