Austin Rivers doesn't understand why people don't want to play for the Knicks

Austin Rivers says he actually wants to play for the Knicks.
Austin Rivers says he actually wants to play for the Knicks.
Image: AP

The red carpet rolled out overnight for Anthony Davis, who re-signed with the reigning NBA champs LA Lakers for a whopping five-years, $190 million.

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But don’t tell Austin Rivers.

 Rivers, 28, is sitting on his high horse after signing with the “esteemed* New York Knicks. Kinda crazy that a little more than a decade ago, LeBron James was considering signing with this club.

These days, the Knicks, on the other end of the spectrum, are lucky to get any free agents who give them a serious look.

The team’s best attribute on the court the last few years has been their city addition jersey.

They give you the Darth Vader feel. Those uniforms bring a level of intimation superior to their play.

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But anyway, the Knicks are sorta moving in the right direction. Rivers signing with the Knicks is fascinating for several reasons.

The obvious: You’re signing with the Knicks in the year 2020. The team hasn’t lured a formative free agent to the big apple in at least a decade. So why play there?

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His father, Doc’s, ties to the franchise. Doc played an intricate role in the Knicks team that competed for the ‘93-‘94 NBA title.

Rivers likely won’t be able to duplicate that. But something Rivers said during his opening press conference stood out to me about why he chose New York.

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Rivers said he had three or four playoff teams vying for his services this off-season but chose a lottery team like the Knicks because...

“We’re caught in an era where everyone likes riding a wave,” Rivers said in a Zoom call. “People want to go to places that are already on the rise and going to franchises that are already doing really well. And people have lost interest in going somewhere and making something great again. I don’t understand someone not wanting to play for a city like New York. I just don’t get that. I don’t understand that. For me, the opportunity was obvious. In a city that is regarded as the mecca of basketball with the fans they have. Why not try to be part of something special?”

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I get what he is saying. Since 2008, we’ve been in the era of player-lead super teams. Everyone wants to pile as many superstars on a roster to make a run at a chip. So I get that, but the Knicks are not the New York team of old.

Sure, New York City is the Mecca of basketball… but they’re far from a championship level franchise.

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Really far.

There is so much ineptitude dripping from top to bottom of the franchise, we have to stop associating the Knicks with the “peak” of anything basketball until James Dolan sells the team.

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To Rivers’ defense, this might also be about which team will pay him the most. His deal with the Knicks is for three-years $10 million, which is slightly more than the almost $2 million a year he was making with the Houston Rockets.

It’s possible no other team was willing to go past $3 million a year. If that’s true, it sorta makes sense why he chose the Knicks. Depending on which playoff teams offered him, it might not have been worth it to join them anyway.

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On the positive side, the Knicks should be grateful that given how much of a hit their brand has taken in the last decade, someone like Rivers still believes in them.

They’ve given him zero assurances they know what they’re doing, but hey, if he sees a sliver of hope, am I to judge?

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Yes, I am. Because I’m not sure where the hope comes from.

Rivers is doing a positive PR mop up for them even if it gets messy again once the season starts at the end of the month.

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All you can do is respect it. Good luck to Austin in draining a slushy Knicks mess.