NBA free agent Austin Rivers recently revealed that he’d do anything to play for his “dream destination,” the Miami Heat.
“Miami is a dream destination for every player like me because Spo (Erik Spoelstra) doesn’t coach based anybody off merit or contract,” Rivers said. “He plays who’s gonna play the hardest and who’s gonna help win the damn game. They try to win games over there.”
Rivers also went on to praise the character of the players on Miami’s roster.
“I would do anything to play for the Miami Heat, seriously that’s No. 1 choice for me would be to play for Spo and play with guys like Jimmy [Butler], f—— dogs man, dogs bro,” he said. “Go out there, play through illness, play through injury, play through soreness, defend, defend, defend.”
He then admitted that he hopes the Heat end up trading for Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard so that some roster spots open up for him.
“I’m hoping the deal gets done and they gotta get off like three or four players because they already have multiple contracts still they haven’t signed,” he said. “They still have three roster spots they haven’t used because they’re waiting for this Dame thing.”
Rivers was selected with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft after a one-season stint playing college basketball at Duke University. He was one of the best guards in the nation during his time with the Blue Devils, as he averaged 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steal per game in 34 appearances with the team during the 2011-12 season (33 starts).
Those numbers were good enough for Rivers to win the ACC Rookie of the Year award as well as earn all-conference honors.
Rivers’ contributions on the offensive side of the ball translated into modest success for the 2011-12 iteration of the Blue Devils. They finished the season with an impressive 27-7 record but were upset by Lehigh University in the NCAA Tournament. Rivers scored 19 points in the loss and converted five of his 14 field-goal attempts.
The 31-year-old has played for seven teams — the Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Washington Wizards and New York Knicks — across his 11 seasons in the NBA. He averaged 4.9 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in 52 games played with the Timberwolves during the 2022-23 regular season (10 starts).
Arguably Rivers’ best season in the NBA came during the 2017-18 season, when he was a member of the Clippers. The guard averaged 15.1 points, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game in 61 games with Los Angeles during the regular season.
The Heat would be wise to consider signing Rivers to a contract before the start of the 2023-24 regular season. After all, Rivers has proven himself to be an effective role player who can make an impact on both ends of the court.