Clippers PG Austin Rivers could end up being the centerpiece of a trade involving Carmelo Anthony going to Los Angeles, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
Rivers, who met with Phil Jackson in July during free agency, is averaging 12.1 points and 2.8 assists while shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from long range in 27.9 minutes per game this season. With Chris Paul out with a thumb injury until March, Rivers has emerged as the Clippers' starting point guard.
The Knicks want more assets than Rivers, whose father Doc Rivers, the Clippers' coach and president of basketball operations, has already said on record that he would trade his son for Anthony.
In order to make a deal work under the new CBA, Jamal Crawford and his three-year contract will likely have to be added to the deal as well.
The Knicks will get a closer look at Austin Rivers on Wednesday. The guard has steadily emerged from being an uncertain rotation player to a reliable starter in the absence of Chris Paul. He's having a breakout year. In addition to shooting 44% from the field and 39% from deep this season, Rivers has recently become a more potent offensive player. He's always been a sharpshooter, but now he's working towards creating more opportunities for those around him as well. Unfortunately, his defensive prowess remains suspect for a combo guard.
Rivers is by no means a star caliber player, but he's likely to be the best piece the Knicks would figure to receive back in any Clippers deal involving Carmelo Anthony. The good news is he's still just 24 years old. He can be developed, nurtured, and guided to play in whatever style a future Knicks squad desires.
He could be a reliable starter on a contract that now appears par for the course in today's NBA economy. Given Phil Jackson' recent Twitter comments, Anthony's time in New York could very well be running out. Whereas the Knicks could benefit from waiting until the summer to explore trade options, Los Angeles would appear a more likely destination if Anthony departs midseason.
Unfortunately, while he's still growing, Rivers isn't the type of player that jumps off the page. If the Knicks were to take back him (and a player like Jamal Crawford to help match salaries), they should also be pushing for future picks as well. Rivers isn't the kind of return New York wants for Anthony, regardless if it's truly time to part ways.