Over the past several weeks in the NBA, there have been rumors brewing about the Knicks reportedly looking into moving on from Carmelo Anthony. Phil and ‘Melo have had their meetings, hashed out their differences and Anthony is handling it in a very respectful manner. Anthony’s contract currently has a no trade clause on it, a clause that he plans to use outside in most scenarios except for two: A trade to the Clippers to play with his friend Chris Paul or to the Cavs to play with his other friend LeBron James. While there have been rumors here and there, one of the ideas that has been discussed is an Anthony to the Clippers trade that does not involve the Clippers giving up any of their Big 3 — Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan — in exchange. Instead, the only feasible trade that would fulfill monetary obligations on both sides would have to center around Clipper backup point guard Austin Rivers. In watching the Clippers on occasion and having a family that has supported the Clippers for over a decade, I can say without a doubt that any sort of Anthony-for-Rivers package deal would be one of the worst moves in Knicks history. The simple reason for this should be apparent but yet seemingly isn’t to Phil Jackson: Rivers is not a very good NBA player.
The first point that shows Rivers’ value is the difference in the net rating of the Clippers when he is on versus off the court. While on the court, the Clippers are outscored by 1.5 points per 100 possessions. When he is off, the Clippers outscored opponents by 11.3. For comparison, Knicks backup point guard Brandon Jennings, who has been labeled by many, including myself, as a bad player this season only has a -2.0 net rating dropoff when he is on the court. There are a few instances of games that demonstrate the horrible determent that Rivers can bring. He went -20 in a 17-point win at home against Denver and a -11 in 25 minutes in a game the Clippers won by 32. It’s difficult to imagine someone pulling that off whilst trying to lose, but Rivers has done it on multiple occasions. Rivers is a poor individual rebounder as well, with a rebounding percentage of only 4.1. That’s even worse than Jennings’ rebounding percentage of six percent. He is also a poor distributor, averaging only 2.7 assists in almost 27 minutes as the backup point guard. Both Jennings and Derrick Rose, the starting point guard for the Knicks, average more assists per game and have a higher overall assist percentage, and Jennings plays less minutes than Rivers.
You could make the argument that Rivers is held back by the fact that he is almost exclusively played off the bench, but his +/- rate of -1.3 is worse than players on some of the worst teams, such as Caris Lavert of the Nets (-1.2). His player efficiency rating, one of the main statistics for the rate of overall contribution to a team, is lower than 76ers point guard T.J McConnell and his value over replacement player stat is lower than his fellow backup Raymond Felton, who plays with the same lineups that Rivers does. That’s not a player you want to trade for as a rebuilding team, and there is no number of draft picks from a contender such as the Clippers to make the trade appealing to a blind New York baby, much less Phil Jackson.