When Rivers collide, weird stuff goes down, and it's about to happen in Los Angeles.
In the most nepotastic of NBA occurrences, Clippers president of basketball operations Doc Rivers has acquired son Austin Rivers to aid a makeshift bench on which the dad also serves as coach, according to RealGM's Shams Charania and confirmed by the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy.
The move marks the first father-son/player-coach relationship in the league's history, and that's where things get weird. In 2012, when Doc was still coaching the Celtics and Austin was dropping down the draft board as a Duke freshman, the father regularly faced questions about Boston potentially drafting his son. The responses were generally deflective, mostly jokes about his wife complaining about playing time.
In the end, Rivers conceded to WEEI's Dennis & Callahan Morning Show in March of that year, "I would love the opportunity, I guess. It would be uncomfortable. I just think that would be a strange thing to do. Having that said that, I wouldn’t mind. He can score, and I think that would be great for us."
Almost three years later, Doc finds himself in the same conundrum on the West Coast. Doc the coach desperately needed Doc the GM to find scoring punch beyond Jamal Crawford off the bench. While his team's starting lineup is built for championship contention, a second unit that prominently featured Jordan Farmar, Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu has the Clippers battling for a sixth seed out West.
So, Doc acquired his son from the Celtics in a three-team deal that will send both journeyman Chris Douglas-Roberts and a 2017 second-round pick to Boston as well as second-year wing Reggie Bullock to the Suns. In exchange for Bullock — one of many young players never to get much of a chance under the elder Rivers — Phoenix sends Shavlik Randolph back to the Celtics, who land the expiring contracts and second-rounder they coveted upon acquiring the younger Rivers in last week's Jeff Green deal.
Don't worry, it gets weirder.
There are legitimate concerns about whether Austin will actually benefit Doc's bench. Since being selected 10th overall by the Pelicans in 2012, Austin has shot just 39.0 percent from the floor, including a career-worst 28.0 three-point percentage this season. The flashes of offensive brilliance that once made him one of the nation's most coveted prep prospects have been few and far between in the NBA.
So, now Doc must do what he's surely always done — demand the best from his son — but what if it's just not good enough in a professional sense? In an interview with NBA.com, Mike Dunleavy Sr. shared his hesitancy about coaching his son back when he had the chance for the same Clippers in the 2000s.
"I've had a great relationship with my son," he said, "and the only way to screw it up was to coach him."
In recent days, Doc expressed similar concern until members of the organization convinced him otherwise, according to Yahoo's own Adrian Wojnarowski, and now the challenge of balancing expectations as both father and coach begins — all under the watchful eye of players competing for minutes on a championship-caliber roster. It's a fascinating drama previously only played out in movies.
The biggest obstacle Doc potentially faces won't come until this summer, however, when Austin becomes a free agent, and the father holds the fate of his son's NBA future in his hands. When it comes time to negotiate, maybe the elder Rivers can just push play on Cat Stevens' "Father and Son" and walk out of the office as the lyrics play, "For you will be still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not."
But that's still many months away. In the meantime, it's hard not to root for Doc to resurrect Austin's career in an attempt to breathe life back into a franchise that's never even been to a conference finals.
Rivers are colliding. Let's get weird.
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