The trade deadline is quickly approaching, and we’ve already seen the Bucks make two moves. They traded away DJ Augustin, DJ Wilson, and a 2023 first-round pick for PJ Tucker, Rodions Kurucs, and the Bucks 2022 first-round pick. The Bucks also traded Torrey Craig to the Phoenix Suns for cash considerations. It seems like the Bucks aren’t done making moves. With a gaping hole at backup PG, in comes Austin Rivers.
Rivers has been inactive for the Knicks the last six games due to health and safety protocols. Even before this six-game stretch, the last time Rivers was part of the Knick’s lineup was February 13th, in a blowout win against the Rockets. He only played two minutes. He hasn’t played meaningful basketball since February 7th.
How can the Bucks obtain Rivers?
With Rivers still under contract for the Knicks, the Bucks would have to make a trade to bring him to the team. The Bucks don’t have much other than 2nd round picks to offer the Knicks to trade for Austin Rivers. As a player who hasn’t played in 15 straight games for the Knicks, a 2nd or two could possibly get the trade done.
Rivers is on a 3 yr, $9.97 million deal. With the cash considerations gained in the Torrey Craig trade, the Bucks would have just enough to take on Rivers’ deal without giving up any players. The Bucks have a $4.8 million trade exception from the PJ Tucker trade, which would come in handy with a potential Austin Rivers trade. It would fully absorb Rivers’ $3.5 million salary this year.
The most logical way that Bucks could get Rivers is if the Knicks buy him out and make him a free agent. This would allow the Bucks to sign Rivers to a vet minimum deal. It could also be possible for the Bucks to sign Rivers to a two-year deal with a team option on the 2nd year, which can be picked up depending on well he finishes the season.
What does Rivers add to the Bucks?
With the trade of DJ Augustin, Jrue Holiday is the only PG on the roster. Rivers would come in as a combo guard but would primarily play at the point guard position. As a combo guard, Rivers gives the Bucks different options and rotations to use. Holiday could be moved back to the SG position, where he thrived, in certain rotations.
Rivers has averaged 7.3 points, 2 assists, 2.2 rebounds, and .6 steals on .430/.364/.714 splits in 21 minutes a game. He’s a guard who can create his own shot, which is definitely very helpful for the Bucks. He adds some more 3point shooting to the team, which is always a plus. He also adds some much-needed defense to the bench guard spots. Currently, Pat Connaughton is the only guard on the bench who can defend. Rivers isn’t going to add elite All-NBA caliber defense, but he will add some much-needed defensive help at the guard positions.
Should the Bucks go after Austin Rivers?
Yes, but only after a buyout. The Bucks have minimal draft picks as is, and if they want to make any future splash trades, they need all the picks they can get. With an Austin Rivers buyout, more likely than not, why give up a 2nd round pick or two when the Bucks can get Rivers on a cheaper deal and give up nothing.
Rivers won’t be getting many minutes off the bench. He would be near the end of the rotation, as he will not beat out Portis, Forbes, Connaughton, or newly acquired Tucker in the lineup. As a 10th man, getting probably 10 minutes a night, he would do well on the Bucks. If anything, it would help keep Jrue Holiday healthier, as Jrue wouldn’t have to be the constant PG.
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