The Denver Nuggets are making moves in light of the enormous loss they suffered last week.
Denver has moved to sign veteran guard Austin Rivers to a 10-day contract on Tuesday, the team announced on Tuesday.
The deal does not come as a surprise considering the current situation with Denver’s backcourt. Facundo Campazzo and Monte Morris are both excellent backup guards, but thrusting one or both of them into a starring role is not ideal. The addition of Rivers gives the team more veteran options, more size, and more depth at the position.
Not to mention the fact that Rivers can score the ball at a rate much closer to what Murray was bringing to the table than can Morris or Campazzo. Rivers has never had a consistent starting role with a team, but he’s always proven himself to be a shooter that can take over a game from time to time.
He didn’t get a ton of run with the Knicks during his time with them this season, but he did have two big games against the Utah Jazz in which he scored 23 and 25 points. In early January, Rivers came in with under four minutes left against Utah and proceeded to score 11 points in under three minutes to seal the win for the Knicks.
Doubtless, this is the Rivers the Nuggets will surely be hoping to get when they signed the 28-year-old to a 10-day on Tuesday. While Rivers should add some spacing and scoring to the group whenever he’s out there, it seems near-on impossible that he could bring the same efficiency and playmaking to the table as Murray.
The loss of Murray for the season to that ACL tear was devastating, and the addition of Rivers won’t fill that void. While a wager on Denver’s odds to win the NBA Championship seemed prescient a week ago, their +1,100 NBA odds to go all the way without Murray are surely a waste of money now.
Rivers played 21 games with the Knicks this season, averaging 7.3 points per game with a 43/36/71 shooting line to go with it. He was moved at the trade deadline in a three-team trade that landed him with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Considering Rivers’ advanced age of 28—considered advanced at least by OKC general manager Sam Presti’s standards—there was no chance he’d stick with the Thunder, and he was predictably waived by the team shortly after being acquired. Since then, it’s been radio silence on Rivers.
That is, until the Murray injury. But even after that, the Nuggets were decently set with Campazzo, Morris, PJ Dozier, and Shaquille Harrison. Morris had stepped into the starting role that Murray had vacated, but now Morris himself is being forced to miss what head coach Mike Malone ruminated on as “a little while,” according to ESPN.
Nuggets starting center and MVP candidate Nikola Jokic is where most of Denver’s offense moves through, so the point guard position isn’t quite as important for the Nuggets as it might be for other teams. Rivers, however, brings a streaky scoring threat to the table that teams will be forced to account for.
Rivers was drafted back in 2010 as a top 10 pick but has not lived up to that billing so far, serving more as an erratic source of scoring instead of an every night starter over his decade-plus of service in the NBA. When he takes the court for the Nuggets, it will be the sixth NBA outfit for which he has suited up.