A 28-year-old NBA guard on his 6th team has a great perspective on playing his role and living ‘happier’

Austin rivers
Austin Rivers. David Zalubowski/AP Images
  • Austin Rivers joined the Nuggets midseason, his fourth team in three seasons and sixth team overall.
  • Rivers explained that his new role is to play as hard as possible and be supportive off of the court.
  • Rivers said he reflected on his career to adjust to his role and is now living his life “happier.”
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After a brief period without a team, veteran NBA guard Austin Rivers has a fresh perspective on playing a role with the Denver Nuggets.

Rivers signed a three-year, $10 million contract with the New York Knicks over the offseason but fell out of the rotation after just a few weeks. After a period of not playing, the Knicks traded Rivers to the Oklahoma City Thunder in March.

The Thunder waived Rivers, and he was then a free agent for several weeks before joining the Nuggets on a 10-day contract. He recently signed with them for the rest of the season.

On Wednesday, after scoring 25 points to help the Nuggets beat the Knicks, 113-97 – a dose of revenge against his former team – Rivers expounded on his approach and mindset with his new team.

“I just told Coach [Mike Malone], no matter where they play me, when they play me, start, don’t start, here, there, every minute in there, I’m just gonna be playing hard as hell,” Rivers told reporters. “When I’m not in there – listen, we could go back and forth about things in the past, but like, one thing I’ve learned is positive energy defeats everything. It’s so much easier to live life happier. It’s so much easier to live life positive instead of worrying about yourself and being involved in yourself.”

Rivers has bounced around the NBA since being drafted 10th overall in 2012. The Nuggets are his sixth team overall and his fourth in the last three years. He’s never spent more than three-and-a-half years with any of his teams.

Rivers has played well in many of those stints but simply hasn’t found a long-term home.

Rivers said that, like many players, he believes he’s capable of playing a bigger role on the floor. However, his time in the league and numerous stops have taught him that it isn’t always required.

“As a player, I’ll be honest, in the past, like all of us do, you wanna do well. You wanna be this, you wanna be that guy. I was that guy in high school. I wanted to be an All-Star – I still feel like I’m good enough to be that.

“But that’s not my role here. My role is to be aggressive, and obviously, I’ll have big nights like tonight – I’ll have many more, I plan on having many more. But we’ve got an MVP [in Nikola Jokic] here, you know what I mean? So you support that guy. And we’ve got Michael [Porter Jr.] who’s upcoming, so you support that guy.

“So, I got in there, I do my thing, I play hard, but whether I play, or whatever platform I’m on, if I’m in the game, not in the game, I’m nothing but positive energy. That’s all I try to bring to this team every game.”

Rivers said that nearly having basketball taken away from him taught him to appreciate any role and reflect on what he could change.

“When you’re not playing for two months, and something’s taken from you – it changed me,” Rivers said. “I had to look in the mirror and say, ‘Okay, I still have to change. It’s not all New York’s fault … I have to do better.’ So, I’m working on that every day.”

Watch Rivers’ comments below:

-Mike Singer (@msinger) May 6, 2021