Rivers brothers follow different paths to NBA opportunity


It's a busy weekend for the Rivers family.

Austin Rivers, taken by New Orleans with the No. 10 pick in last month's NBA Draft, will make his debut today for the Hornets in the NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center. His older brother, Jeremiah, played Saturday for the New York Knicks at Cox Pavilion.

On Monday, their dad, Celtics coach Doc Rivers, will be in town watching Boston make its first appearance in the summer league.

While the brothers are here playing, their situations couldn't be more different. As a lottery pick, Austin, a 6-foot-5-inch guard who played one year at Duke, has a guaranteed spot and will make several million dollars.

Jeremiah, a 6-5 free-agent guard who went to Georgetown and finished his college career at Indiana before playing professionally in Serbia last year, isn't guaranteed anything. He has to prove he's worth getting an extended look in training camp with the Knicks or another NBA team.

"My focus is getting invited back to camp," said Jeremiah Rivers, 24, who is five years older than Austin. "I just need to do the things they're looking for - make good decisions with the ball, play good defense and not turn it over."

Rivers said he could have hooked up with another NBA team, including the Celtics. But he thought the Knicks gave him the best chance of joining his younger brother in the NBA.

"The Knicks are looking for someone who can do a lot of things well, and that's what I'm trying to show them this week," said Rivers, who had six points and five rebounds in 24 minutes in New York's 92-77 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. "I thought I played OK, but I can play better."

The Knicks and Hornets won't meet in the summer league, so there won't be a sibling rivalry on the floor. But Jeremiah Rivers has no doubt his younger brother, who will play at 7:30 p.m. against the Portland Trail Blazers, will have a successful run in the NBA.

"He's going to kill it," he said. "Trust me, he's going to have no problem."

■ NO BELLFIELD - Former UNLV guard Oscar Bellfield was supposed to make his pro debut Saturday for Memphis. But when the Grizzlies took the court at Cox Pavilion, there was no sign of Bellfield.

According to a Grizzlies team official, Bellfield was released Saturday morning.

"We had too many players," the official said. "We had 21 players at one point, and that just wasn't manageable. It wasn't anything (Bellfield) did wrong. We just couldn't keep that many."

■ SOLD OUT - Friday's attendance was 3,982. On Saturday, the "sold-out" sign was in place at 4 p.m. before the third game of the day, which featured the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings.

"People need to plan ahead," said Gail Hunter, the NBA's senior vice president of events. "But the good news is we have both the Thomas & Mack and the Cox starting (today), so that will allow us to accommodate everyone who wants to come watch."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

 

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