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Rockets sign Austin Rivers

After Chris Paul suffered another injury, Houston is shoring up their depth.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets are intent on catching up to the Golden State Warriors, following their narrow seven-game defeat during the 2018 Western Conference Finals. And, after a disappointing start to the season, the Rockets are starting to turn things around. They’ve won six of their last seven games, and have accumulated a net rating of +7.8 during that span.

But just as they started winning, they suffered a semi-predictable blow: Another hamstring injury to Chris Paul. So to shore up depth at the now-limited point guard position, the team has signed free agent Austin Rivers.

Rivers began the year with the Washington Wizards, after signing with them in the offseason. He was traded last week to the Phoenix Suns, in the deal that sent Trevor Ariza to Washington. But the Suns opted to neither use Rivers nor try and trade him, and instead reached a buyout that has them eating nearly all of Rivers’ salary.

After being linked to a few teams, Rivers has signed with the Rockets, who guaranteed his salary through the season.

Rivers has had a rocky year, averaging just 7.2 points and 2.0 assists per game, while shooting 31.1% from three-point range. But that was with the dysfunctional Wizards, in Scott Brooks’ offense. Paired with the much more more modern and successful Mike D’Antoni offense, Houston can hope that Rivers will return to his 2017-18 form, when he averaged 15.1 points and 4.0 assists per game, while shooting 37.8% from deep for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Rivers spent parts of four seasons with the Clippers, including three alongside Paul, whose minutes he’ll now take. Rivers and Paul butted heads a few times as teammates, but according to reports, neither player was worried about the reunion.

This is unlikely to be a signing that moves the needle for the Rockets, but it can potentially keep them afloat while Paul rehabs his hamstring. And if Houston can bring out the best version of Rivers, they’ll get some valuable depth once the team is healthy.