Guard Austin Rivers, the 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft, was traded by the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday to the Boston Celtics as part of a three-team trade involving the Memphis Grizzlies, according to an ESPN.com report.
The Pelicans received small forward Quincy Pondexter and a second-round pick from the Grizzlies. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein also reported that the Pelicans dealt rookie guard Russ Smith, who was assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants for the third time this season, to Memphis for the second-round pick.
Rivers, according to a report from the Boston Herald, may never land with the Celtics. The newspaper quoted a source as saying “the deal is a continuously changing thing.” USA Today reported that Rivers could end up playing with his father, Doc, the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The deal would need to be approved by the league Monday.
In the other parts of the deal, the Grizzlies would get veteran forward Jeff Green and Smith; the Celtics would get veteran Tayshaun Prince and his expiring $7.7 million contract, Rivers and the Grizzlies’ first-round pick as Boston continues to stockpile picks to build for its future. Rivers would move to the Clippers in a separate deal, ESPN reported.
Rivers had seen his playing time diminish with the return of starting shooting guard Eric Gordon. Even before then, Jimmer Fredette, signed in the offseason, had assumed more of the role as the backup point guard, and that also took away from Rivers’ playing time.
Coach Monty Williams was asked before Friday’s win against Memphis whether the Pelicans had too many guards, which was a question coming into this season.
“No, I just think …” he said before pausing. “I wouldn’t answer that question right now anyway.”
Rivers was selected after his freshman year at Duke but struggled to land a viable role with the team. The Pelicans declined to pick up the option on his contract for next season, which will make him a free agent at the end of this season.
“If I had to choose between being a free agent after this season or after next season, I’d choose after this season,” he said. “I’m going to get a lot of playing time, and I’m confident I’ll do well this season.”
Rivers was drafted as the team’s point guard of the future to complement power forward Anthony Davis, the first overall pick in 2012. But he has played in a reserve role at point guard and shooting guard in his three seasons with New Orleans, during which he shot 39.0 percent.
Rivers had played in 35 of the team’s 36 games this season and averaged 6.8 points and 2.5 assists. He shot just 38.7 percent, including 28.0 on 3-pointers. The situation came to a head when starting shooting guard Eric Gordon returned from a shoulder injury Monday. Rivers did not play in the team’s game at Charlotte on Wednesday, although he did make an appearance Friday vs. Memphis.
Pondexter is no stranger to New Orleans, having played 66 games with the team during the 2010-11 season, when it was known as the Hornets. He was sent to the Grizzlies before the 2011-12 season in exchange for point guard Greivis Vasquez.
Pondexter’s career received a boost in New Orleans: His shooting improved while he worked with assistant coach Fred Vinson. Pondexter shot 36.0 percent on 3-pointers that season. In a game in New Orleans during the 2012-13 season, he made six 3s, helping the Grizzlies win the game. That season, he made a career-high 39.5 percent of his 3-point attempts. This season, he has shot just 23.3 percent from beyond the arc.