New Orleans Pelicans guard Austin Rivers didn’t seem to be putting a spin Saturday on something that transpired the day before.
However, the Pelicans on Friday picked up the fourth-year contract option on All-Star power forward Anthony Davis for the 2015-16 season, a no-brainer, but not that of Rivers. That has Rivers’ future with the team uncertain, if not in doubt.
The two were selected in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft, with Davis as the No. 1 overall pick and Rivers at No. 10. However, Davis has flourished, perhaps even more than expected, while Rivers has struggled with both entering their third season.
Rivers said he wasn’t disappointed, however.
“At the end of the day, all that does is just put a chip on my shoulder,” said Rivers, who played at Duke. “I look at it as a challenge for me, just to prove them wrong, just to get better every day, and at the end of the year, be the last one laughing about this. And that’s my focus.”
Rivers, who will be paid $2.4 million this season, was scheduled to make $3.1 million next season had the team picked up his option. Now, he’ll be a free agent at the end of this season.
“If anything, this is actually a good situation,” he said. “This is a good year for me to have a breakout season. … Now, I’m going to just go out there and hoop.”
Rivers, 22, said the Pelicans didn’t give him a reason. However, he averaged 6.2 points on 37.2 percent shooting and 54.6 percent on free throws as a rookie and 7.7 points on 40.5 percent and 63.6 percent on free throws last year. The team likes his work ethic but isn’t pleased with the results.
Rivers said management told him they’ll talk to him about re-signing him after this season.
“I don’t believe that,” he said. “I just focus, I just control what I control. A couple of years ago, I would have been angry, taking grudges and mad. That’s over with. They gotta do what they gotta do. It’s a business. I’m going to do what I gotta do.”
Rivers said he wasn’t surprised because his name was mentioned in trade talks this past summer and the team has added players, Omer Asik most prominent among them, it would like to keep.
The Pelicans held their open practice from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, and 534 fans attended at Smoothie King Center.
The team practiced, but the highlight of the morning was the Blue vs. White team scrimmage. The Blue team, stacked with starting players, won 46-36. Anthony Davis led the Blue with 14 points and point guard Jrue Holiday scored 13.
Center/forward Jeff Withey led the White with 10 points, and Rivers and Jimmer Fredette each had eight.
The Blue led 38-34, but Davis scored six of his team’s final eight points on two free throws, a backward dunk and two more free throws.
Williams said it was good work for his team.
“Today was a good day for our fans, who came out and spent some time with us,” Williams said. “The scrimmage went well, nobody got hurt, the guys had a good sweat.
“Even though it wasn’t at the level we play at, it was better than the usual scrimmages that you see.”