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Can Doc, Austin Rivers Help One Another Get What They Want?

Glenn Minnis

Glenn Minnis is an XN Sports NBA contributor. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, BET and AOL. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.

Austin Rivers is at a crossroads. And to say the second half of this NBA season shapes up as a make-or-break time for him would be on par to saying the third-year guard hasn’t quite lived up to the standards typically associated with his lottery level draft status.

Only time will truly tell if Doc Rivers’ bold but risky move this week to bring his son to L.A. with him and presumably instantly install him as an integral part of the Clippers’ rotation proves to be a stroke of genius to his team’s fortunes or a kiss of death to his son’s hoop dreams. But both men surely have to know there can be no middle ground. Truth is, this is as much risky business for the Clippers’ suddenly faltering championship aspirations as it is Austin Rivers’ waning shot at NBA superstardom.

Touted as worthy title front-runners coming into the year, the Clips’ struggles have been every bit as apparent as Rivers’ 39 percent field goal shooting foretell his have been. The only thing that has consistently distinguished Doc Rivers’ team is how fragile their psyche can often appear to be.

Even the generally upbeat Rivers has taken notice of and umbrage with his team’s apparent split-personality, earlier this year ethering them as “soft as you can get” following an early November blowout loss to the cross-state rival Golden State Warriors. “Right now, this is not the same group from last year. And it’s the same group. So, we have to figure that out.”

Just how strong-arming a place within all that dysfunction for his wayward son can be expected to result in increased unity within the locker room of one of the league’s most schizophrenic squads remains mind boggling.

But if anyone can pull it off, it’s the smooth-talking, pseudo psychoanalyzing Rivers, though resurrecting his son’s career and helping him to rediscover himself certainly proves among the greatest challenges he’s ever faced.

The still just 22-year-old Rivers has averaged just seven points, three assists, and two rebounds this season, begging the question of just how much of a difference such pedestrian numbers can make for a second unit currently ranked last among reserve rotations in rebounding and 24th in field goal percentage.

“When Jamal (Crawford) doesn’t score that affects our whole team,” Rivers said in rationalizing having his son join the former Sixth Man of the Year Award winner as two of the Clips’ top reserve options. “He’s part of points that you assume you’re going to get every night.”

Everything happens for a reason,” Austin Rivers reasoned after he was formally dealt from the Pelicans earlier this month. Indeed, it does, and the reason behind the proposed transaction that would send him to L.A. or, more to the point, the immediate result of it could come to symbolize the immediate fortunes of both of his career and his father’s team.