Many former Denver Nuggets players were thrilled when Nikola Jokic and company clinched a spot in the 2023 NBA Finals following their Game 4 win over the Los Angeles Lakers last month. This was not the case for Austin Rivers.
Rivers featured for the Nuggets over the last two seasons. He emerged as a reliable player off the bench for Denver last season, as he averaged 6.0 points per game over 67 regular season contests played. He also played in all five games of its Western Conference first-round series against the Golden State Warriors.
Rivers ultimately did not stay put in Denver. He ended up signing a one-year free agent deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves in July.
Rivers admitted during a recent episode of The Ringer’s “Off Guard with Austin Rivers” podcast that he is quite “bitter” about seeing the Nuggets play in this year’s NBA Finals.
“It bothers me that they are in the Finals, yes,” Rivers said. “It bothers me that I didn't get to play with Jamal. It bothers me that like everyone now is like ‘Oh, they have this complete roster.' No they f*****g don't. They have seven guys that they play.
“They don't even play a full roster. They're not even playing a full team right now. … I'm bitter. I'm salty. I am all of that in between. I don't like … the only reason that I'm happy is because I'm good friends with Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr., and I'm happy that they are in the Finals.”
"It bothers me that they're in the Finals. It bothers me that I didn't get to play with Jamal [Murray]… I'm bitter, I'm salty, I am all of that in between."
Austin Rivers on watching his former team, Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 4, 2023
As Rivers also mentioned, he took part in the Timberwolves’ Western Conference first-round series against the Nuggets earlier in the playoffs. The Nuggets punched their ticket to the next round of the Western Conference playoffs after they secured a 4–1 series win over Minnesota. The veteran shooting guard added that it was “tough” playing in this series.
Rivers will become a free agent after this season, and it is currently not known whether Minnesota has any plans to push to re-sign him. In the unpredictable world of the NBA, one sure can not rule out the possibility of Denver bringing him back during this year’s free agency period.