Austin Rivers has repeated the same ritual at the end of each regular season — cleaning out his locker.
The point guard has never made the playoffs in his brief NBA career, leaving him with several summer alternatives. He's gone home to see family in Los Angeles and Orlando, Fla. Last year, he went to Houston to train with former NBA player and coach John Lucas and watch the playoffs.
They can seem to last forever for someone on the outside enviously looking in.
"It seems like it's very long," Rivers said, "so it's tough."
Becoming a Clipper via a midseason trade has eased Rivers' burden. He's going to the playoffs next week and, yes, you could say he's happy to be here.
"You want to play because that's when everybody makes a name, that's when teams make a name and that's when everything happens," Rivers said. "It's when money time happens."
Rivers has been what the Clippers expected after acquiring the third-year player in January. He's provided superior length at his position, solid defense and an aggressive approach leading the offense.
His value transcends his modest statistics, which are mostly on par with his career averages. Rivers is averaging 7.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 19.5 minutes per game. He has experienced a significant uptick in shooting accuracy, making 42.3% of his shots as opposed to his career average of 39.6%.
His acceptance in the locker room as the son of Coach Doc Rivers was unofficially sealed last month when Clippers star Blake Griffin imitated Austin Rivers' cocky demeanor running the offense and chucked a shot over the backboard in a video that went viral. Griffin hugged Rivers at the end of the video, providing assurance the impression was all in good fun.
Doc Rivers, a veteran of 10 playoff seasons as a player and 11 as a coach, said his only advice to his son would be to fully prepare for each opponent.
"I tell all our guys that," the elder Rivers said. "That's the only way, because the game is going to be real fast for all the young guys. It just is. But the more prepared you are, the more comfortable you feel going in."
Austin Rivers said he didn't anticipate feeling any additional pressure to perform on basketball's biggest stage.
"The playoffs is the playoffs; you go play and the best team wins," he said. "If you lose, you try next year. I'm just super excited."
Rivers will become a restricted free agent this summer after the contract that pays him $2.4 million this season expires. He still intends to spend time in Orlando in the coming months because he is building a house there.
Will Rivers be getting a place in Los Angeles, which would mean he's staying with the Clippers?
"We'll see," he said.