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Report: Pelicans decline Austin Rivers’ 2015-16 team option

New Orleans Pelicans v Washington Wizards

New Orleans Pelicans v Washington Wizards

NBAE/Getty Images

Pelicans guard Austin Rivers declared, “This is my year.”

He better hope so, because the stakes have just gotten higher.

It’s now a contract year.

John Reid of The Times Picayune on the Pelicans:

they have decided not to extend point guard Austin Rivers’ option through the 2015-16 season, a league source confirmed.

Rivers will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and the former No. 10 pick will have his work cut for him if he’s going to earn more than his option-year salary of $3,110,796.

The Pelicans could help him, too.

Rivers has been miscast as an offensive point guard in New Orleans, but he just doesn’t see the floor well enough to protect the ball and distribute effectively. He has the tools to defend that position, but he has yet to put them all together. Offensively, he works best as an undersized score-first guard, but he’s a little small for a shooting guard.

In order to stick in the NBA, Rivers probably has to re-cast himself as a specialist – a crafty, undersized shooting guard who provides offensive punch and/or a havoc-inducing defensive point guard. Going those routes would take work, and even if Rivers succeeds, those types of players generally make less than $3,110,796.

To Rivers’ credit, he improved immensely from a disastrous rookie year, and the Pelicans don’t always play to his strengths. But he has struggled enough that New Orleans made the right call here.