This counts as progress.
Although Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said combo guard Austin Rivers did only “a little bit” in a light practice Thursday, that was at least a step in the right direction for the newcomer, who missed virtually all of training camp and didn’t appear in a preseason game due to a right groin injury.
“It’s been slow,” Thibodeau said over Zoom following practice on Thursday. “It’s a work in progress. He did a little bit today, which is encouraging. You have to be careful with that type of injury.”
There remains no timetable for the 28-year-old guard, who signed a three-year, $10 million deal with the Knicks in the offseason. He has talked big about making them a free-agent destination and being part of the solution. So far, however, the son of 76ers coach Doc Rivers has yet to be able to contribute in a tangible manner.
“When he’s ready to go, he’ll be ready to go,” Thibodeau said.
Rivers averaged 8.8 points and 2.6 rebounds for the Rockets last year in 68 games. There was some thought he would play for his father in Philadelphia, but Doc Rivers previously told The Post he suggested his former team to Austin having already coached his son once already with the Clippers and knowing what kind of coach Thibodeau is.
Thibodeau was one of Rivers’ assistants when he led the Celtics to the title in 2008.
“We got a ring together, he’s a dear friend, it was a great run,” Thibodeau said. “We maintained a very close relationship, I learned a ton from him. Special guy to me.”
A day later, Thibodeau’s takeaway from the season-opening loss to the Pacers wasn’t much different than how he felt immediately after the game. The Knicks did some good things, but not nearly enough of them to beat a quality team on the road.
“A game reveals exactly where you are,” he said. “Our defense obviously has to be a lot better. Offensively, I liked our first half. We had a good stretch to start the third, but then I think once Julius [Randle] got in foul trouble that hurt us.
“I thought initially we made very good reads, made the right pass, got high quality shots, and … you have to do that for 48 minutes and understand the fourth quarter is different. It’s a lot different from the first three.”
The Pacers outscored the Knicks 60-41 in the second half and 33-25 in the fourth quarter en route to a 121-107 victory.