The Washington Wizards' salary-cap situation is murky, which means they probably won't make any big splashes in free agency. That said, there are some needs on this team that can be filled, so Ernie Grunfeld must look for bargains that can fit into the few exceptions the Wizards have to use. We'll explore all free agents that could take the mid-level exception or less in this ongoing series. Next up: D.J. Augustin.
Team: Indiana Pacers.
Type: Unrestricted free agent.
This past year: Struggled mightily to fit in at the start on a Pacers team that demanded a very different role for him than the one he filled in Charlotte. The talent-thin Bobcats needed Augustin to handle the ball and play pick and roll; the post-oriented Pacers needed him to play low-risk ball, dump the ball into the post or to guys coming off pindowns and spot up. Consider:
- In 2011-12, Augustin finished 31 percent of his plays as the pick and roll ball handler and 19.4 percent via spot-up, per MySynergySports.com
- In 2012-13, those percentages were 22.8 percent as the pick and roll ball-handler and a whopping 32.6 percent as a spot-up player.
It took a while for Augustin to make that adjustment. In late-December, he was among the league's worst rotation players, and Frank Vogel benched him for the immortal Ben Hansbrough. But the demotion lasted only a few games, and Augustin started to turn things around. From January to March, he hit 41 percent of his threes and had an assist-to-turnover ration of over 2.5 to 1. He tailed off in April, but bounced back with a very solid performance in the Pacers' first-round playoff series win over the Hawks.
Why he's fit in well: Augustin is a decent enough secondary playmaker and an excellent outside shooter that is slowly learning how to play off others. That reconditioning took some time, but it appears to have paid off.
Why he might not: He's very small, which makes it tough to ever use him in three-guard alignments with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Defensively, he's not so great, though he got by in Indiana's excellent schemes.
Likely price tag: Augustin made $3.5 million last year and will probably take a pay cut, but given his age, I don't know if the Wizards could nab him with the bi-annual exception.
Verdict: I've never liked Augustin's game, but he is still relatively young and showed some ability to play off others in Indiana. There's a bit more of a mystery with him than there is for someone like Beno Udrih or C.J. Watson, but he also has more room to grow than those guys.