D.J. Augustin

Southeast Notes: Thomas, Heat, Augustin

Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas has a prime opportunity to prove himself with the franchise this season, joining a roster lacking depth at point guard due to the lengthy recovery time for John Wall.

Thomas, 30, appeared in just 12 games with the Nuggets last season and 32 games with the Cavs and Lakers back in 2017/18. During his last healthy season, the 2016/17 campaign with Boston, he held per-game averages of 28.9 points and 5.9 assists in 76 contests.

“The NBA is about ‘what have you done for me lately?’ I understood that at a younger age and I get it,” Thomas said, as relayed by Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“These last two years have been tough. But I always say that it can’t storm forever. So, at some point things gotta open up. Hopefully with this big opportunity with the Wizards, I can show people that I can still play at a high level.”

Thomas has found new motivation coming off a quiet season with Denver, working out with on-court trainer Andre Brown during the offseason with hopes of regaining his old footing in the league.

“This opportunity is going to be big for him, to shock the world,” Brown said of Thomas. “I just want everyone to pay attention and open [their] eyes and know that ‘it’s time.'”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Heat will likely try and trade out of the luxury tax if possible, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Miami has little to no additional flexibility outside of its 14 players under contract, with players set to report to training camp in less than one month.
  • In a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, Winderman ponders whether the Heat are sacrificing developmental opportunities. Miami signed veteran forward Udonis Haslem to its 14th roster spot this offseason, as Winderman notes, valuing the 39-year-old’s experience and locker room leadership for their current group of players.
  • Magic guard D.J. Augustin hopes the team’s offseason will lay a foundation for future success, Dan Savage of NBA.com writes. “They’re in here every day whether it’s on the court working out or in the weight room lifting weights, the fact that they’re here now and have been here all summer doing those things, it’s going to go a long way in their growth and their development as basketball players,” Augustin said of Orlando’s young core, which includes the likes of Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba and Markelle Fultz. “Every guy doesn’t work out the same, some guys hang out in the summer time and work out every now and then, but those guys are dedicated and they’re working hard every single day.”

Southeast Notes: Wizards, McGruder, Bamba, Briscoe

Even if the Wizards are granted an $8.6MM disabled player exception, they’re more likely to sign players to 10-day contracts than use that exception, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Washington applied for the exception due to John Wall‘s season-ending heel surgery.

The Wizards’ cap issues make it unlikely they’d find a free agent enticing enough to sign for the remainder of the season by using a portion of the exception. The Wizards inked point guard Ramon Sessions to a pair of 10-day contracts last season before signing him for the rest of the season, Hughes notes.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Shooting guard Rodney McGruder could lose his rotation spot if Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decides to expand Tyler Johnson‘s minutes, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest mailbag. In that instance, Dion Waiters would start ahead of McGruder and Johnson would receive second unit minutes. Waiters returned from ankle surgery three games ago. McGruder has played fewer than 20 minutes in three of the last four games.
  • An MRI on rookie center Mohamed Bamba‘s sore foot showed no structural damage, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Magic coach Steve Clifford said Bamba is unlikely to play this weekend, Robbins adds. The sixth overall pick sat out against Utah on Wednesday.
  • Clifford is inclined to keep rookie Isaiah Briscoe in the Magic’s rotation as the backup point guard, Robbins reports in another tweet. Briscoe has averaged 17.5 MPG in the last two games, contributing 5.5 PPG and 3.5 APG. The undrafted Kentucky product has displaced Jerian Grant, who had been backing up D.J. Augustin. Briscoe’s salary is non-guaranteed after this season, while Grant could be an unrestricted free agent if the club doesn’t extend a $3.76MM qualifying offer.

Southeast Notes: Satoransky, Toliver, Magic, Bacon

Wizards restricted free agent Tomas Satoransky has been thrust into the spotlight with John Wall opting for season-ending heel surgery, Chase Hughes on NBC Sports Washington notes. Satoransky takes over the starting point guard spot with Wall sidelined, with Chasson Randle, Ron Baker and Troy Brown Jr. in reserve. Coach Scott Brooks believes Satoransky can handle the pressure. “He’s ready for this,” Brooks said. “Tomas is going to get a great opportunity. He’s going to be more comfortable as the games go by.” Washington will need to make Satoransky a qualifying offer of $3.9MM to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards assistant coach Kristi Toliver is being paid like an intern due to NBA rules, Howard Megdal of the New York Times reports. Since Toliver plays with the Mystics, who are also owned by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, the league determined that Toliver’s compensation must come out of the $50K allocated to each team to pay WNBA players for off-season work. Much of that had already been promised to Mystics and WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, so Toliver is only making $10K.
  • The Magic will aggressively pursue a point guard in free agency, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets. Orlando has been using journeyman D.J. Augustin as its starter this season with Jerian Grant as the primary backup.
  • The Hornets will likely bring back Dwayne Bacon with Jeremy Lamb injured, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Lamb suffered a right hamstring strain on Monday. Bacon was assigned the team’s G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, on Sunday. Bacon, a second-year swingman, has appeared in 17 games with the Hornets, averaging 5.5 PPG in 12.4 MPG.

Magic Likely Done In Free Agency

After re-signing Aaron Gordon to his four-year, $76MM deal, using part of their mid-level exception to reach agreements with rookies Melvin Frazier and Isaiah Briscoe, and adding a reliable backup point guard in Jerian Grant to spell incumbent starting point guard D.J. Augustin, the Magic are likely finished adding players to their roster through free agency this summer, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

“We’re in a pretty good place with our financial flexibility, all things considered, but the roster is done as we sit here today,” Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman says. “We don’t feel like there are any holes that we need to shore up. We can always get better, and we’ll always be on the lookout for ways to get better. At this point, that would come probably more in the form of a trade if we were to do anything for the remainder of the summer.”

The Magic are currently projected to have a team salary around $110.9MM, assuming the team retains the services of backup guard Rodney Purvis, whose $1.4MM salary is non-guaranteed. Per Robbins, Orlando will also look to fill its open slots for two-way contracts and could bring in additional players on training camp deals.

The statement from Weltman all but puts to rest the speculation surrounding Isaiah Thomas, who was reported to be “negotiating a possible deal” with the Magic last week. Per Robbins, Orlando considered Thomas, but negotiations never took place, as the club believes Augustin is fully capable of leading this year’s squad.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our roster at every position, but we are in capable hands with D.J.,” Weltman said. “D.J. is a very good player and he’s coming off the best year of his career under trying circumstances. D.J. represents what we want to be about: a professional who prepares, who plays for his teammates and who always brings the same personality to the team irrespective of the highs and lows of the season.”

Weltman also added that newly-acquired center Timofey Mozgov is not currently a candidate to be bought out, despite likely being buried on the depth chart behind Nikola Vucevic and heralded rookie Mohamed Bamba. Rather, the team hopes Mozgov will impact the team off the court through his experience and professionalism.

Should the Magic change their mind and decide to re-enter the free-agent fray, they still have nearly $7MM of their mid-level exception remaining after signing both Frazier and Briscoe to deals exceeding two seasons.

Florida Notes: Gay, Whiteside, Magic, Augustin

Rudy Gay might have been a better free agent target for the Heat than Kelly Olynyk, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. In response to a reader’s question, Winderman notes that Gay was rehabbing from his Achilles injury in Florida and expressed interest in coming to Miami before winding up in San Antonio. Gay got a little more than $17MM over two years, with about $8.8MM of that as a player option for next season. Olynyk received $46MM over four years from the Heat.

Gay would have given Miami a proven alternative at small forward when Rodney McGruder was lost to a left tibia stress fracture. The Heat couldn’t have known in July that McGruder would be unavailable, but Winderman says depth at that position would have been desirable if the plan all along was to move Justise Winslow to power forward. Gay is averaging 11.8 points and 5.3 rebounds through 16 games with the Spurs, while Olynyk is putting up 9.2 points and 5.5 boards in 15 games.

There’s more this morning from the Sunshine State:

  • In the same piece, Winderman questions whether the Heat will be willing to make another max offer to Hassan Whiteside if he opts out of his current deal after next season. As small-ball continues to spread throughout the league, some teams are re-evaluating the worth of traditional centers. Whiteside will have an early-termination option on his salary of slightly more than $27MM for 2019/20.
  • After being one of the league’s early-season surprises, the Magic already face a crossroads to their season after Saturday’s 40-point loss to the Jazz, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando came out of the gate at 6-2, but is back at .500 after dropping four straight games. Coach Frank Vogel hinted that changes might be on the way and called last night’s performance “unacceptable,” a sentiment shared by many of the players. “I think we lost what made us good at the beginning of the season: playing together, having fun out there, enjoying the game,” Nikola Vucevic said. “Over-dribbling, over-trying to get stuff instead of just playing simple basketball, like we did earlier in the year, it just affects us little by little. It just takes away from our energy. It’s like it’s taking little bites [out of us]. By the end of the game, there was no energy left.”
  • The Magic got some good news Saturday with the return of veteran guard D.J. Augustin. An important part of Orlando’s surprising early-season success, Augustin missed seven games with a hamstring injury. He was held scoreless in 17 minutes yesterday, but was averaging 8.3 points and 5.1 assists through his first eight games and shooting 39% from 3-point range.

Pistons, Magic Have Discussed Reggie Jackson Deal

The Magic sent Serge Ibaka to Toronto in a trade earlier this week, and GM Rob Hennigan may not be done dealing yet. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), Orlando and Detroit have discussed a swap that would send Reggie Jackson to the Magic in exchange for D.J. Augustin and Jeff Green.

Today’s report comes just two days after ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote that the Pistons had explored the trade market for Jackson and had come away disappointed with what teams were willing to give up for the veteran point guard. However, even though Lowe suggested Jackson’s trade value had “cratered,” the ESPN analyst didn’t rule out a possible deal, noting that Orlando would be an intriguing fit because Hennigan was in Oklahoma City’s front office when the Thunder drafted Jackson.

[RELATED: Trade Deadline Outlook: Southeast Division]

Lowe’s piece also featured quotes from Stan Van Gundy and Andre Drummond on the Pistons’ struggles to adjust to Jackson’s return to the lineup this season after establishing some early-season chemistry with Ish Smith at the point.

As Stein himself notes (via Twitter), there’s no indication yet that these talks will turn into anything serious, but it would be an interesting move for two sub-.500 teams who had hopes of contending this season.

Both Jackson and Augustin are under team control through the 2019/20 season, but Augustin’s salary ($7.25MM annually) is much more affordable than Jackson’s ($17MM+ per year after this season). Green, meanwhile, is on a $15MM expiring deal, so a deal centered around those three players would create some future flexibility for the Pistons and would give the Magic a long-term answer at point guard, perhaps opening up the door for an Elfrid Payton trade.

It’s worth noting that if the Pistons were to trade Jackson, they could take back up to about $20MM in salary (the value of Jackson’s salary, plus $5MM). Green and Augustin make a combined $22.25MM, so at least one more piece would need to be involved in this hypothetical transaction.

While the Pistons and Magic may not ultimately agree to a deal with one another, both teams figure to continue scouring the market before next Thursday’s trade deadline.

Eastern Notes: Vucevic, Mirotic, Canaan, Pistons

Magic coach Frank Vogel shook up the starting lineup tonight with D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo and Aaron Gordon replacing Elfrid Payton, Nikola Vucevic and Jeff Green, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. The change was prompted by a three-game losing streak, but not much improved with an eight-point loss to the Bucks.

Vucevic promised to keep a professional attitude about the move, but he clearly isn’t endorsing it. “I spoke to Frank about it last night, and obviously I wasn’t happy with the decision they made,” the sixth-year center said to Zach Oliver of OPP Magic Blog. “I didn’t think there was a reason for me to go to the bench, but it’s coach’s decision. All I can do is control what I can control, which is when I’m on the court play to the best of my ability and help the team win. Stay professional and whatever is going on, I’ll keep giving my best and give them my full effort.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic hopes to stay in the NBA rather than return to Europe after his contract expires at the end of this season, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The former Real Madrid star is wrapping up a three-year, $16.6MM deal. He calls Chicago “a great city” and says he wants to continue to take on the challenges that the NBA presents. “I think [the NBA] is the best place I can grow as a player,” Mirotic said. “I was very comfortable in Madrid. … That was a perfect place to stay and be in a comfort zone, to sign another five years. But that’s not who I am. I like the challenges. … And I came here to prove that I’m ready.”
  • A season and a half in Philadelphia has helped Bulls guard Isaiah Canaan appreciate the chance to be on a winning team, writes Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. Canaan signed with Chicago over the summer after the Sixers declined to submit a qualifying offer. “I say it was a blessing for the opportunity, just to prove I can help a team out and show what I can bring,” Canaan said. “It was a humbling experience for me just to have to go through something like that and learn not to take anything for granted.”
  • A June meeting at a Tigers game between Pistons owner Tom Gores and the Ilitch family, which owns the Red Wings, led to the Pistons’ move downtown next season, relays Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.

Eastern Notes: Bulls, Beasley, Augustin, Stauskas

The Bulls have solved the chemistry issues that plagued them all last season, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. A power struggle ended when Derrick Rose was traded to the Knicks and Joakim Noah joined him there as a free agent, leaving Jimmy Butler as the clear leader in Chicago. He helped the team replace its lost talent by recruiting free agents Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. “We all enjoy each other’s company, man,” Butler said. “Even when we’re not playing basketball. Even if we’re throwing a football, if we’re playing cards or just sitting there talking. Everybody’s locked in. Everybody’s having fun and everybody wants to get to know each other a little bit better. I think that’s the major difference. We spent a lot of time off the floor together, which I didn’t know could help so much, but it really does.”

There’s more news out of the Eastern Conference:

  • Bucks forward Michael Beasley still considers himself a young player because of the time he spent out of the NBA, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Now 27, Beasley is getting used to a new team after being traded from Houston to Milwaukee in September. “My first step is really what I’ve built my game on, if you’ve watched my career,” he said. “That’s how I get my offense going, because a lot of people can’t stay in front of me. And a lot of people have trouble guarding left-handed players.”
  • Now on his eighth team in six seasons, backup point guard D.J. Augustin is hoping for some stability with the Magic, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. He signed a four-year, $29MM deal over the summer, but understands that isn’t a guarantee he will spend all four seasons in Orlando. “It feels good to know that I’m going to be here for a while, but you never know what can happen in the NBA,” Augustin said. “Even though guys sign long deals, they still get traded. Anything can happen, so I still have that in the back of my mind.”
  • Nik Stauskas blames lost confidence for a poor first season with the Sixers, according to Kevin Cooney of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Stauskas believes in his game again, and it has shown with six straight double-digit scoring nights. The third-year guard is now comfortable with his role as a scorer off the bench. “Now it’s just one of those things where I’m enjoying myself again, I’m having fun out there,” Stauskas said, “and I think that’s when I’m most effective, when I’m having fun and, like coach [Brett] Brown says, being a little bit cocky and playing with swagger. That’s when I feel like I’m at my best.”

Southeast Notes: Vogel, Augustin, Wade, Jefferson

The revamped Magic have sputtered out of the gate, but new coach Frank Vogel isn’t ready to make lineup changes, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Vogel has used the same starting five in each of Orlando’s games this season, including a blowout loss to the Bulls Monday that had him considering a shakeup. But Vogel decided to be patient with the group he has in place. “I’m not a knee-jerk coach,” Vogel said before tonight’s game. “If it’s needed, we’ll see it. I wouldn’t expect it anytime soon.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic are facing the Timberwolves and new coach/executive Tom Thibodeau tonight, which brings back fond memories for reserve point guard D.J. Augustin, Robbins notes in the same piece. Thibodeau was Augustin’s coach with the Bulls in 2013/14, and was an important influence on his career. “He gave me an opportunity to play and play a lot of big minutes,” Augustin said. “He gave me confidence. And that’s exactly what he’s probably doing with those young guys over there, and you could tell by the way they’re playing.”
  • Bulls guard Dwyane Wade reiterated to reporters tonight that he hasn’t had any contact with team president Pat Riley since leaving the Heat in free agency, relays Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Wade, who is preparing for his first game back in Miami on Thursday, said he’s not sure if he will try to contact Riley before the contest. “I know who Pat is,” Wade said. “It’s no secret to me. I was there 13 years, I’ve seen a lot of players come and go. I know how he is. If you’re not with him, you’re against him. That’s just the way he is. You got to understand that, man. And I’m cool with it. I’m fine, 100 percent. I was there 13 years so I’ve seen a lot of video tributes, seen a lot of players come in and go out. And I’ve seen the way he’s responded to them. And I know if you’re not with him, you’re against him.”
  • Center Al Jefferson may be gone from the Hornets, but coach Steve Clifford told Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer that his 2013 signing is still helping the franchise. Clifford said Jefferson, who joined the Pacers over the summer, gave Charlotte a sense of legitimacy around the league when he came to the city. “This league, in terms of things like that, is important, how you’re perceived by the players,” Clifford said. “The players talk, and the fact that he came here has opened the door” for other signings.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Wall, Bazemore, Augustin

Bradley Beal called out his Wizards teammates for a lack of defensive effort after Saturday’s loss in Orlando, relays Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The fifth-year shooting guard, who signed a five-year extension over the summer worth nearly $128MM, hinted that lineup changes could be coming soon if things don’t change. “The biggest thing we can control is our defense and that’s all about effort and wanting to play,” Beal said. “I think coach [Scott Brooks] is pretty fed up with the way we’re playing and I think he’s going to start playing guys who want to play and guys who want to show up.” The Magic were able to make up a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter when reserves Trey Burke, Marcus Thornton, Kelly Oubre and Jason Smith were on the court together, so those are probably the players Beal is talking about.

There’s more this morning from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards are being careful with point guard John Wall after two offseason knee surgeries, which will put a greater burden on Beal, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Wall sat out Saturday’s game, which was the second night of a back-to-back, a situation where Wall will likely be held out as a precaution, at least for a while. Washington has three more back-to-backs on the schedule in November and two in December. “Trey and Tomas [Satoransky] got to step up as well and lead us as point guards,” Beal said. “I just got to be aggressive, play my game. Not take over and feel like I’ve got to do everything. I can’t do it by myself.”
  • Hawks guard Kent Bazemore is off to a rocky start after signing a four-year, $70MM contract this summer, notes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. He shot just 28% from the floor during the team’s first five games and is trying to find other ways to contribute until his scoring touch returns. “That’s one of the main reasons they brought me back, my tenacity and my love and passion for the game,” Bazemore said. “At times I’ve gotten a little down on myself. I’m human. It’s good that I can finally recognize that there is a time and place for everything and the middle of a game is not the time to get down on yourself.”
  • D.J. Augustin‘s scoring has been a pleasant early-season surprise for the Magic, writes John Denton of NBA.com. The veteran point guard, who signed a four-year deal with Orlando this summer, is averaging 7.8 points per game off the bench in limited minutes. “He’s really grown,” said Orlando coach Frank Vogel. “I had him a couple of years ago [in Indiana] and he’s improved as a player. He’s not just a catch-and-shoot guy. He’s making good basketball plays with the pass and his creativity with creating his own shot as well has improved. So he’s given us a big lift.’’