D.J. Augustin

Central Notes: Rubio, Washington, Cunningham, Thompson

Ricky Rubio‘s decision to take time away from basketball and focus on his mental health leaves the Cavaliers with an uncertain situation at backup point guard, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes in a mailbag column. Rubio didn’t offer any indication of how long he might be inactive, so there’s no way of knowing if he’ll be available when training camp opens in seven weeks or when the season starts in late October.

There’s no urgency for Cleveland to make a roster move, Fedor adds. The Cavs signed free agent Ty Jerome in the belief that he can handle a larger role than he had with Golden State, and Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert and two-way player Craig Porter Jr. are all capable of running the offense for short stretches. Fedor points out that there aren’t any strong options remaining in free agency, but Kendrick Nunn, Michael Carter-Williams, George Hill, Ish Smith, and D.J. Augustin are among the players still available.

General manager Mike Gansey scheduled a trip to Malaga, Spain, this summer to visit with Rubio and watch the Spanish World Cup team in action, according to Fedor. However, Rubio left training camp before Gansey arrived, so he devoted the trip to scouting instead.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers have expressed interest in P.J. Washington and may be “lurking” as his standoff with the Hornets continues, Fedor adds. He notes that Cleveland was able to take advantage of a similar situation in a sign-and-trade with Lauri Markkanen two years ago by offering a contract beyond what the Bulls were willing to pay. Fedor states that Rubio and Dean Wade would be enough to match salary if Washington would accept about $15MM per year, but he’s not sure if that and a few second-round picks would satisfy Charlotte.
  • Cade Cunningham is the only untouchable player on the Pistons‘ roster, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic writes in his annual evaluation of the team’s most valuable assets. Even though he missed most of last season after shin surgery, Cunningham is still viewed around the league as a potential superstar, according to Edwards. Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and rookie Ausar Thompson follow Cunningham on Edwards’ list.
  • Overtime Elite general manager Gerald Wilkins believes Thompson has a bright NBA future, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Wilkins offered a glowing recommendation to Jarrett Jack, a new member of the Pistons‘ coaching staff under Monty Williams. “He would ask me things like what are his strengths, what are his weaknesses, how can I get him the ball,” Wilkins said. “I would just tell him, ‘Just put him on the floor. Just put him in the game. They are basketball players, Ausar and Amen. They’re basketball players. You put him on the floor and a lot of good things are going to happen.’”

Rockets Sign D.J. Augustin For Rest Of Season

MARCH 23: The Rockets have officially signed Augustin for the remainder of the season, the team announced today (via Twitter).

MARCH 22: The Rockets are signing free agent point guard D.J. Augustin for the rest of the season, agent Raymond Brothers tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). It will be a minimum-salary contract, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

It will be Augustin’s second stint with the Rockets. He was acquired by Houston in a March 2021 trade and spent nearly a year with the organization before being waived in February 2022 at the trade deadline. He finished last season with the Lakers, but has been out of the NBA so far in 2022/23.

A reliable backup point guard for much of his career, Augustin has averaged 9.5 points and 3.9 assists per game in 976 career regular season appearances (23.4 MPG). At age 35, he may not have a whole lot left in the tank, but the Rockets are presumably adding him to their roster to serve as a veteran mentor for their young players rather than expecting him to play big minutes down the stretch.

The Rockets have two openings on their standard 15-man roster, so no corresponding moves will be necessary to make room for Augustin.

In fact, since it has nearly been two weeks since Willie Cauley-Stein‘s 10-day contract with Houston expired, the team was just about due for a mandatory roster move in order to get back to the NBA minimum of 14 players on standard contracts. Teams can only dip below that minimum for up to two weeks at a time.

Augustin’s exact rest-of-season salary will depend on when he officially signs his contract, but he’ll earn $16,700 per day.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Caruso, Vogel, Magic, Augustin, Gabriel

LeBron James dropped 56 points on the Warriors Saturday night, leading the Lakers to a 124-116 win and ending a four-game losing streak, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. James shot 19-of-31 from the field, 6-of-11 from three, and 12-of-13 from the line while adding 10 rebounds and three assists in nearly 39 minutes of action.

The 56-point effort tied Trae Young‘s NBA season-high and is the most points LeBron has scored in a game for Los Angeles, Buha notes. James said he was just happy to get a win.

It’s funny, our guys were following me off the floor tonight going into the locker room and they asked me, ‘How does it feel to score 56?’” James said. “I said, ‘Right now, I don’t give a damn about the 56. I’m just happy we got a win.’ That’s just literally the first thing that came to my mind.”

James’ spectacular performance was historic for a couple other reasons, Buha writes. He passed Karl Malone for the most combined regular season and postseason minutes, and became just the fourth player to record 50-plus points in a game at age 37 or older, joining Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Jamal Crawford.

There’s really no words for it,” coach Frank Vogel said of James’ 56-point game. “An incredible performance by the best to ever do it, in my opinion, and as I’ve said.”

The Lakers have had an undeniably disappointing season, barely clinging to the No. 9 seed in the West with a 28-35 record, but James has been consistently great on offense. He’s now tied with Giannis Antetokounmpo for second in the league in scoring with 29.4 points per game, just a tenth of a point behind Joel Embiid‘s league-leading 29.5. It’s James’ highest scoring average since 2009/10.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • A source tells Marc Stein of Substack that James was a leading supporter of Alex Caruso and badly wanted the Lakers to re-sign him, but the team declined to offer Caruso a contract comparable to the four-year, $37MM deal he received from the Bulls last summer due to luxury tax concerns. Caruso was having a strong season for Chicago, but has played just 28 games to this point and is currently sidelined with a fractured right wrist.
  • Appearing on NBA Today, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (video link) that the Lakers haven’t moved on from Vogel due to long-term injuries to Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn, and more importantly the front office doesn’t think that replacing Vogel would make a difference in the team’s performance. “(The Lakers) would like to get through the rest of this season with Frank Vogel,” Wojnarowski said.
  • Prior to Saturday’s game, in an appearance on NBA Countdown (video link), Magic Johnson said the trade for Westbrook “could go down as the worst trade in Laker history” if L.A. is unable to advance past the play-in tournament.
  • D.J. Augustin and Wenyen Gabriel are eager to make an impact with their new club, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. “I know they haven’t been playing up to everybody’s expectations, I would say,” Augustin said of the Lakers. “But it’s the NBA, and things happen. But we’re still in a good position where we can still have a chance. And that’s all you need in this league, is a chance.”

Pacific Notes: Payne, Booker, Covington, Augustin

With Chris Paul injured and Devin Booker in health and safety protocols, the Suns were happy to welcome Cameron Payne back tonight, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Payne, who injured his right wrist on January 22, was in the starting lineup as Phoenix hosted the Trail Blazers.

“Just his energy, his energy is contagious,” said Torrey Craig, who was still with the Pacers when Payne got hurt. “He likes to get the crowd into the game. He gets his teammates going. He plays with this level of confidence that teams need.”

After Paul hurt his thumb, coach Monty Williams replaced him in the starting lineup with Cameron Johnson and let Booker run the point. Williams is glad to have a true point guard back with the starters and to see Johnson return to providing instant offense with the second unit.

“It allows for the bench to have a bit more rhythm,” Williams said. “It puts Cam Johnson back into his role on the bench and now he could be the anchor out there as far as scoring. A guy who has been in our rotation and he knows what we’re doing.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The COVID-19 test that Booker took today was inconclusive, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. Booker will be permitted to play if he can produce negative tests two days in a row.
  • After Tuesday’s game, Clippers forward Robert Covington talked extensively about mental health issues and revealed that he almost quit playing basketball in 2019, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. It happened while he was trying to recover from a knee injury, and Covington claims the Sixers traded him to Minnesota after assuring him that he wouldn’t be moved. Covington now uses his experiences to try to help other players who may be going through difficult times. “I take positives, I take negatives, and I just reevaluate,” he said. “I don’t let them drain my energy. I just assess it in a different manner, to where it helps me. And that’s what I’ll allow myself to get to, because before, I couldn’t do that.”
  • D.J. Augustin didn’t have much time to prepare after finding out Monday that the Lakers wanted to sign him, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Augustin said he “threw anything in a bag” and caught a flight to L.A. the next day.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Augustin, Gabriel, Nunn

The Lakers‘ record fell to 27-34 on Tuesday, as the team entered the fourth quarter with a lead over Dallas but couldn’t hang on and lost by a score of 109-104. Los Angeles, the No. 9 seed in the West, is now just two games ahead of No. 11 Portland for a play-in spot, but Russell Westbrook – who acknowledged that he has to play better – still believes better things are ahead for the club.

“Super confident that we’re going to be all right,” Westbrook said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I’ve got confidence in this group, like I always have. And we can play the best teams. I’m not worried about nobody we have to play. We’ve beaten the best teams; we’ve lost to some of the worst teams. So, our confidence and my confidence in this group is extremely high because I know what we’re capable of when we put our mind to it and do exactly what we need to do on a night-in, night-out basis.”

As McMenamin writes, LeBron James missed some time about a month ago due to swelling in his left knee and said before the All-Star break that he’s still not 100%. However, James has no plans to shut his season down at any point and is committed to waiting until the offseason to rest his knee, sources tell ESPN.

“We still have games to play,” James said after Tuesday’s loss. “Until you stomp me out, cut my head off, bury me 12 feet under, then I got a chance. So that’s my confidence.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Head coach Frank Vogel is enthusiastic about what newly-signed point guard D.J. Augustin can bring to the team, as Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group relays. “I know his game really well,” Vogel said before Tuesday’s game. “He gets in late tonight – we’ll be able to sit down and talk more in depth about where he fits on our team. But I like what he brings to the table, not just with the off-ball ability, to shoot the basketball and stretch the floor and give our guys more space.”
  • Vogel also discussed new two-way player Wenyen Gabriel, who was signed on Tuesday along with Augustin. According to the Lakers’ head coach, Gabriel will join the NBA team immediately rather than being assigned to the G League. “The successful stints this year have been with Bron, Russ, (Anthony Davis), and the younger, energetic guys,” Vogel said, per Goon. “So, we’ll have to see what Wenyen brings to the table, but it is possible that he gets into the rotation and plays some.”
  • While replacing DeAndre Jordan and Sekou Doumbouya with Augustin and Gabriel adds more talent to the Lakers’ roster, the team had a greater need on the wing than at point guard, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines in his analysis of Tuesday’s roster moves.
  • Explaining why the Lakers felt comfortable trading away Rajon Rondo earlier in the season if they still needed to sign a veteran point guard later, Vogel said that Rondo was intended to be a third-string backup behind Westbrook and wasn’t a good fit alongside him, whereas Augustin should be able to play with or without Westbrook. “Their skill sets don’t fit,” Vogel said of Rondo and Westbrook (via Goon). “They don’t match on the floor. So (Rondo) was not playing, or when he was playing, he wasn’t a good formula for us.”
  • There’s still no timeline for injured point guard Kendrick Nunn to make his Lakers debut, Vogel told reporters on Tuesday. “We just don’t know about Kendrick,” he said, according to Goon. “We’re still hopeful that he comes around and is able to ramp up and do it without pain and the MRI comes back where we want to see it. It hasn’t happened yet. Until we see him back on the floor, we need help at that position and that skill set.” Buha believes the signing of Augustin suggests we likely won’t see Nunn this season.

Lakers Officially Complete Roster Moves

The Lakers have announced in a press release that they have officially signed free agent point guard D.J. Augustin and free agent power forward Wenyen Gabriel, two moves that had previously been announced as being in the works.

Los Angeles opted to waive reserve center DeAndre Jordan, clearing a spot for Augustin on the 15-man roster. Gabriel will replace Sekou Doumbouya on a two-way deal with the club.

The 34-year-old Augustin, most recently with the Rockets earlier this season, will provide a veteran presence backing up starting point guard Russell Westbrook. Augustin was selected with the ninth pick in the 2008 draft out of Texas, six spots behind Westbrook.

The 5’11” vet has previously suited up for the Hornets (back when they were the Bobcats), Pacers, Raptors, Bulls, Pistons, Thunder, Nuggets, Magic, and Bucks, before landing with Houston midway through the 2020/21 season. This season, Augustin averaged 5.4 PPG, 2.2 APG and 1.2 RPG across 34 games (15.0 MPG) in a reduced role for a rebuilding Rockets club.

The reeling Lakers have lost seven of their last 10 games, and currently occupy the Western Conference’s ninth seed with a disappointing 27-33 record. In Augustin, they’ll add a reliable bench option with a solid shooting stroke from deep. For his career, Augustin is connecting on 38% of his 3.4 three-point attempts a night. This season, he is converting 40.6% of his 2.8 looks. Westbrook, meanwhile, is making 29.2% of his 3.4 three-point tries per night.

Gabriel, 24, will be playing for his third team this season, following stints with the Nets and Clippers. Across seven NBA games this season, the 6’9″ Kentucky alum is averaging 6.7 MPG. In 10 contests this season for the Bucks’ NBA G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, Augustin averaged a far more robust 28.3 MPG, as well as 16.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.2 APG and 2.1 BPG.

Bobby Marks of ESPN adds (Twitter link) that Augustin will be earning a $622,467 salary through the rest of the season, with a cap hit of $393,312. That will increase the Lakers’ already-significant projected luxury tax bill to $45MM.

Jordan and Doumbouya are on track to clear waivers on Thursday if they’re not claimed. Both will be playoff-eligible if they join new teams. Jordan is reportedly receiving interest from the Sixers.

Lakers To Waive DeAndre Jordan, Sign D.J. Augustin

The Lakers are waiving DeAndre Jordan and are signing free agent guard D.J. Augustin. They also plan to sign forward Wenyen Gabriel to a two-way deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team had been seeking depth at the point behind Russell Westbrook.

Jordan played nine minutes in the blowout loss to New Orleans on Sunday but has seen limited action over the last two months. Overall, Jordan averaged 4.1 PPG and 5.4 RPG in 12.8 MPG in 32 games with the Lakers on a veteran’s minimum contract.

Jordan may not be out of work for long. The Sixers will aggressively pursue Jordan, either via a waiver claim or after he clears waivers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Augustin, meanwhile, was waived by the Rockets at the trade deadline. The 5’11” point guard, a 14-year NBA veteran, averaged 5.4 PPG, 2.2 APG and 1.2 RPG across 15.0 in 34 contests with Houston this season. Augustin, who has logged 955 regular-season games, will be playing for his 11th team.

Gabriel has spent time with the Nets, Clippers and Pelicans in 2021/22. All of his NBA contracts during this season were 10-day deals under the hardship provision.

Gabriel, who was waived by the Bucks during training camp, has played in seven NBA games this season — six for the Clippers and one for the Nets. The 24-year-old didn’t play at all during his most recent 10-day deal with New Orleans, but appeared in 21 games for the Pelicans last season. Overall, he has 58 career NBA appearances.

Los Angeles has Mason Jones and Sekou Doumbouya on two-way deals, so one of those players must be waived to make room for Gabriel.

Rockets Trade Daniel Theis To Celtics For Schröder, Two Others

8:27pm: The trade is official, according to press releases from both the Celtics and Rockets. As expected, Houston has officially waived guards D.J. Augustin and Armoni Brooks in order to complete the deal.

2:03pm: The Rockets are sending Daniel Theis back to the Celtics, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets that it will be for a package including Dennis Schröder.

Sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) that Enes Freedom and Bruno Fernando are also be headed to Houston in the deal. Woj reports that the Rockets will waive Freedom (via Twitter).

After sending Bol Bol and PJ Dozier to Orlando, agreeing to trade Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford to San Antonio in exchange for Derrick White, and now dealing three players for one, the Celtics have opened five roster spots today and figure to be aggressive on the buyout market.

Theis, 29, started his NBA career in Boston, appearing in parts of four season with the club prior to being traded to Chicago at last season’s deadline.

He signed a four-year, $35.6MM contract with Houston as a free agent last summer, with the 2024/25 season being a team option. It was a strange signing for a rebuilding Rockets team that had just used two first-round picks on young big men Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba. Theis had fallen out of the team’s rotation as it prioritized youth, averaging 8.4 points and 5.0 rebounds through 26 games (22.5 minutes).

Theis will provide a major defensive upgrade over Freedom and should see some backup center minutes for his old team. Obviously, the Celtics have a high level of familiarity with the German big man, and he’s been teammates with the majority of the roster after just being dealt away last year.

For the Rockets, the move is mostly about clearing their books. Schröder is having another decent year, averaging 14.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists through 49 games (29.2 minutes), but he’s on an expiring $5.9MM contract, which was the main appeal. Freedom and Fernando are also in the final year of their respective deals.

Fernando can become a restricted free agent this summer if Houston tenders him a qualifying offer, but that seems unlikely given the limited contributions he’s provided this point in his career. Still, the Rockets get a look at 23-year-old big man to see if they want to keep him around beyond this season.

It will be interesting to see if a market develops for Schröder this summer after he failed to secure the large contract he was hoping for in 2021. I suspect he’ll still fall in the mid-level exception range, as not many teams will have cash to spend on free agents in 2022.

Rockets To Cut D.J. Augustin, Armoni Brooks

To carve out roster room to complete their one-for-three trade with Boston, the Rockets will waive reserve guards D.J. Augustin and Armoni Brooks, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Earlier this week, aware that his days in Houston might be limited, Augustin expressed an interest in remaining on the Rockets roster through the trade deadline, despite his awareness that the Rockets would be prioritizing the development of their younger players. The 5’11” point guard, a 14-year NBA veteran, averaged 5.4 PPG, 2.2 APG and 1.2 RPG across 15.0 in 34 contests with Houston this season.

The 23-year-old Brooks, a second-year player out of the University of Houston, also never carved out major minutes with the Rockets this year. The 6’3″ shooting guard averaged 16.8 MPG in 41 games this year. He scored 6.2 PPG on 34.7% field goal shooting, and also chipped in 2.0 RPG and 1.2 APG.

Brooks saw a far more robust role with the Rockets during his rookie season, albeit in just 20 games as a two-way contract signing. He averaged 11.2 PPG on 40.6% field goal shooting for the Rockets, along with 3.4 RPG and 1.5 APG.

Augustin’s $7.33MM salary for next season was partially guaranteed, but only for $333K. None of the remaining three years on Brooks’ contract beyond this season included guaranteed money.

Augustin and Brooks will become free agents on Saturday if they’re not claimed on waivers. Augustin could be a popular target for playoff teams looking to add backcourt depth.

Southwest Notes: Augustin, Silas, Mavericks, McCollum

Veteran Rockets point guard D.J. Augustin, 34, hopes to remain in Houston through the NBA trade deadline, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Should the Rockets opt not to pick up his partially-guaranteed deal this summer, the rebuilding club’s oldest player could become a free agent. The 5’11” guard is averaging 5.4 PPG and 2.2 APG in just 15.0 MPG this season.

“At this point in my career, man, whatever the team needs from me, whatever the coach needs from me, the organization needs, I’m going to do my job and do what I need to do,” Augustin said.

At times this season, head coach Stephen Silas has opted not to play Augustin at all, in favor of giving the team’s younger prospects more run. Augustin does concede that he would like a consistent role in the Rockets’ rotation, but accepts that that may not be what Houston requires.

“I would like minutes, period,” he said. “That’s not my role right now with this team.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • With NBA trade deadline chatter swirling, Rockets head coach Stephen Silas is trying to help his current Houston players focus on the task at hand as much as possible, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Feigen notes that the Rockets have been active at the trade deadline for the past 16 straight years. “It is our job as a coaching staff, as a management team to make sure everybody is pointed in the direction of things that you can control,” Silas said. “I know that there’s other stuff out there and rumors. There’s always rumors and false narratives going on. But really focusing on what you can control makes everybody’s job easier. Whatever happens, you adapt to that.”
  • The 32-23 Mavericks could opt to develop their current chemistry at the trade deadline or make changes. In a roundtable, Callie Caplan, Brad Townsend and Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News debate how Dallas should move forward at the deadline. Sherrington cautions that it may prove difficult for the Mavericks to re-sign both Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith. Caplan suggests that the Mavericks maintain their core players, noting that the team seems capable of fending off most Western Conference contenders. Caplan adds that Raptors point guard Goran Dragic could make a nice addition with the Mavericks, should he get a buyout.
  • After acquiring sharp-shooting guard CJ McCollum, forward Larry Nance Jr. and deep-bench reserve Tony Snell from the Trail Blazers today, the Pelicans are clearly hoping to make a play-in tournament push, writes Will Guillory of The Athletic. The club has gone 19-16 in its last 35 contests. Guillory notes that McCollum, an excellent scorer and ball-handler, could prove to be a stellar partner for star forwards Brandon Ingram and, when healthy, Zion Williamson. New Orleans is currently the tenth seed in the West, with a 22-32 record.