Orlando Magic Sign D.J. Augustin
By John Denton
July 7, 2016
ORLANDO – A free agent each of the past four offseasons and with a family that recently welcomed a third child, D.J. Augustin sought a NBA home this summer where he could plant some roots and establish some continuity in his well-traveled NBA career.
With the Orlando Magic, Augustin got both the long-term security that he wanted and a role where he will be looked to to provide depth, playing-making and long-range shooting from the back-up point guard position.
Augustin, a 28-year-old veteran of eight NBA seasons, signed a multi-year free-agent contract with the Magic on Thursday. Augustin has played for seven NBA teams – five of them coming in the past three seasons as he’s been traded twice mid-season. Finding a home in Orlando was important to him, he said on Thursday.
``I have a family with three kids now and being somewhere that’s stable and being somewhere long-term was very important to me,’’ Augustin said. ``I’m very excited to be here.’’
Thursday was the first day that NBA teams and players were allowed to officially sign contracts. The free-agent courting period opened on July 1 and the Magic and Augustin quickly reached a hand-shake agreement on a deal early in the process – something that showed both sides’ willingness to come together.
``It was great because they made me feel like I was a part of the team before I even agreed,’’ Augustin said of the Magic’s aggressive pursuit of him. ``Knowing that somebody wanted you as much as they did meant a lot to me and my family.
``It’s a great time for me,’’ he continued. ``And with the moves that the Magic made, I feel like we have a great team and we can do a lot of things this year.’’
In Orlando, Augustin will most likely backup incumbent starting point guard Elfrid Payton, while battling for minutes with fellow veteran C.J. Watson. Whereas Payton is known for his defense and his ability to make plays for others, Augustin and Watson provide accurate 3-point shooting and they also can play off the ball. Additionally, they bring more veteran leadership to a young team that lacked a voice much of last season while going 35-47.
``Elfrid is actually from New Orleans and so am I and we’ve already been talking,’’ Augustin said. ``It’s just about me being there and helping him with whatever he needs to do and off the court knowing what to do, what not to do. On the court, I usually lead by example and I want to be the best example that I can be for him. We’re going to compete in practice and try to make each other better and make the team better.’’
Augustin, a 6-foot, 183-pound point guard, has been in high demand in recent years because of his growth as a playmaker and a 3-point shooter. In 2013-14 with Chicago and Toronto, he averaged 4.4 assists per game while shooting 40.1 percent from 3-point range; in 2014-15 with Detroit and Oklahoma City, he averaged 4.3 assists per game off the bench while shooting 33.7 percent from 3-point range; and in 2015-16 with OKC and Denver, he averaged 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range.
For his career, the No. 9 pick from the 2008 NBA Draft has averaged 9.8 points, 4.0 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 0.6 steals a game while shooting 40.4 percent from the floor and 37.4 percent from 3-point range.
Orlando and the rest of the NBA had to be impressed with the way that Augustin finished this past season, averaging 11.6 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range in 28 games with the Nuggets. His play was good enough to unseat former Magic point guard Jameer Nelson as the primary backup at point guard behind standout rookie Emmanuel Mudiay. Coincidentally, he will wear No. 14 in Orlando – the same number that Nelson wore in 10 seasons with the Magic.
``I’ve been doing that the last four years,’’ said Augustin, referring to his strong finish to the season in Denver. ``What I did the last few games in Denver, I’ve been doing that for years. Guys get injured, I will step up and play starters’ minutes or whatever my coach needs me to do. I’m confident in my game, I know what I can do and I think most of the NBA knows also.’’
Augustin played for new Magic coach Frank Vogel in 2012-13 with the Indiana Pacers. He played in 76 games that season, but had one of the worst statistical years of his career by averaging just 4.7 points and 2.2 assists in 16.1 minutes a game.
However, Augustin rebounded a year later with one of the best seasons of his career. He signed with the Bulls at the start of 2013, got traded to Toronto later that season and still averaged 13 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 40.1 percent from 3-point range in 71 games.
``That year I was there in Indiana (with Vogel), I think we led the NBA in defense,’’ Augustin remembered. ``With the guys that we have here in Orlando we have the chance to be a really good defensive team. That’s what wins games and that’s what wins championships.
``That’s why I know we have a good chance of making the playoffs this year,’’ Augustin continued. ``Offense usually comes from defense. That’s going to be a big key for us this year, playing great defense.’’
Coming off the bench should be no problem in Orlando for Augustin, who has been used as a reserve more than a starter in six of his eight NBA seasons. In 573 NBA games in his career, he’s started just 29.6 percent of the time (170 starts).
``I’ve always played my game no matter what situation I was in. I’ve never changed the way that I’ve played my whole career and I’m not going to change now,’’ Augustin said of not relaxing now that he has a long-term deal in Orlando. ``As far as my contract situation, knowing that my family is going to be fine, that’s a great situation for me. Other than that, I’m not going to change the way that I play.’’
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