The Pacers added some backcourt depth on Thursday by bringing back a familiar face. The team announced this afternoon that they have signed 28-year-old free agent point guard A.J. Price.
The Pacers originally drafted Price out of UConn with the 52nd overall pick in 2009, and he spent three full seasons with the team.
PHOTOS: A.J. Price Career Gallery »
With point guards George Hill (bruised left knee) and C.J. Watson (bruised right foot) both sidelined for multiple weeks and fellow guard Rodney Stuckey also dealing with foot problems in recent days, Price provides Indiana with valuable insurance and much-needed depth at point guard for the short term.
Donald Sloan, the team’s only healthy point guard for the time being, has already logged 180 minutes in the team's first five games, nearly half of the total minutes he played all of last season. While Sloan has performed admirably given the situation and is coming off a career night in Wednesday's overtime loss in Washington (31 points, six rebounds, and seven assists), he could no doubt benefit from a little more rest.
The addition of Price will allow head coach Frank Vogel to reduce Sloan’s minutes by spelling him with another capable ball-handler. That added depth is especially important right now, as the Pacers are in the midst of playing five games in seven days.
During his three seasons in Indiana, Price appeared in 150 games, almost exclusively in a reserve role. Over that time, the 6-foot-2 point guard averaged 6.0 points and 2.0 assists per game. He was a popular player in the team locker room, but opted to sign elsewhere after the 2011-12 season.
Before Price left, head coach Frank Vogel expressed hope that the team would work out a way to bring him back.
"A.J. is a pure point guard who really knows how to run a team," Vogel said at the time.
Price's biggest struggle was finding consistency with his outside shot. After shooting 41 percent from the field and .345 from beyond the 3-point arc as a rookie, Price's percentages took significant dips his next two seasons, falling to .356 from the field and .275 from 3-point range in 2010-11 and then .339 and .295 in 2011-12.
Price signed with the Wizards for the 2012-13 season, where he enjoyed the most playing time of his career. He started 22 of 57 games in Washington, averaging 7.7 points and 3.6 assists.
Last season, Price appeared in 28 games for Minnesota, but received minimal playing time, logging just 99 total minutes. He spent training camp with the Cavaliers this fall, but was waived on Nov. 1.
Since Price left, it's been a bit of revolving door at point guard behind starter George Hill. Darren Collison was traded that summer for Ian Mahinmi and the team brought in D.J. Augustin and Ben Hansbrough. Both players spent one year with the franchise before Indiana added Watson and Sloan in the summer of 2013.
Price's return to Indiana figures to be a move that will go over well in the locker room and also help the team on the court in the short term. His familiarity with Vogel's system should hopefully allow Price to immediately step into the lineup, beginning with Friday's game in Boston.