I had two immediate thoughts when I saw the Indiana Pacers were waving former Ohio State guard Duane Washington Jr. after his rookie season. The first one was, “man that’s weird,” and the second one was, “thank god.” The Pacers are a trainwreck, and Washington is better off really anywhere else. They don’t have an identity right now and they are struggling to really make much of their future. Not the best place for a rookie to be.
Based off how he played last season in just his rookie campaign, Washington proved he can be a valuable rotation player in the league. He showed flashes of elite and streaky shooting, shot creation and improved passing and defense from his collegiate days.
Washington averaged 9.9 points per game averaging 20 minutes per contest with the Indiana Pacers his rookie season.
He originally signed a two-way contract, and that was converted to a standard contract after the season. And then he was released from the Pacers in order for them to be able to offer Deandre Ayton a max contract offer sheet. However, the Suns matched the offer sheet the Pacers gave Ayton, and Ayton will be returning to Phoenix. Kind of a mess for the Pacers.
NBA teams may have up to two players under NBA Two-Way Contracts who will spend the bulk of the season in the NBA G League and not more than 45 days with their NBA team. Two-way players are paid a corresponding daily amount based on the number of days they play in each league. Only players in their fourth NBA season or earlier are able to sign two-way contracts, which can be for either one or two seasons.
Since Washington and the Pacers have parted ways, where could the former Buckeye guard land?
This is the obvious one and the one I have already seen floated around. The formula to play and succeed with LeBron James is not difficult. Surround him with shooters and guys who can create off the dribble — AKA, Duane Washington Jr.
There is no reason Washington cant have a season like Austin Reeves, Talen Horton Tucker or even Malik Monk had this past season. Russell Westbrook is struggling, but he can still average 10 assists per game, and Anthony Davis is still a top five player in the NBA if he is healthy. A big if at this point no doubt.
If they can get all their big three on the court at the same time, Washington could be a perfect glove fit on that team.
What is a good list without a little bit of bias? I am a Cavs fan, and I want Washington off the bench. That is pretty much the reason. The Cavs have been going against the grain and the traditional NBA with the size they play, with so bringing in a guy like Washington can help even that out.
Plus, they have yet to extend the contracts of Caris Levert and Collin Sexton, so they may need some new guards if they do not end up doing that, especially ones that may be cheaper to sign so they can hold out hope that LeBron James might return. But I am not going down that rabbit hole right now.
I am pretty sure every shooter in the league would give up an arm and a leg to play with Luka Doncic right now. One of the best passers in the game, Doncic has elite vision and can find anyone on the court at any time. Plus, the Mavericks just lost Jalen Brunson to New York, so they need a guard to step in and attempt to fill that void. Washington doesn’t have to come in and be a 20-point per game guy, but he can step in and help give the Mavs some much needed shooting help next to Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney Smith.
The Suns are one of the five or six teams that are the main contenders for an NBA championship next season, pushing their chips into the middle of the table with the re-signing of center Deandre Ayton to a max contract.
Also, the Pacers released Washington to make space for signing Deandre Ayton, so Washington landing with the Suns and inevitably playing with Ayton feels fitting. Plus, any shooter playing with Chris Paul and Devin Booker should be loving life pretty much immediately.
This one is a little more off the wall, but I like the fit immensely. First of all, the Thunder were dead last during this past season in three-point field goal percentage, so adding a shooter cant hurt. Plus, the Thunder have a very solid young core in Josh Giddey, Chet Holmgren and Tre Mann, Washington fits on that team very well and can help them grow. Washington could be a key piece to the Thunder’s evolution.