Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pistons Sign DJ Augustin, Caron Butler

According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Stein, respectively, the Pistons have reached agreements with PG D.J. Augustin and SF Caron Butler tonight.  Vincent Goodwill has confirmed the deals and offered more details.  Augustin will be on a two-year deal worth $6M (reported by Woj) and Butler will be on a one-year deal with a team option for a second year.  According to Marc Stein, Butler's deal will be worth $9M if he's on the roster for both years.
Click "Read More" for a breakdown of who Augustin and Butler are...

 These signings should have major implications on the Pistons roster going into training camp.   The Pistons now have five PGs on the roster with Brandon Jennings, DJ Augustin, Spencer Dinwiddie, Will Bynum and Peyton Siva.  Siva's deal doesn't become guaranteed until July 20th and Will Bynum wouldn't cost much to waive, especially if his contract is stretched.  My best guess is that those two will be gone.  With the signing of Aaron Gray last week, it also seems that Josh Harrellson won't be back, mostly due to injury concerns.  With the assumption that the Pistons make the aforementioned moves, and that Monroe is brought back, this is what we're looking at:

PG: Brandon Jennings, DJ Augustin, Spencer Dinwiddie
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jodie Meeks
SF: Kyle Singler, Caron Butler, Cartier Martin, Luigi Datome
PF: Greg Monroe, Josh Smith, Jonas Jerebko, Tony Mitchell
C: Andre Drummond, Aaron Gray

This also assumes that no more moves are coming.  Only the newly acquired players and Andre Drummond are really assured of staying put before training camps starts.  We could easily see any combination of Brandon Jennings, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (in the right deal), Kyle Singler, Luigi Datome, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith, Jonas Jerebko or Tony Mitchell moved in one capacity or another.  The Butler/Augustin signings hardly seem like the kind of moves that are finishing touches on an off-season. 

Now, who are DJ Augustin and Caron Butler at the current stages of their careers?  Augustin has bounced around the league a bit after an up-and-down career with the Charlotte Bobcats.  He was taken 9th overall in 2008, one pick before Brook Lopez, in a draft that also produced Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook.  Anybody who had designs on Augustin becoming a star like those players never had realistic expectations, however.  At only 6'0, 180 lbs, Augustin doesn't have the body-type to be a dominant lead guard.  Rather, his upside is what he gave Chicago in Rose's stead in the second half last season: very strong three-point shooting, measured playmaking and a penchant for getting to the free throw line (.318 FTr).  That's what the Pistons will be looking for from him this year, on what could turn into a bargain contract.  Here's what Augustin gave to the Bulls last season over the course of 61 games:

16.8 14.9 57.4% 51.4% 41.1% .318 29.3% 12.8%

If he can replicate 75% of that at $3M per season, start building a statue of Stan Van Gundy outside of The Palace of Auburn Hills.  While I don't expect Augustin to be nearly that good next season, he should represent a massive upgrade over Will Bynum and a competent alternative on nights when Brandon Jennings is in full Brandon Jennings mode.  This should prove to be one of the better low-key signings of the off-season across the league.

Caron Butler, on the other hand, has seen better days.  I find it a little humorous that he'll be making more than Augustin this season, but that's probably why these guys splurge for agents.  Butler was once one of the premier wings in the NBA, but at age 34 is strictly a role player.  In split time between Milwaukee and Oklahoma City last season Butler shot 39.4% from behind the long line.  In the comfy confines of the space created by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Butler managed to convert 45 of his 102 three-point attempts, a 44.1% clip.  Unless Andre Drummond is ready to turn into Shaq, the space is likely to be at more of a premium.  Regardless, Butler should give the Pistons more floor-spacing than what they employed last season.  Whether or not it's worth $4.5 million dollars is what we'll find out. 

These moves should signal to Pistons fans that Stan Van Gundy is committed to building smart instead of building with ridiculous home run swings.  DJ Augustin and Caron Butler aren't going to get the attention of Grantland.  Jodie Meeks and Aaron Gray aren't going to inspire discussions about what things will be like "if" they figure it out.  What the newly acquired Pistons are, with the exception of Butler, are players entering their prime seasons.  They're low risk guys who should fit well in the locker room.  This off-season couldn't be any more different than last year's catastrophe that got Dumars fired.  If you were paying attention the last four or five years, you're well aware that this is a good change of pace.  These moves don't put the Pistons firmly in the playoff picture, but it's hard to see these moves blowing up in Van Gundy's face.  This off-season has the Pistons positioned well moving forward for the first time in half a decade.  I, for one, am excited about what's coming next. 

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