Duane Washington Jr. signs elsewhere after one season with the Pacers
He agreed to a deal with the Pacers following the 2021 draft. A year later, and after being waived, he's heading out west.
Nineteen days after being waived by the Pacers, Duane Washington Jr. has decided on his future.
The second-year guard signed a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. It reunites him with former teammate Torrey Craig as he’s joining a team that when 64-18 last season led by Monty Williams, the 2021-22 Coach of the Year.
The 6-foot-3 shooting guard was called upon often in his rookie year due to injuries, especially to backcourt players. He appeared in 48 games last season and averaged 9.9 points off the bench.
On April 7, the team promoted Washington Jr. and Terry Taylor from two-way deals to three-year NBA contracts. However, Washington Jr.’s new deal didn’t have any guarantees beyond the rest of the 2021-22 season.
Leading into free agency, the Pacers and his agency agreed to push back his contract guarantee date from July 6 to July 15. Team president Kevin Pritchard later told me that was done “just to keep flexibility.”
Then on July 14, one day before his contract became guaranteed, he was waived, along with three of the five players acquired in the trade with the Celtics to move off Malcolm Brogdon: Nik Stauskas, Juwan Morgan and Malik Fitts.
That was done to create enough cap space to offer Suns center Deandre Ayton a four-year max deal starting at $30.9 million per season. Ayton was a restricted free agent, which allowed the Suns to match any offer. And they did.
The Pacers then expressed interest in bringing Washington Jr. to training camp, a league source told Fieldhouse Files, but he wanted more than that. So after considering a handful of options, he elected to sign with the Suns.
The Pacers liked Washington Jr., especially the coaching staff, but they clearly weren’t willing to use one of their two-way contracts on him. And the numbers worked against him. The Pacers drafted two guards and now have an excess of players in the backcourt.
Tyrese Haliburton, T.J. McConnell, Andrew Nembhard, Benedict Mathurin, Chris Duarte and Buddy Hield. And when Aaron Nesmith, a 2020 lottery pick, was included in the trade with the Celtics, that said it all.