Counterpoint: Something’s Missing in the Baby-for-Augustin Rumors
Posted by Zach Lowe on Feb 9, 2010
“[The Celtics] come in and intimidate you and try to punk you. But if you don’t back down from them, they kind of fold.” -D.J. Augustin, 1/6/09
Something doesn’t add up in the reports that the Celtics have discussed dealing Glen Davis to Charlotte in exchange for D.J. Augustin. I’m not saying Chris Broussard is wrong; the man knows the league and is as plugged-in as they come. I’m saying that I doubt the C’s are discussing an Augustin-Davis deal on its own, for its own sake, without a second deal in mind or plans to bring a third team into the Charlotte deal.
As you’ve read all over the place by now, a Davis-Augustin one-for-one deal doesn’t work because Davis is a base-year compensation player. This means that he counts as $1.5 million in outgoing salary for Boston but as $3 million in incoming salary (his real salary) for Charlotte. Augustin makes about $2.3 million, so a straight-up deal doesn’t work. You have to add a player on each side to get the math right.
But here’s my larger point: The Celtics are not going to remove an asset from their front line and add one to their back court unless they are getting another big man from somewhere else.
Take away Big Baby, and the Celtics have exactly one interior banger (Perk) left in the rotation. The rest of the front line would consist of two jump-shooters (Sheed and KG), one banger who can’t get off the bench (Shelden Williams) and whatever Brian Scalabrine is. That is not enough—not with Sheed on the wrong side of 35 and the uncertain health of KG’s knee.
Any deal that subtracts Baby and leaves Boston with Augustin, Eddie House, Marquis Daniels and Tony Allen leaves a lot of overlapping parts among the guards/small-ish swing men and too few reliable big guys. I just don’t see it.
I also don’t think Charlotte has the big man the Celtics want. Nazr Mohammed is having perhaps his best season ever, but the Bobcats will look to keep him if they are serious about making the playoffs—even though he’s on the books for nearly $7 million next season. The C’s want no part of Tyson Chandler’s salary; DeSagana Diop is one of the worst offensive players in the league; and, well, that about covers it for Charlotte’s big men.
The new big man I’d like in this scenario if I were Danny Ainge would have to come from a third team either as part of this deal or in a separate trade. Bill Simmons, upon hearing of the Davis-Augustin talks, quickly proposed a monster four-team deal involving the Kings and Rockets, Ray Allen, Tracy McGrady’s expiring contract and complementary photos of George Hill. The C’s don’t get a big man in the Simmons proposal, but they would at least get a guy (Andres Nocioni) capable of playing the four in a pinch.
In any case, who exactly is D.J. Augustin? Well he’s a short (listed at 6’0”) point guard from Texas who had a solid rookie season last year, primarily because he hit 43.9 percent of his three-pointers, one of the top marks in the league. That number is down to a more realistic 36.3 percent this season, and everything else about Augustin is down with it. He’s playing about nine fewer minutes per game (17.8, down from 26.5), he’s shooting 37 percent from the floor overall and his passing and rebounding numbers (never good in the first place) are worse this season than last.
He can run a decent screen/roll, but he hasn’t shown he can be a consistently effective creator for others or a finisher at the rim; Augustin is hitting just 38 percent of his shot attempts at the rim, according to Hoopdata; the league average for point guards on such shots this season is around 56 percent. (Augustin hit about 49 percent last season, which is acceptable). His assist rate (about 20 percent this season) would have ranked about 40th among 80 guards who qualified for the scoring title last year—not where you want to find a point guard.
As for his defense, the numbers don’t suggest he’s as much of a liability as you’d perhaps imagine given his height. Opposing point guards have put up below average numbers against him, according to 82games.com and Basketball Prospectus, and the Bobs defense is playing a touch better with him on the floor this season versus with him on the bench. (They were a touch worse with him on the floor last season). His plus/minus numbers, both raw and adjusted, are neutral.
He’s young and has some promise, but you could say the same for Glen Davis.
Stay tuned, I guess. Only eight days left until the trade deadline (mercifully) arrives.