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NBA

Los Angeles Lakers sign Augustin to support Westbrook

The struggling Lakers have moved to snap up point guard D.J. Augustin, as well as waiving DeAndre Jordan and bringing in Wenyen Gabriel.

Update:
Los Angeles Lakers sign Augustin to support Westbrook
Nick TurchiaroUSA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are making three changes to their roster as they bid to get their struggling team back on track. The Lakers are in danger of failing even to make the play-in tournament, which provides the final two playoff places in each conference, and the fans at Crypto.com Arena have grown so tired of the team’s poor displays that there have been boos for Frank Vogel’s men. Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ general manager, is making a number of last-ditch moves after doing no deals at the trade deadline (a lack of business that has sparked heightened tensions with LeBron James, who made comments on All-Star Weekend that were interpreted as a warning to the franchise).

Augustin in for the Lakers at point guard

The first move has been revealed by NBA insider Shams Charania. A new point guard is coming in and it’s the man the Lakers wanted as a backup two years ago, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out. D.J. Augustin, who has played for the Houston Rockets this season and is now a free agent, is to sign for the Los Angeles team. The Lakers missed out on Goran Dragic, who has finally chosen to join the Brooklyn Nets, and Augustin, 34, will bring ability on outside shooting and good control of offensive situations. He has been allowed to leave Houston as the Rockets already had John Wall in reserve, as well as Dennis Schröder, who has finally opted to try his luck in Texas until the end of the season. Augustin began his career with the Charlotte Bobcats and has played his best basketball both at the Bobcats and at the Chicago Bulls, the Denver Nuggets and the Orlando Magic. He has made 993 appearances in the NBA, averaging 9.3 points per regular season game.

DeAndre Jordan out, Wenyen Gabriel in

The second and third moves, which are of less significance, are a change in personnel in the frontcourt. DeAndre Jordan, an experienced player who has made scant impact this season, is to be waived by the Lakers. The franchise that’s best placed to sign the 33-year-old, according to well-connected NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, is the Philadelphia 76ers. Following the departure of Andre Drummond, the 76ers have a gap to fill when it comes to giving Joel Embiid rest time. With Jordan leaving, the Lakers have sought to provide some frontcourt depth by signing up Wenyen Gabriel on a two-way contract. The 24-year power forward, who this season has made seven NBA appearances between the Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers, and has also turned out for G League team Wisconsin Herd, is a short-term signing. Gabriel isn’t expected to get many minutes, although Jordan’s departure and Anthony Davis’ continuing injury absence could serve to give him opportunities.

One man who is in line for plenty of court time is Augustin, however. Russell Westbrook is Vogel’s starting point guard, and the Los Angeles head coach also has three combo guards who can fill the role in Avery Bradley, Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker, but none are out-and-out point guards like Augustin, who will share ball time with the players previously mentioned, with LeBron and, if they coincide, with Austin Reeves, who is capable of creating with dribbles to the basket. Bradley is struggling with a knee problem and summer signing Kendrick Nunn has not even been able to make his debut, having so far failed to recover from a knee injury.

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