Price, a former second-round pick out of Connecticut in 2009, has averaged six points and two assists in three seasons with Indiana and became an unrestricted free agent earlier this month when the Pacers renounced their rights to him.
“A.J. is an experienced and dependable player who fits in well with the mix of proven veterans and young players we have on our roster,” Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement. “Adding him will help to bring depth to our backcourt rotation.”
After a decent rookie season, Price’s role diminished the next two seasons. Price, 25, served as a primary backup to Darren Collison when George Hill was injured last season but he fell out of the rotation when the Pacers acquired Leandro Barbosa from Toronto. He became expendable when Indiana signed free agent point guards Hill and D.J. Augustin, but he has been on playoff teams in each of the past two seasons.
With second-year point guard Shelvin Mack struggling to effectively run the team during summer league and Tomas Satoransky, the 32nd pick last June, proving that he still needed some more seasoning before coming to the NBA, the Wizards were in hot pursuit of a veteran backup point guard for John Wall, but the list of available prospects continued to shrink each day.
They reached out to John Lucas III on the first day of free agent negotiating, but he is close to signing a deal with Toronto. They contacted former Wizard Kirk Hinrich about making a return but he decided to go back to his original team, Chicago, and will be introduced on Tuesday in a news conference.
Ronnie Price had latched on in Portland and C.J. Watson has joined the Brooklyn Nets. Randy Foye has reportedly signed with the Utah Jazz, though he was unlikely to return to Washington given his awkward one season and past in Minnesota with Coach Randy Wittman.
The Wizards now have 13 players under contract and are under the salary cap after using the amnesty provision to waive Andray Blatche, but they aren’t in a rush to use the available money. The preference, according to league sources, was to fill out the roster with players on minimum deals.
Former sixth overall pick Jonny Flynn was also available but the Wizards were lukewarm on adding him, according to a league source. Keyon Dooling and Jannero Pargo were also available. The team had some interested in Shaun Livingston, who is currently signed to a non-guaranteed deal with the rebuilding Houston Rockets and has been rumored to be a candidate to be released if the team needs more cap room in its continued maneuvering to get Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum. But they didn’t have much time to wait.
Price, a native of Amityville, N.Y., went to the same high school as former Wizards point guard Mike James. He averaged just 3.9 points and 2 assists on 33.9 percent shooting – and 29.5 percent shooting from beyond the three-point line. His scoring average and field goal percentage have declined each year in the NBA.
Bringing back Roger Mason Jr., Maurice Evans or James Singleton also remains high on the Wizards’ priority list, but the team already has depth at nearly every position. Mason is also not interested in signing another one-year deal at the league minimum, as he has the past two seasons, according to a source close to Mason. Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers have also expressed interest in Mason.
The Wizards are not in a hurry to add more players.
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