The Pacers are waiving Duane Washington and using the waiver-and-stretch provision on Malik Fitts, Juan Morgan and Nik Stauskas in order to create the necessary cap space to sign Deandre Ayton to a maximum-salary offer sheet, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).
Washington, 22, went undrafted last year after three college seasons with Ohio State. He signed a two-way contract with the Pacers and had a productive rookie season, appearing in 48 games (20.2 MPG) while averaging 9.9 PPG, 1.7 RPG and 1.8 APG on .404/.377/.754 shooting. More than half of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc.
Washington received a promotion at the end of the season when his two-way deal was converted to a standard contract, but his salary for next season was non-guaranteed. He and the team previously agreed to push back his guarantee date from July 6 until July 15, so he’ll be released one day in advance.
Fitts, Morgan and Stauskas were all sent to Indiana for salary-matching purposes as part of the trade that saw Malcolm Brogdon head to Boston. Each of the three players received significant guarantees on their minimum-salary contracts in order to complete the trade, but obviously none of them were part of Indiana’s long-term plans.
The stretch provision allows teams to pay players they waive over multiple years. In this case, the three salaries will be spread out over three seasons, because they were all waived between July 1 and August 31 and only had one year on their contracts.
Of the four players being waived, Washington seems like the best bet to immediately find a new team, whether it’s via waiver claim or a new deal after clearing waivers. Despite being a rookie, he had the most productive season in 2021/22, even if it was due in part to Indiana’s disappointing season that saw the team finish with a 25-57 record.