Although it may seem as if A. J. Price has been on his way out of Indianapolis almost since before he arrived in town, the truth is that the former University of Connecticut standout was still officially a member of the Indiana Pacers until he became a free agent in early July. Although he was undoubtedly part of the Pacers' problems at point guard over the last few seasons, I think he was undoubtedly a victim of circumstances in some regards. In any case, Price was presumably given a new lease on his NBA life on July 24 when the Washington Wizards signed him to a free agent contract. And, while basketball in the nation's capital may not be as pretty as it is here among the Hoosier cornfields, Price may get a chance to help turn around a long-suffering franchise.
The Wizards have spent the summer trying to build around point guard John Wall, coming off an impressive rookie season, but still raw and not yet 22 years old. Wall is obviously the star and centerpiece of this team, and his presence means that Price will most definitely not be a starter, but the former Pacer should provide a nice veteran shoulder for the youngster to lean on. If Wall averages around 36 minutes per game, as he did last season, then Price should be able to come close to his playing time from 2011-12, when he logged about 13 minutes per contest for the Blue and Gold. Of course, this is probably not what Price had in mind a few years ago when he was still at U. Conn.
In his earlier days, Price was a pretty fast but raw talent who could control the ball well and could really drain three-pointers. A series of serious knee injuries, including a fractured patella in 2010, robbed him of much of his mobility and put him well behind his young teammates as the Pacers were building themselves back into a contender. Former head coach Jim O'Brien soured on Price, and the rehabbing guard never fit really well with new head man Frank Vogel's schemes and endless energy. In his three years in Indy, Price did manage to get into 150 games, but it always seemed as if he were an afterthought.
Now, price has the chance to play with some exciting young players and work his way into the fold as the Wizards try to finally bring a winner to Washington. If they succeed, Price may have found a solid NBA home.
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Pacers fan since the early 1980s and has witnessed the rise and fall of a great NBA franchise. He follows the current club closely and is happy to see the Pacers begin their next ascent.
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