Indiana Pacers

Pacers Notes: George, Hairston, Turner

Paul George officially became eligible for a new contract extension on Sunday, and as I explained last week, there are multiple pros and cons to consider as he decides whether or not to re-up with the Pacers this year. For his part though, George doesn’t seem to have those pros and cons weighing too heavily on his mind. Speaking to reporters today, George said he’s focused on the season and is “not even thinking about” his contract situation, per Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link).

Presumably, George’s agent is thinking about a little more than his client is, so it’s not out of the question that the Pacers and their All-Star forward could reach an agreement prior to the regular season. As we wait to see whether a new deal for George is in the cards, let’s round up a few more Pacers notes…

  • According to Pacers head coach Nate McMillan, the team is heading into camp with 19 players, and three of those players will eventually end up with the D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Twitter link via Taylor). Barring any surprises, Julyan Stone, Nick Zeisloft, and Alex Poythress, whose deals aren’t fully guaranteed, are the best bets to end up at Fort Wayne.
  • Free agent swingman P.J. Hairston, who recently worked out for Brooklyn, also had a workout with the Pacers, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • Myles Turner is currently in the NBA’s concussion protocol, McMillan said today (Twitter link via Taylor). However, Turner’s regular-season availability isn’t expected to be impacted. McMillan expects the young big man to join George, Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, and Thaddeus Young in the starting lineup to open the year (Twitter link via Taylor).

Aaron Brooks Explains Why He Chose Pacers

  • Explaining why he chose to sign with the Pacers in free agency, Aaron Brooks suggests to Jim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star that he thinks the team’s roster is “loaded,” and that at this stage in his career he wants to play on “a team that’s winning games.” Brooks also knows his role in Indiana and believes he’ll be a an ideal fit off the bench behind starting point guard Jeff Teague.

Extension Candidate: Paul George

Many of the subjects profiled in our Extension Candidate series are good bets to receive maximum-salary contract offers, but that generally doesn’t stop us from discussing whether those players are actually worth the max, or whether they’ll be willing to accept slightly less in an extension. However, in the case of Paul George, who becomes extension-eligible this Sunday, president Larry Bird took the air out of that debate before it even began.Paul George vertical

“I know he don’t want to talk about it all year and I don’t either,” Bird said this week, discussing a potential extension for George. “We want Paul here and we know what it’s going to cost and what it’s going to take. If Paul wants to get a deal done, we will. It’s a max deal. There’s no others, so there’s no use talking about it. If he wants it, he’s got it.”

Even though the Pacers still have George under control for two more seasons (plus a third-year player option), it comes as no surprise that the team wants to lock him up for even longer. And it’s not a surprise that Bird is willing to put a max offer on the table — the 26-year-old is one of the league’s best two-way players, having earned multiple All-NBA and All-Defensive nods over the last few seasons.

He’s also coming off a perhaps his best year as a pro, returning from a broken leg – which cost him nearly all of his 2014/15 season – to set a new career-high in PPG (23.1), while matching previous career bests in APG (4.1) and SPG (1.9). For good measure, George threw in 7.0 RPG and connected on 37.1% of his three-point attempts, converting a career-best 2.6 per game.

In many instances, a player receiving a maximum-salary contract offer from his current team won’t hesitate to accept that deal. But in George’s case, there are several pros and cons worth considering, and we shouldn’t necessarily expect him to get something done with the Pacers as soon as he becomes eligible to sign a new deal this weekend. Let’s break them down…

Why George should sign an extension this fall:

George could get an immediate pay raise if he renegotiates and extends his deal with the Pacers, who should have the cap room necessary to bump his salary up to the max. That would mean an extra $3.8MM+ in 2016/17, with his salaries for the next two years jumping by about the same amount.

If George doesn’t ink an extension, he’ll be locked into his current deal until at least the summer of 2018, at which point he could opt out. In other words, the only way he could increase his salaries for the ’16/17 and ’17/18 league years is to sign a new deal with the Pacers.

In addition to securing some extra money in the short term, George would also position himself for a huge payday when his new extension runs out. The Pacers star currently has six years of NBA experience — if he extends his deal to the maximum allowable four years (adding one year to the three he already has left), it would set him up to reach free agency when he has 10 years of experience under his belt, making him eligible for the highest possible max salary (35% of the cap).

Finally, as someone who has already lost nearly a whole season to a significant leg injury, George is all too familiar with how one play can impact his career. He came back better than ever from that broken leg, but there’s no guarantee that he’d be able to do that again if he suffered another major injury. Renegotiating and extending his current contract would ensure that George adds another $40MM in guaranteed money to his deal for essentially tacking on one extra year. That’s a lot of extra security.

Why George should hold off on signing a new deal:

Unlike James Harden, who signed an extension with the Rockets this summer, George only has six years of NBA experience, rather than seven. That difference is significant. Players with six years of experience or less are only eligible for a maximum salary of $22,116,750 in 2016/17. Players with seven to nine years of experience can sign for up to $26,540,100, as Harden did.

While the single-year difference between those two amounts may not be huge, a player’s subsequent raises are based on that initial figure, so the disparity would affect each of the next four seasons of George’s deal. In other words, it might make more financial sense for him to wait until next July to sign an extension. At that point, he’d be eligible for a higher max and could potentially sign a deal like Russell Westbrook did this year, tacking on just one extra year, getting a raise, and still lining himself up to reach free agency after his 10th season.

Of course, signing any extension with the Pacers would push George’s potential free agency back at least one year, and perhaps that would be a drawback for him as well. He has given no indication that he wants to leave Indiana, but he has not yet had the opportunity to explore the open market since entering the NBA, and perhaps that’s something he wants to experience. Currently, he’s on track to have that chance in 2018, assuming he declines his 2018/19 player option. If George wants to see what’s out there, that’s another good reason not to sign an extension with the Pacers quite yet.

Other factors in play:

George isn’t the only Pacer who is eligible for a veteran extension. Newly-acquired point guard Jeff Teague is also extension-eligible this year, and if the Pacers give George a pay raise, they likely won’t have the space necessary for a new deal for Teague. Still, the team might not have room for a Teague extension anyway, and even if he wants to play with his new point guard for more than just one year, George shouldn’t let that affect his decision on an in-season extension. Indiana will still likely try to re-sign Teague next summer.

A more important factor to consider might be the looming opt-out date for the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NBA and the NBPA are expected to negotiate a new agreement, and while that new CBA likely won’t undergo many drastic changes affecting player earnings, it’s possible that a few tweaks will take place, which could affect George’s next deal. Will he want to lock in an extension before that CBA goes into effect, or will he want to roll the dice and wait it out?

Ultimately, the odds of the Pacers signing George to an extension soon will come down to what George wants. Does he want to stay in Indiana as long as possible or does he have interest in checking out the free agent market? Does he want a raise this year, or would he prefer to wait a year to try to maximize his earnings? Will he simply want to get something done sooner rather than later in order to preemptively shut down speculation about his future?

George will become eligible for a new deal on September 25, so it’s possible we’ll get answers to those questions soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacers To Offer Max Extension To Paul George

NBA players on veteran contracts can become eligible for an extension three years after signing their deals, and that date is right around the corner for Pacers forward Paul George. The three-time All-Star signed his current contract on September 25, 2013, meaning he’ll be extension-eligible as of this Sunday, and Pacers president Larry Bird won’t hesitate to offer his star a max deal, as he tells Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star.

“I know he don’t want to talk about it all year and I don’t either,” Bird said. “We want Paul here and we know what it’s going to cost and what it’s going to take. If Paul wants to get a deal done, we will. It’s a max deal. There’s no others, so there’s no use talking about it. If he wants it, he’s got it.”

While an extension on its own might not appeal to George, the Pacers should have the cap room necessary to renegotiate his deal in addition to extending it, as Bird notes. That means Indiana could increase George’s salaries to the maximum for the next three years, and then tack another max-salary year on for the 2019/20 league year. It would be an agreement similar to the one James Harden reached with the Rockets earlier this offseason.

On the other hand, signing an extension this year would prevent George from potentially exploring the free agent market in 2018, when he can opt out of his current contract. It would also lock him into a max salary for players with six years of NBA experience or less — if he waits one more year, he would get the max for players with seven to nine years of experience, which is worth 30% of the salary cap instead of 25%.

George’s new teammate, Jeff Teague, is also eligible for an extension as he enters the final year of his current contract, and Bird tells Taylor that he hopes to re-sign his new point guard beyond 2017 as well. For now though, his priority is George.

“We do whatever he wants to do,” Bird said of George. “He’s proven that he’s a max player. He’s our best player. If he wants a new contract, whenever he wants it, we’ll give it to him.”

We’ll take a more in-depth look on Thursday on George’s situation, and whether or not it makes sense for him to sign an extension this year.

Traded Second-Round Picks For 2017 NBA Draft

The 2017 NBA draft is still more than nine months away, but with the start of the regular season fast approaching, it’s worth taking stock of how this season’s results will affect next year’s draft. Depending on how certain teams perform during the 2016/17 campaign, other clubs will have the opportunity to pick up an extra selection or two.

Earlier this week, we looked at the first-round picks that could change hands during the 2017 draft. A few more first-rounders will likely be involved in trades prior to the trade deadline, or leading up to next year’s draft night, but there are already several picks that are ticketed for new teams, depending on where they land.

That’s even more true of the second round — more than half of the league’s second-round picks for 2017 have been involved in trades so far, and while some of those picks will ultimately remain with the sending teams due to protection conditions, many will move to the receiving teams.

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the second-round picks that could (or will) change hands. For each selection, we make a note of which team is sending and receiving it, the protection or conditions on the pick, and what will happen if the protection language prevents the pick from being conveyed. For instance, the Heat will send their second-rounder to either the Hawks or Grizzlies, depending on where it lands. The team that doesn’t get a pick from Miami this year will get the Heat’s second-rounder in 2018.

Here are 2017’s traded second-round picks:

Atlanta Hawks

  • From: Brooklyn Nets
  • Protection: None

Atlanta Hawks

  • From: Miami Heat
  • Protection: 31-40
  • If not conveyed: Hawks will receive Heat’s 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

Boston Celtics

  • From: Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Protection: None

Boston Celtics

  • From: Los Angeles Clippers
  • Protection: None

Boston Celtics

  • From: Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Protection: None

Brooklyn Nets

  • From: Boston Celtics
  • Conditions: Nets will receive pick (protected 31-45) if Celtics swap first-rounders with Nets.
  • If not conveyed: Celtics’ obligation to Nets is extinguished.

Brooklyn Nets

  • From: Indiana Pacers
  • Protection: 45-60
  • If not conveyed: Nets will have opportunity to get Pacers’ second-rounder (protected 45-60) in 2018.

Denver Nuggets

  • From: Memphis Grizzlies
  • Protection: 31-35
  • If not conveyed: Nuggets will receive Grizzlies’ 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

Denver Nuggets

  • From: Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Protection: 31-35
  • If not conveyed: Nuggets will receive Thunder’s 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

Houston Rockets

  • From: Denver Nuggets
  • Protection: None

Houston Rockets

  • From: Portland Trail Blazers
  • Protection: None

Memphis Grizzlies

  • From: Miami Heat
  • Protection: 41-60
  • If not conveyed: Grizzlies will receive Heat’s 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

New Orleans Pelicans

  • From: Philadelphia 76ers
  • Protection: None

New York Knicks

  • From: Chicago Bulls
  • Protection: None

New York Knicks

  • From: Houston Rockets
  • Protection: None

Philadelphia 76ers

  • From: Two of Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Utah Jazz.
  • Conditions: Sixers will receive the most and least favorable of these four picks.

Utah Jazz

  • From: Two of Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Utah Jazz.
  • Conditions: Jazz will receive the second- and third-most favorable of these four picks, including their own.

The following teams technically acquired second-round draft picks via trade and could receive those selections in 2017. However, these picks are heavily protected and won’t be conveyed to the receiving team unless the sending team finishes with a top-five record in the NBA. If that doesn’t happen, the receiving team is out of luck. The details:

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • From: New Orleans Pelicans
  • Protection: 31-55
  • If not conveyed: Pelicans’ obligation to Timberwolves is extinguished.

Orlando Magic

  • From: Sacramento Kings
  • Protection: 31-55
  • If not conveyed: Kings’ obligation to Magic is extinguished.

San Antonio Spurs

  • From: Atlanta Hawks
  • Protection: 31-55
  • If not conveyed: Hawks’ obligation to Spurs is extinguished.

RealGM’s database of future traded pick details was used in the creation of this post.

Atlantic Notes: Pleiss, Seraphin, Stackhouse, Green

German center Tibor Pleiss received an invitation to work out for the Nets, but seems likely to sign overseas, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. Pleiss is finalizing a deal with the Galatasaray team in Turkey. He will take the place of former NBA player Nenad Krstic, who has a lingering knee injury and is expected to retire (Twitter link). Pleiss was waived by the Sixers last week after being acquired in a trade with the Jazz. The 7’3″ center appeared in 12 games for Utah last season, but spent most of the year in the D-League.

There’s more news out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks were outbid in their attempt to re-sign reserve center Kevin Seraphin, according to Mark Berman of the New York Post. Seraphin agreed to join the Pacers last week and signed a two-year, $3.6MM contract on Thursday, with the second year as a team option. The deal starts at $2MM for next season, which topped the Knicks’ offer of $1.2MM, the minimum for a player who has been in the league for six years. It will still be a pay cut for Seraphin, who signed for the $2.8MM cap exception last season. The Knicks were hoping to keep Seraphin, who averaged 3.9 points in 48 games in 2015/16, as a backup to Joakim Noah. Berman expects Kyle O’Quinn to get a larger role with Seraphin’s departure, with Willy Hernangomez, Marshall Plumlee and Maurice Ndour as other options.
  • Jerry Stackhouse sees his new job as coach of Toronto’s D-League affiliate as the next step toward becoming an NBA head coach, writes Chris O’Leary of The Toronto Star. Stackhouse was named to the position Friday after spending last season as an assistant with the Raptors. With 18 years as an NBA player, Stackhouse hopes to use that experience to help some of the players with Raptors 905. “I spent just about as much of my life on the struggle that you’re watching some of these [D-League players] … making whatever they make, 25, 30 grand, but it’s a destination,” he said. “It’s where you want to get, it’s the sacrifices you have to make. I’m excited about it, I really am.”
  • The return of Gerald Green will give the Celtics a prolific scorer off the bench, writes Taylor C. Snow of NBA.com. In a look at Boston’s wing players, Snow notes that Green, who left the Heat for the Celtics this summer, can score the ball in a variety of ways.

Allen Beat The Odds As A Late Draft Pick

  • Lavoy Allen has beaten the odds by carving out a career as a late second-round pick, writes Jake Rauchbach of Basketball Insiders. After being selected 50th overall by the Sixers in 2011, the 6’9″ power forward/center has become a rotation player, first in Philadelphia and now in Indiana. Allen will make $4MM this season, and the Pacers have a team option for $4.3MM in 2017/18.

Nick Zeisloft's Contract Includes 25K Guarantee

  • Nick Zeisloft’s training camp deal with the Pacers includes a $25K guarantee, league sources told Scott Agness of VigilantSports.com. Zeisloft’s one-year, rookie minimum contract allows the Pacers to retain his rights for D-League purposes, Agness adds. The signing of the 6’4” shooting guard was somewhat surprising, considering he only averaged 6.5 points with the Indiana Hoosiers last season and wasn’t on the Pacers’ summer league teams.

NBA Teams With Full Rosters

While NBA teams are limited to carrying 15 players on their regular-season rosters (with a few exceptions), roster limits expand to 20 players during the offseason. The five extra roster slots allow clubs to bring in veterans hopeful of earning a place on the regular-season roster, or young players who may eventually be ticketed for D-League assignments.

Most teams will fill up their 20-man rosters for training camp, but at this point in the NBA offseason, it can be difficult to determine which clubs still have room on their rosters. Many potential camp invitees have reportedly reached agreements with teams, but those signings haven’t yet been officially announced.

By our count, there are currently just two team at the 20-man offseason roster limit. One is the 76ers, who were at the 20-man limit for much of the offseason before waiving Carl Landry and Tibor Pleiss. Since then, they’ve added Elton Brand and Cat Barber, though it appears only 11 of the club’s 20 players have fully guaranteed salaries for 2016/17.

Meanwhile, on their official website, the Nuggets list 14 players who have guaranteed contracts, plus Axel Toupane, JaKarr Sampson, and D.J. Kennedy, who are on non-guaranteed or partially-guaranteed deals. In addition to those 17 players, the team has also reportedly reached agreements with Nate Wolters, Robbie Hummel, and Jarnell Stokes, bringing Denver’s total roster count to 20.

Still, not all of Denver’s signings are official, and even once they are, the Nuggets could easily make room for another player by cutting a non-guaranteed salary from their books. The same can be said for Philadelphia. While their rosters may technically be “full,” it’s not as if the Nuggets and the Sixers don’t have the flexibility to replace a camp invitee with a veteran free agent, if they so choose.

A more productive way of determining which teams’ rosters are “full” at this point in the offseason might be to examine the number of guaranteed salaries on their books. The deadline for teams to stretch the 2016/17 salary of a waived player is now behind us, so any team that cuts a player with a guaranteed salary won’t be able to reduce that cap hit unless the player agrees to a buyout. Most teams are reluctant to add much dead money to their cap with such a move, so if a club has 15 guaranteed contracts on its cap, we can assume its regular-season roster is fairly set, barring a trade or a surprise cut.

Here are the NBA teams that currently have 15 (or more) guaranteed salaries on their roster:

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Pacers Sign Kevin Seraphin

SEPTEMBER 8: The Pacers have formally issued a press release announcing their deal with Seraphin. Within the release, Indiana also officially confirmed the previously-reported signing of Nick Zeisloft.Kevin Seraphin vertical

SEPTEMBER 2: Kevin Seraphin will join the Pacers on a two-year, $3.6MM contract, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical. The deal includes a team option for the second season, sources tell Charania.

Seraphin held workouts for Indiana officials Monday and Tuesday, and the agreement was finalized late Thursday night. The 6’10” center/power forward is expected to sign it sometime next week.

After five years with the Wizards, Seraphin spent last season with the Knicks, averaging 3.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per night in 48 games. The Pacers will count on him to provide depth in the front court behind Myles Turner and free agent addition Al Jefferson.

The signing of Seraphin gives Indiana 16 players with guaranteed contracts heading into training camp.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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