Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Thursday that the team’s plan all along has been to keep Rodney Stuckey for the long term, and the 28-year-old combo guard is enthusiastic about returning to Indiana next season, reports Mark Montieth of Pacers.com. Stuckey signed a one-year deal for the minimum salary with the Pacers this past summer.
“I love it here, man,” Stuckey said. “I’m staying in the city, close to everything. I love it here. My family loves it here. I love the people in this organization. Definitely, I want to come back. That’s a no-brainer. Having a guy like Paul George here, of course I want to come play with an All-Star. Who doesn’t? Definitely want to be back here.”
The eighth-year veteran started 36 games for the Pacers this season but lately, he’s embraced a sixth-man role as Indiana has won seven in a row. Stuckey is pouring in a career-best 39.8% of his three-point attempts, and his 13.1 points and 26.6 minutes per game are close to his career averages.
Montieth speculates that Stuckey is in line for a raise, but the Pacers only have his Non-Bird rights, meaning they’d have to use another exception or open cap space to pay him more than 120% of the minimum salary he’s making this season. Indiana has only about $36MM in guaranteed salary on the books against a projected $68MM salary cap for next season, but that figure for the Pacers doesn’t include a total of more than $28MM in player options for Roy Hibbert and David West. If they opt in, it’ll be difficult for the Pacers to dip below the cap, so it would seem the biannual and mid-level exceptions are the team’s likeliest avenues for giving Stuckey a significant raise.
Stuckey is in his first pro season away from the Pistons, who drafted him 15th overall in 2007, but he harbors resentment about his parting from the team, as Montieth details. Stuckey believes someone in the Pistons organization was spreading the idea that he was a poor teammate, had character problems and wouldn’t be a fit on a winning team, according to Montieth. No team offered him more than the minimum last summer, Montieth writes, linking the dearth of more lucrative offers to the defamation that Stuckey alleges.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Stuckey said. “I’m not going to say names, but I know who it was. It’s just unfortunate for that person to throw me under the bus.”