On a Tuesday appearance on 107.5 The Fan, ESPN’s Bobby Marks detailed a couple ways the Pacers can create enough cap space to sign Suns center Deandre Ayton, the top restricted free agent on the market, to a maximum-salary offer sheet. Indiana is currently about $26.4MM under the cap, but needs to get to $31MM to sign Ayton to a max deal.
“You’d have to waive a (non-guaranteed) player like Duane Washington Jr. and then you’d have to either make a trade or you would have to use the waive and stretch provision on a couple players, maybe the couple players you got in the Celtics trade,” Marks said, per James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. “The challenge becomes if Phoenix matches (an offer sheet for Ayton), you can’t go back and take back those waivers. So you run the risk of losing three players to waivers on an offer sheet that likely would get matched.”
Marks believes the Suns would match the deal so they wouldn’t lose Ayton for nothing, even though he wouldn’t be trade-eligible for several months. As Boyd details, the three players Marks was referring to that came from the Celtics are Juwan Morgan, Nik Stauskas and Malik Fitts.
Boyd says Goga Bitadze might be a player the Pacers could deal away to give Ayton the offer sheet — Bitadze will make $4.765MM next season. However, as Boyd points out, the Pacers haven’t signed a restricted free agent to an offer sheet since 2013, and it was a very modest deal, relatively, for Chris Copeland.
A more viable alternative for Indiana to land Ayton might be a sign-and-trade for Myles Turner, which has been the subject of multiple rumors, but Marks wondered if Turner alone would be enough for Phoenix.
Here’s more from the Central Division:
- Aaron Nesmith, another player in the trade with Boston that sent Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics, said he was “completely caught off guard” when he heard the news, but the Pacers had their eye on him for a while and he’ll get a bigger opportunity with Indiana, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Indiana’s brass told Nesmith to focus on honing a specific skill set. “To play free, be a good 3-and-D guy and I could be a top-notch 3-and-D guy in this league, so that’s the focus,” Nesmith said, per Agness. “That’s what we’re going to work for and that’s what I’m going to become.”
- The Pacers announced that they’re withholding first-rounder Bennedict Mathurin for the remainder of Las Vegas Summer League due to a sore left big toe. He was the No. 6 pick of last month’s draft. Second-year players Terry Taylor and Isaiah Jackson will also be out. Summer League ends on July 17, so I’m sure it’s just for precautionary reasons.
- Jaden Ivey, the No. 5 pick of the draft, showed the Pistons flashes of his enormous upside in his brief Summer League action before suffering a sprained ankle, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Cade Cunningham, Detroit’s No. 1 overall pick last year, said on a recent NBA TV appearance that he was looking forward to playing with his new backcourt partner. “Definitely excited to play with him,” Cunningham said. “He’s so talented, brings so much to the team. Just the way he plays the game, trying to play the right way, trying to play for his teammates, spread the ball. It’s all exciting. Being able to take the court with him is exciting and it’s coming soon. I’m excited, man.”