Domantas Sabonis

Eastern Notes: Sabonis, Brown, Zizic, Hutchison, Morris, Rose

The Hawks were interested in making runs next summer at Pacers power forward Domantas Sabonis and Celtics forward Jaylen Brown if they had become restricted free agents, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. Atlanta is one of four teams, along with Charlotte, Cleveland and Memphis, that will have significant cap space in the offseason and thus could have put together a big offer sheet for either player. Sabonis signed a four-year, $74.9MM extension with the Pacers while Brown inked a four-year, $115MM deal with Boston.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • There’s a strong possibility the Cavaliers will try to bring back center Ante Zizic next summer even though they declined their fourth-year option on him, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The Cavs can only offer Zizic a max of $3.87MM as a starting salary after declining the option. Zizic has been sidelined since the preseason with a foot injury.
  • Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison had hoped to return to action on Friday but he’ll be sidelined a little longer, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays. Hutchison has yet to play this season due to a hamstring injury. “Hutch is still working his way through. Don’t have anything new to report on that. We’ll see how that plays out,” coach Jim Boylen said. Hutchison spent the week practicing with their G League affiliate and pronounced himself ready to go on Thursday, the Windy City Bulls, Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago notes.
  • Knicks forward Marcus Morris was disappointed the Celtics didn’t show interest in re-signing him during free agency, Jay King of The Athletic reports. Morris wound up in New York on a one-year deal after backing out on a verbal agreement with San Antonio. “I thought it was a great possibility of me coming back here,” Morris said. “So, by me not even getting that opportunity or getting that chance to have that, I refuse to do anything with Boston.”
  • Derrick Rose signed a two-year, $15MM contract with the Pistons and he’s thrilled with his choice, Keith Langlois of the team’s website writes. Rose has gotten off to a strong start and he’s happy with the organization. “I feel great,” he said. “Even making the decision to come here. Every day that we’re in Detroit, my family is happy being there. I’m happy being there. You hear things from afar, you don’t know what to expect. But everything’s been up and up.”

Pacers Notes: Sabonis, Warren, Offense

Trade rumors swirled around Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis last Friday, when it seemed as if he and the team might not find common ground on a long-term rookie scale extension by Monday’s deadline. However, the two sides struck an 11th-hour deal on Monday.

That was always the preferred outcome for the Pacers, according to general manager Chad Buchanan, who said this week that the club was simply doing its due diligence to prepare for every scenario when it gauged the trade market for Sabonis.

“There’s talk going on between all 30 teams constantly, 12 months out of the league,” Buchanan said, per J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. “It was never our intention to trade Domas. It was an absolute last resort, something he didn’t want, we didn’t want. I know that came out as a possibility but that was never our intention. Never even a remote possibility for us. An absolute last case, worst-case scenario.”

As Scott Agness of The Athletic writes, the Pacers’ long-term commitment to Sabonis is just the latest signal of how much the team likes the 23-year-old. That fondness for Sabonis dates back to the 2016 draft, when the club tried to move up from No. 20 to select him, per Agness.

That attempt failed, and Indiana ultimately traded that No. 20 pick for Thaddeus Young, but the club later found a way to land Sabonis anyway in the Paul George blockbuster with Oklahoma City.

Here’s more on Sabonis and the Pacers:

  • J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star digs into what the Sabonis extension means for the Pacers and the big man, while Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link) provides some details on the incentives in the deal. Sabonis can earn $2.6MM in annual bonuses (up to $10.4MM over four years), according to Bontemps, who notes that there’s $1.3MM available each season for an All-Star berth and $1.3MM available for an All-NBA nod.
  • Mark Montieth of Pacers.com explains why T.J. Warren, acquired from the Suns in the summer, seems meant to be a Pacer — and why ex-Pacer David West believes the forward can be an All-Star.
  • With four newcomers in their starting lineup, the Pacers looked somewhat disjointed on offense in their opening-night loss to Detroit, writes Scott Agness of The Athletic. Of course, having Victor Oladipo back in the mix would help in terms of continuity and offensive firepower, but the star guard is confident in his team’s ability to figure things out even before he returns. “We could be a special team,” Oladipo said. “Like I’ve told them and like I’ve told our guys is we’ve just got to be patient. We are a new group. It might us take a little bit of time if it’s rough in the beginning to get our stride and get used to each other. That’s a part of the process. We just can’t get down on ourselves. We have to remain positive and continue to believe in one another.”
  • Speaking of the Pacers’ roster turnover, that was one of the points of emphasis in our review of their offseason.

Northwest Notes: Beasley, Hernangomez, Teague, Hall

Prior to Monday’s rookie scale contract extension deadline, the Nuggets aggressively pursued deals for Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, while all sides made an effort in those discussions, neither Beasley nor Hernangomez signed a new contract on Monday.

As we noted this afternoon in our recap of this year’s rookie scale extension activity, Beasley and Hernangomez are two of the extension-eligible players who are now on track for restricted free agency next summer. It will be particularly interesting to see how things play out for Beasley, who reportedly turned down a three-year, $30MM offer from the Nuggets earlier in the offseason. If he repeats or improves upon last year’s numbers, he could be one of the best young players available on the 2020 market.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague, who was bothered by a nagging left ankle injury for much of last season, underwent a procedure in April to address that injury. Asked whether he feels fully healthy heading into the season, Teague offered the following assessment, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune: “I feel OK. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100 percent, but I feel OK.”
  • Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis isn’t going anywhere for the time being after signing a new four-year extension, but Darren Wolfson of SKOR North notes (via Twitter) that the Timberwolves talked to Indiana about Sabonis in June. It’s unclear if the Wolves attempted to re-engage last week when the Pacers briefly explored the market for Sabonis.
  • After spending his first professional season as a “draft-and-stash” prospect, 2018 second-rounder Devon Hall may have an opportunity to contribute to the Thunder in 2019/20. Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman takes a closer look at what’s on tap this season for Hall, one of the club’s two-way players.

Pacers Sign Domantas Sabonis To Four-Year Extension

5:13pm: The Pacers have officially signed Sabonis to his new extension, the team confirmed in a press release.

“I’m very excited to remain with the Pacers, this is where I wanted to be,” Sabonis said in a statement. “I appreciate the organization showing their confidence in me; and I’m ready to be part of what’s going to be a great year for our team.”

3:10pm: The parade of rookie scale extensions continues on deadline day, with Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis the latest player to agree to a new long-term deal, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania, Sabonis’ new four-year extension with Indiana is worth $74.9MM (Twitter link). ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links) has the value at $77MM in guaranteed money over four years, adding that the deal could be worth up to $85MM with incentives. Sabonis’ new contract, which goes into effect in 2020/21, won’t feature any team or player options, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic.

It has been a wild few days for the Pacers and Sabonis, with a report on Friday night suggesting that the two sides were far apart in contract negotiations, prompting the team to explore the trade market in search of a possible deal. Indiana’s asking price was said to be “too high,” so it doesn’t appear as the club ever came close to actually moving the 23-year-old.

Still, it didn’t sound as if Sabonis and the Pacers were in a great place over the weekend. Asked about the situation on Saturday, the Lithuanian replied, “I know exactly how the Pacers feel about me now,” an apparent reference to those trade rumors. Given today’s news, that comment could have a very different meaning now, as the Pacers were willing to invest even more heavily in Sabonis than they did a year ago in Myles Turner, who received a four-year, $72MM deal.

Both Sabonis and Turner should be very movable on their new long-term contracts, so that’s still a path the Pacers could eventually explore. For now though, the plan is to play the two big men alongside one another in the starting lineup. That approach had mixed results last season, but the Pacers are invested in committing more time and energy to making it work.

Sabonis, 23, only started five games last season after making 85 starts in his first two seasons, but he still enjoyed his best season as a pro, averaging 14.1 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and 2.9 APG in just 24.8 minutes per contest.

He and Turner, along with newly-acquired guard Malcolm Brogdon, will be tasked with helping the Pacers get off to a good start this season while their MVP – Victor Oladipo – remains on the shelf due to a quad injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Knicks, Sabonis, Hachimura, Johnson, Henson

Knicks management was “stunned and depressed” that marquee free agents Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant chose the Nets, a team source told Frank Isola of The Athletic. The Knicks have tried to convince outsiders they didn’t want meetings with them or another top free agent, Kawhi Leonard, but in actuality they desperately wanted those big-ticket free agents, Isola continues. However, it may work out for them in the long run considering Durant’s Achilles injury and Irving’s injury history, Isola adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • It makes sense for the Pacers to move Domantas Sabonis if he doesn’t mesh well with Myles Turner in the Pacers’ starting lineup, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic opines. Indiana is reportedly shopping Sabonis because extension talks have gone nowhere. The team should see if they can play together but if it doesn’t work, there’s no need to tie up a chunk of the team’s cap space on two centers, Vecenie continues, especially since it drafted another center in June.
  • Sabonis expressed his disappointment about the extension negotiations and subsequent trade rumors on Saturday, Forbes’ Tony East tweets. “Theres not really much to talk about. I know exactly how the Pacers feel about me now,” Sabonis said. “They know how I feel about that. There’s not much more to say. I’ll let my agents do the rest of it, we’ll see what happens.”
  • Wizards first-round selection Rui Hachimura is likely to be in the starting lineup for the season opener, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets. Coach Scott Brooks said he was “leaning the way.” Hachimura averaged 10.3 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 21.9 MPG during the preseason.
  • Heat forward James Johnson believes he’ll suit up for the opener, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Johnson has returned for workouts after a team-imposed suspension when he failed to meet their conditioning standards. Johnson said he just needs to get his body fat percentage down a little more. “You know, body fat takes a long time to drop. So I’m just waiting for that to get down,” he said. “I know my numbers. My weight is good, my conditioning is good, I’m just waiting for my numbers to drop.”
  • Center John Henson‘s injury woes have continually frustrated the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Henson has been sidelined most of the preseason with groin and ankle injuries. A wrist injury that required surgery made last season a virtual washout for the former Bucks big man. Coach John Beilein was hoping Henson could challenge for a rotation or even starting spot. ““I’ve seen him so limited this year because he’s basically been injured almost every day that I’ve known him,” Beilein said.

Marks’ Latest: Sabonis, Rockets, Grizzlies, Nets

If the Pacers and Domantas Sabonis are able to bridge the gap in contract negotiations and finalize an extension for the big man by Monday’s deadline, count on it being worth more than the four-year, $72MM deal Myles Turner signed a year ago, says ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link). Sources tell Marks that the terms Turner received on his rookie scale extension are considered a “non-starter” when it comes to Sabonis’ next deal.

As we relayed on Friday night, a report from The Athletic indicated that the Pacers are exploring trade options involving Sabonis, since the two sides remain far apart in extension talks. However, Indiana’s asking price in those trade discussions reportedly remains too high so far.

Here are a few more items of interest from Marks:

  • Marks suggests that the Rockets will likely apply for a disabled player exception for Gerald Green, who is expected to miss the entire season with a broken foot. However, because Green is on a minimum-salary deal, that DPE – if granted – would only be worth about $810K.
  • Ivan Rabb‘s 2019/20 salary will become fully guaranteed if he’s not waived today, so the Grizzlies have a decision to make. The team has 17 candidates for its regular-season roster with only 15 spots available, so veterans like Rabb and/or Miles Plumlee could be released, Marks notes.
  • Expect the Nets to be “at the front of the line” if Alfonzo McKinnie goes unclaimed on waivers, according to Marks, who points out that the forward would be a good fit for Brooklyn’s open two-way contract slot or to replace Wilson Chandler when the veteran goes on the suspended list.
  • Marks believes Hornets second-round pick Jalen McDaniels is a good candidate to be converted into a two-way contract or to agree to a longer-term deal than the one-year pact he signed last week.

Pacers Seeking Trade Partner For Sabonis

The Pacers are in active trade talks regarding big man Domantas Sabonis, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports.

Indiana has engaged Sabonis in extension talks but the two parties are far apart, convincing the front office to explore the trade market for the fourth-year forward. The Pacers are in negotiations with several teams regarding Sabonis, who averaged 14.1 PPG,  9.3 RPG and 2.9 APG last season. The Pacers’ asking price in talks has been too high, according to Amick’s sources.

Sabonis is making just $3.5MM this season and would become a restricted free agent next summer if no extension agreement is reached by Monday’s deadline.

The Pacers have some long-term salary cap concerns. They have a handful of players signed through at least the 2020/21 season making $10MM or more. Center Myles Turner received a four-year, $72MM extension before the end of last year’s training camp. Turner and Sabonis are expected to play together in the starting lineup despite concerns their skills might overlap.

The Pacers also added guard Malcolm Brogdon on a four-year, $85MM contract in a sign-and-trade with Milwaukee and handed Jeremy Lamb a three-year, $31.5MM deal in free agency.

Pacers Notes: Culture, Bitadze, Sabonis, Lemon

Pacers players are eager to praise the culture in Indiana, with Malcolm Brogdon referring to the front office as a “very transparent group,” while Victor Oladipo calls president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and GM Chad Buchanan “very interactive,” per Jonathan Abrams of Bleacher Report. As Abrams details, the Pacers’ decision-makers believe in open communication with their players and have promised to inform those players if they’re engaged in any serious trade talks involving them.

“There’s a little bit of quid pro quo, because if we do that and then the trade doesn’t go through, guys can check out,” Pritchard said. “When we say it’s at the five-yard line, you’re going to hear it from us. But if it doesn’t work out, you still have to have both feet in on the Pacers.

Pritchard and Buchanan told Abrams that they had conversations with Al Jefferson and Darren Collison in recent years about deals that nearly came to fruition, though neither trade ultimately happened.

“Their agents probably appreciate it as much as the player, [but] there’s downsides to it,” Pritchard said. “There’s no doubt there’s potential downsides. But I think there’s an upside in that if you come here, that you’re going to be told the truth.”

Abrams’ piece is a good read that’s worth checking out in full, particularly for Pacers fans. Here’s more out of Indiana:

  • Speaking to Abrams, Pritchard pushed back against the idea that the Pacers drafted big man Goga Bitadze in June with an eye toward trading him. “A lot of people thought we did that with Goga. I still don’t understand that,” Pritchard said. “… We felt like Goga was the best player on the board. In the draft, you don’t want to hit a single. If you’re hitting a single in the draft and keep hitting singles in the draft, you’re going to be average at best in a low-revenue market. Big-revenue market, it’s still important, but not quite as.”
  • Domantas Sabonis is “known to be in active talks” with the Pacers about a possible rookie scale extension, writes Marc Stein of The New York Times. If the two sides don’t finalize a deal by 5:00pm CT on October 21, Sabonis will become a restricted free agent next summer.
  • After signing Walt Lemon Jr. last week, the Pacers acquired the guard’s G League rights today, according to a press release from the Fort Wayne Ants, Indiana’s NBAGL affiliate. Lemon appears likely to be waived by the Pacers in the next few days and then report to Fort Wayne.

Woj’s Latest: Beal, CP3, Lowry, Iguodala, Siakam

In a televised preseason special on Thursday night (audio link), ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe identified Bradley Beal as a player worth watching closely this season. Beal looks like the most obvious candidate of the NBA’s stars to become disgruntled and push for a trade during the 2019/20 season. However, as Wojnarowski notes, that hasn’t happened yet, and the Wizards are still all-in on trying to retain their All-Star guard.

“Bradley Beal’s got two years left on his deal and the Wizards have not given up hope of signing him to an extension,” Wojnarowski said. “They’ve had a three-year, $111MM-or-so extension on the table for him to take in any form. Does he want two years, three years? Any form he wants, it is there waiting for him. So they are nowhere near the idea of moving Bradley Beal. They want to continue to try to rebuild around him.”

[RELATED: Why Bradley Beal won’t immediately accept Wizards’ extension offer]

As Woj and Lowe point out, a weak 2020 free agent class would make Beal an especially valuable trade chip if the Wizards’ stance changes, but there’s no indication that will happen anytime soon.

“Bradley Beal, if he got on the market, would bring back an absolute ransom because if you want to improve your team in a dramatic way, he’d be the guy,” Woj said. “But Washington’s not doing that. They still want to re-sign him.”

Here are a few more highlights from ESPN’s special featuring two of the network’s top basketball reporters:

  • The Thunder‘s plan when they acquired Chris Paul from Houston was to flip him to another team, according to Wojnarowski, who says OKC had hoped the Heat would be more open to making a deal. “He’s going to have to play really well in Oklahoma City for somebody to want to take on three years, $124MM [and] pay him $44MM in the final year of his contract,” Woj said of CP3. “That’s a really difficult proposition. … He has value in the league, but not at those numbers.”
  • Woj and Lowe think Raptors guard Kyle Lowry would generate a lot of interest on the trade market if Toronto becomes open to moving him. Both ESPN experts believe that Lowry’s one-year, $31MM extension actually makes him more appealing as a trade chip, since he wouldn’t be just a half-season rental. Lowe speculates that teams like the Heat, Pistons, and Clippers might have interest, while Woj singles out the Timberwolves as another potential fit.
  • According to Wojnarowski, both the Grizzlies and Andre Iguodala are willing to be patient when it comes to a potential trade or buyout. Woj likens Iguodala to MLB pitcher Roger Clemens, who often signed late in the season during the final few years of his career. “Iguodala’s fine with seeing what the landscape looks like and then jumping in on the season a little later,” Woj said. “Because you’re signing Andre Iguodala – or trading for him – for the postseason.” Woj added that the Lakers and Clippers would be the favorites to land the former Finals MVP if he’s bought out.
  • In a discussion on this year’s extension candidates (video link), Wojnarowski suggests that Raptors forward Pascal Siakam would be a lock for a maximum-salary offer sheet if he reaches restricted free agency next summer. Woj believes Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield would get a similar offer and that Jaylen Brown (Celtics) and Domantas Sabonis (Pacers) would do very well too, given the lack of veteran stars expected to hit the free agent market.

World Cup Updates: Lithuania, Joseph, Nigeria, France

The Lithuanian national team has announced its roster for the 2019 World Cup, according to Donatas Urbonas, who tweets that the 12-man squad will include Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas and Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis in the frontcourt. Former Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas is also on the roster.

Lithuania is viewed as a contender to make a deep run in this year’s tournament, but it won’t have an easy path to even make it out of the first round. The Lithuanian national team is part of a group that also includes Australia, Canada, and Senegal — only two of those clubs will advance to the round of 16.

Here’s more on the 2019 World Cup, which will tip off in just four days in China: