Domantas Sabonis

Pacers Rumors: Oladipo, Turner, Sabonis, Draft

A report earlier this month indicated that teams around the NBA are expected to monitor Victor Oladipo, who will be entering a contract year in 2020/21 and hadn’t fully hit his stride with the new-look Pacers since returning from a major leg injury.

However, a league source tells J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star that Oladipo isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to that source, the Pacers have no plans to shop the two-time All-Star on the trade market during the 2020 offseason, and intend to focus on locking him up to a new deal beyond 2021. Oladipo’s name hasn’t come up in any trade talks to date, two sources told Michael.

As previous reports have indicated, Oladipo and the Pacers briefly discussed an extension before the 2019/20 season began, but he only could have added three new years at that point and wouldn’t have been eligible to increase his salary to the league max.

Oladipo decided at that point to wait on negotiating a new contract and will likely take the same approach during the 2020 offseason, according to Michael, who notes that Oladipo could maximize his potential earnings by waiting until his contract expires in 2021 to sign a new one. At that point, he’d be eligible for up to five years if he re-signs with Indiana.

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • Despite a long-standing belief among outside observers that Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner aren’t compatible, there was no indication at the trade deadline that the Pacers planned to move either player, according to Michael. Still, the club remains in the market for a power forward, Michael adds.
  • Turner drew some interest around the NBA prior to the deadline, particularly from the Wizards, according to Michael. One source tells the Indy Star that Washington was only inquiring about the big man for future reference, but another source told the Star that a “key player” from the Wizards sat down with someone close to Turner to directly express interest. According to Michael, Turner’s camp didn’t take those inquiries too seriously because they were aware Indiana wasn’t looking to move the 24-year-old.
  • The Pacers weren’t interested in adding 2020 draft picks in pre-deadline deals, since they’re “not enamored by” the 2020 draft class and are in win-now mode, says Michael.
  • Michael adds that “for the foreseeable future, no one is going anywhere,” since the Pacers like their roster.

Pacers Notes: Oladipo, Sabonis, Lamb, Practices

Pacers star Victor Oladipo downplayed his shooting struggles against the Bulls on Wednesday and Knicks on Saturday, with the 27-year-old still working to regain his rhythm and get back into the swing of things, as relayed by J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star.

Oladipo, who missed the past 12 months after suffering a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee, shot 2-of-8 against Chicago and 2-of-14 against New York. He appeared in limited time during both of those games (21 minutes and 22 minutes), coming off the bench in both stints.

“We’re still trying to figure each other out,” Oladipo said. “Obviously I’m still trying to get my rhythm. I’ve been out a year. Coming off the bench and obviously playing limited minutes is new, so I got to get used to that. I got to get used to the flow of the game again, we have to get used to each other again. 

“Obviously we won last game [against Chicago]. We made big shots in order to win, but unfortunately tonight [against New York] we couldn’t do that. We just can’t overreact. Everybody else might, obviously, but that’s just how everybody else is. We just got to stay even-keeled and get ready for the Mavs on Monday.”

During his last full season before the injury, Oladipo averaged a career-best 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals per contest in 75 games in 2017/18. He was averaging 18.8 points and 5.6 rebounds through 36 games last season, remaining the team’s best player on the offensive end.

Here are some other notes out of Indiana tonight:

  • Domantas Sabonis has taken an impressive path since joining the team, climbing the ranks from a bench player to a starter (and now an NBA All-Star), Mark Montieth of Pacers.com writes. Sabonis was selected to his first All-Star team last month, holding season-averages of 18.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
  • Oladipo will help establish the Pacers as one of the beasts of the East, giving other top-tier teams a run for their money as the postseason nears, writes David Aldridge of The Athletic. Players such as Jeremy Lamb will have to sacrifice minutes for Oladipo, a two-time All-Star, with Indiana eventually expected to sport a starting lineup of Malcolm Brogdon, Oladipo, T.J. Warren, Myles Turner and Sabonis.
  • Indiana is emphasizing a lighter practice schedule going forward as multiple players work to come back from injuries, J. Michael writes for the Indianapolis Star. Instead, the Pacers will focus on recovery and film study.

Pacers Notes: Brogdon, Sabonis, Oladipo, Warren

Malcolm Brogdon has taken on the closer’s role in his first season with the Pacers, at least until Victor Oladipo returns, writes Scott Agness of The Athletic. In training camp, it wasn’t clear who might get that designation with nine new players on the roster, but Brogdon, who was acquired from the Bucks in a sign-and-trade, feels comfortable making decisions that will win or lose games.

“It’s a privilege,” he said. “Being the closer, sometimes it’s about making the last shot, but sometimes it’s about making the right play, making the right pass. My teammates, this organization, my coach — they trust me with the ball, and I’m going to continue to make good decisions.”

Indiana is using Brogdon as a full-time point guard, Agness adds, instead of a floor spacer like he was in Milwaukee. As a result, he has eight double-doubles this season after just three in his first three years in the NBA.

“I was hoping for it,” he said of the point guard duties. “Especially with Vic being out, I was hoping I could be that guy, but I knew I had to prove myself. And now that I’ve proven myself, Coach and my teammates allow me to do that and empower me to do that.”

There’s more from Indiana:

  • Doctors don’t believe Domantas Sabonis is risking further injury by playing with a bone bruise in his left knee, Agness relays in a separate story. After he was checked by the team doctor, his representatives had two other specialists examine the knee before any decision was made. “There’s swelling in the bone that all doctors say can’t get worse unless you get hit in that same spot,” he said. “It’s the same thing if I get hit in my healthy knee. There’s the same chance. It’s not a muscle or anything, so by doing more stuff, you can’t technically get it worse.”
  • Oladipo remained in Indiana as the team left for a nine-day road trip, Agness adds in the same piece. He plans to practice with the team’s G League affiliate as he prepares for his season debut January 29.
  • Picking up T.J. Warren in an offseason trade with the Suns has provided a boost for the Pacers’ offense, observes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. Warren is averaging 18.1 PPG and his versatility has made the team more difficult to defend. “He can score any way possible,” Jeremy Lamb said. “Off the dribble. Catch and shoot. Floaters. Threes. Pull-ups. Post-ups. However you want it, he’ll give it to you.”

Pacers Notes: Holiday, McConnell, Turner, Warren

More than one rival executive believes the Pacers will be open to trading either Aaron Holiday or T.J. McConnell before this year’s deadline, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

For now, both Holiday and McConnell are regular parts of the club’s rotation, combining for a total of 42.8 minutes per game. However, once Victor Oladipo returns to the lineup later this month, that extra backcourt depth may be a luxury the Pacers can afford to give up if they get an offer they like, Pincus suggests.

Both Holiday and McConnell are on team-friendly contracts. Holiday is making $2.24MM in the second year of his rookie deal and won’t be eligible for restricted free agency until 2022, while McConnell is earning $3.5MM and has an identical non-guaranteed cap hit for next season. Holiday’s age (23) makes him a more valuable asset than the 27-year-old McConnell, so if the Pacers do consider moving one of those two guards, the price would be higher for Holiday.

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • The Pacers have played well with both Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner on the court this season, recording a +6.4 net rating, and sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe that Indiana continues to turn away teams that inquire on Turner.
  • Still, Lowe points out that Turner averages just nine shots per 36 minutes alongside Sabonis, compared to 16 per 36 minutes when Sabonis sits. Now that the team “belongs” to Malcolm Brogdon, Sabonis, and Oladipo, Lowe questions whether Turner will be content going forward with his part-time role, and suggests that every team in need of a big man should keep an eye on the situation in Indiana.
  • The NBA has fined Pacers wing T.J. Warren $25K and Heat swingman Jimmy Butler $35K for their altercation during Wednesday’s game, the league announced in a press release. Butler received the higher penalty in part for “escalating the incident on social media” after the game, the NBA said in its statement.

Trade Rumors: Iguodala, Clippers, Suns, Pacers

As we’ve heard all season long, the Grizzlies remain confident that they can trade Andre Iguodala and won’t need to buy him out of his contract, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

“We will trade him, period,” A Grizzlies executive told Pincus. “We’ve gone far enough into the structure of deals with more than one team to say that [confidently].”

Marc Stein of The New York Times reported last month that Dallas isn’t expected to pursue Iguodala, but multiple executives still view the Mavericks as the best potential trade partner for Memphis, according to Pincus. One Western Conference executive speculated that the leak to Stein was “posturing,” suggesting that the Mavs and Grizzlies may be haggling over the Warriors’ 2020 second-rounder that Dallas holds.

Pincus shared a few more trade rumors and tidbits from around the NBA, so let’s round up the highlights…

  • Aron Baynes is believed to be on the Clippers‘ radar, and Pincus notes that Sam Vecenie of The Athletic recently suggested a Baynes/Ivica Zubac swap between the Suns and Clips. It’s unclear if the two sides have actually discussed such a deal or if it would interest either club, but Pincus suggests that Baynes would be a better complement to Montrezl Harrell.
  • Speaking of Harrell, the Clippers have had internal discussions about his future, but have yet to make any decisions on that front, per Pincus. Harrell will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
  • If the Suns remain in the playoff hunt, they’re unlikely to trade Baynes. In fact, they may be more inclined to pursue upgrades, perhaps targeting power forwards like Kevin Love (Cavaliers) or Danilo Gallinari (Thunder). Gallinari is believed to be higher on Phoenix’s wish list, says Pinucs. “Not many teams will have cap space next summer. The Suns probably would be able to re-sign Gallinari at a much better price (than Love’s contract),” one Western Conference exec said. “There’s uncertainty, especially if they give up a first-rounder, but the difference in price would make Gallinari the better target.”
  • While multiple executives believe the Pacers will eventually trade one of either Domantas Sabonis or Myles Turner, the team itself remains content with its “old-school” frontcourt duo, according to Pincus.

Trade Rumors: Nuggets, Thunder, Turner, More

Within his early breakdown of the 2019/20 trade market, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today notes that the Nuggets may make young role players like Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez available, especially if they can include them in a package that nets them an impact player.

Zillgitt also wonders if Thunder point guard Chris Paul would consider waiving his 2021/22 player option, since eliminating that final year from his contract would make him a far more appealing trade chip to teams looking to retain long-term flexibility. Of course, waiving that option would cost Paul a guaranteed $44MM salary for ’21/22, and there’s no guarantee he’d recoup more than a fraction of that amount on a new deal. So that scenario looks like a bit of a long shot for now.

Here are a few more stories focusing on the NBA’s in-season trade market:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report spoke to a handful of current and former NBA executives to evaluate teams’ needs and players’ value in advance of the February trade deadline. One former general manager thinks it may take more time for teams to become sellers, since sub-.500 teams hold playoff spots in each conference. “I don’t think any of these teams [outside of the top eight] are scared,” the former GM said. “It’s going to take longer for teams to lose confidence that they have a chance to fight for eighth. … We’ll see more separation [in the standings] closer to February.”
  • According to Pincus, several executives believe the Pacers will eventually seriously consider trading Myles Turner, since he’s not considered a great long-term fit alongside Domantas Sabonis. Turner was viewed as the more valuable asset last season, but Sabonis has been better so far this year.
  • Sean Deveney of Heavy.com identifies several newly trade-eligible players who are worth keeping an eye on as February’s deadline nears, including Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell, Bulls forward Thaddeus Young, and several Knicks veterans. We singled out many of the same trade candidates on Monday in our own look at players whose trade restrictions lifted on December 15.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic explores five questions that could shape this season’s trade deadline, such as just how serious the Nuggets and Mavericks are about their short-term chances to contend.

Pacers Notes: A. Holiday, Mitrou-Long, Sabonis, Brogdon

With their second-year point guard Aaron Holiday on a tear recently, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star notes that the Pacers will be sure to field a litany of trade offers. Nine months ago, team advisor Larry Bird apparently cautioned Indiana against including Holiday in a potential trade deal for Mike Conley with the Grizzlies. Bird was confident in the potential of Holiday, picked 23rd in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Magic and Suns apparently also expressed interest in making a move for Holiday around the 2018/19 trade deadline.

Following a performative hiccup at the start of the season, Holiday has picked up his play of late. Though he will return to the bench after starting in the injured Malcolm Brogdon‘s absence, Michael speculates that Holiday has displayed enough flashes to tantalize teams as a potential trade chip once again.

There’s more from Indianapolis:

  • Speaking of Brogdon, The Athletic’s Scott Agness tweets that the point guard will return to the floor for the Pacers tomorrow against the Grizzlies for the first time since injuring his back on November 15th against the Rockets. “I think I stepped wrong and my back reacted strongly to it,” Brogdon said, per Agness. “They said I strained a muscle and possibly a joint. But now the inflammation has gone away, my movement is all the way back, I have no pain and I feel great on the court.”
  • Two-way player Naz Mitrou-Long spoke with Mark Montieth of Pacers.com about his unlikely path to Indiana. A five-year college player for Iowa State, Mitrou-Long toiled in the 2017 Summer League and saw 15 games of NBA action as a two-way player for the Jazz in 2017/18 and 2018/19. He joined the Pacers on November 17th for emergency spot rotation minutes in a game against the Bucks before making the most out of the team’s next outing, a win against the Nets in which he scored 12 points in 25 minutes. “I know guys who have been in the league for three, four, five years who are looking to put a stretch together to reassure themselves,” Mitrou-Long said. “Playing a game like Brooklyn and getting my feet wet against Milwaukee, feeling the comfortability, it reassures me that I am an NBA player.”
  • According to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando, Pacers center/power forward Domantas Sabonis confirmed that he will appear for Lithuania in the FIBA Qualifying Tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It’s what we have to go through to qualify for the next Olympics,” Sabonis observed. “We’re going to battle for the tournament and get a ticket for Japan.”

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.