Pacers Rumors

Central Notes: Bulls, LaVine, Pistons, Mathurin, Morris

Speaking to reporters on Sunday in Las Vegas, Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas explained why the front office waited until this summer to shake up a roster that finished below .500 in each of the past two regular seasons.

“I think three years ago when we came up with our plan, our formula, that worked for a short period of time until we got into injuries. The reactions, the second year and then obviously, we waited a third year to see where we at,” Karnisovas said, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “Now, we’re kind of making these changes. You could argue it’s too late or early. But that’s where we are right now. We felt that we owed to that group to give them a chance to figure it out. And when we cannot figure it out, that’s when it’s up to us to have direction of the team and make changes. And that’s what happened.”

Those changes have included trading Alex Caruso for fourth-year guard Josh Giddey and letting DeMar DeRozan leave for Sacramento in a sign-and-trade deal. As Johnson relays, Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley both raved about DeRozan’s three years in Chicago, referring to him as a player who represented the team’s values and who was an “extension of (head coach) Billy (Donovan) on the court and off the court.”

While a trade involving Zach LaVine remains possible before the 2024/25 season begins, the Bulls’ top executives suggested on Sunday that they don’t want to make a bad deal to just get LaVine – who has three years left on his maximum-salary contract – off their books. Karnisovas spoke as if the team is preparing for the two-time All-Star to remain on the roster this fall, and Johnson says management believes injuries contributed to LaVine’s slow start last season.

“We expect Zach being fully healthy. And he is healthy. I think he can help this group next year. He’s been professional,” Karnisovas said. “Again, he’s healthy. We expect him to be with us at the start of training camp.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Pistons‘ roster isn’t necessarily a finished product, but with 14 players on guaranteed standard contracts, it’s getting pretty close, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. With that in mind, Edwards explores what the team’s depth chart for 2024/25 might look like, explaining why he’s penciling in Ausar Thompson over Simone Fontecchio as a starter at small forward.
  • Bennedict Mathurin, whose 2023/24 season came to an early end due to shoulder surgery, has “almost been cleared for contact,” according to Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle (Twitter link via Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files). The expectation is that Mathurin will be ready to go for training camp this fall.
  • The Pacers announced on Saturday that Jim Morris, the vice chairman of Pacers Sports and Entertainment, has died at the age of 81. “There are no words that would do justice to how consequential Jim’s life truly was,” Pacers governor Herb Simon said as part of a longer statement. In a statement of his own (Twitter link), NBA commissioner Adam Silver referred to Morris as “Indiana royalty.”

Groups Revealed For 2024 NBA Cup

The NBA has announced the five-team groups for this year’s in-season tournament, now renamed the Emirates NBA Cup, the league announced in a release on Friday (Twitter link).

Like last year, there are six groups — three each from the Western Conference and Eastern Conference — and each conference was split into five groups based on last year’s standings. One team was selected at random from each group to determine the group round matchups.

The results are:

  • West Group A: Timberwolves, Clippers, Kings, Rockets and Trail Blazers
  • West Group B: Thunder, Suns, Lakers, Jazz and Spurs
  • West Group C: Nuggets, Mavericks, Pelicans, Warriors and Grizzlies
  • East Group A: Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Nets and Hornets
  • East Group B: Bucks, Pacers, Heat, Raptors and Pistons
  • East Group C: Celtics, Cavaliers, Bulls, Hawks and Wizards

The NBA Cup begins with group play, which runs from Nov. 12 to Dec. 3. Each team plays one game against each of the four opponents in its group. The NBA released a matchup matrix to help fans follow along (Twitter link).

Just like last season, the winner of each group advances to a knockout round alongside the team with the best record in each conference that didn’t win a group. The semifinals and finals will again be played in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Last year, the Lakers won the inaugural in-season tournament over the Pacers. LeBron James was named the tournament MVP after dropping 24 points in the title game.

The full game and broadcast schedule for group play will be announced next month.

Central Notes: Mobley, Pacers, Bulls, Buzelis

Could Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension, sign a deal to secure his long-term future in Cleveland this summer? During an appearance on ESPN Cleveland (YouTube video link), Brian Windhorst of ESPN expressed optimism that an agreement will be reached sooner rather than later.

“I would expect the contract to be done somewhat soon,” Windhorst said. “I think the Cavs are willing to give him the max, and quite frankly, they don’t have a leg to stand on now that the guys around him in their draft class with comparable statistics and comparable futures have gotten the max.”

Across 50 healthy contests last season for the 48-34 Cavaliers, the 6’11” power forward averaged 15.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 blocks and 0.9 steals per game with a .580/.373/.719 shooting line. If he gets a maximum-salary extension, he would be the fourth player from the 2021 draft class to do so, joining Scottie Barnes, Franz Wagner, and Cade Cunningham.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Fresh off their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in a decade, the Pacers still have roster spots available, including all three of their two-way slots, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Three current Summer League players for Indiana are all in the mix for spots on the 18-man regular season squad. Swingman Kendall Brown is on a non-guaranteed contract, while guard Quenton Jackson and center Oscar Tshiebwe are both restricted free agents after serving on two-way contracts in 2023/24. Indiana also has a pair of unsigned second-round picks (Tristen Newton and Enrique Freeman) and has a decision to make on the fate of unrestricted free agent forward James Johnson, a veteran enforcer who is more of a locker-room presence than a rotation player at this stage of his career.
  • Although the Bulls have offloaded two of their veteran starters, six-time All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan and two-time All-Defensive Team guard Alex Caruso, in separate deals this summer, Chicago may need to make further roster moves to maximize their tanking opportunity, opines Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.
  • Rookie Bulls point forward Matas Buzelis, the No. 11 pick out of the G League Ignite in this year’s draft, is hoping to make a major two-way impact in his first NBA season, as he revealed during a new interview on NBC Sports Chicago’s “Bulls Talk” podcast. “My rookie year, I’m not going to have any plays ran for me,” Buzelis said (hat tip to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago for the transcription). “So I have to go play defense and be an energy guy and make open shots.” 

Team Canada Finalizes 2024 Olympic Roster

The Canadian national team has formally announced its 12-man roster for the Paris Olympics, making its final cuts ahead of Wednesday’s exhibition games against Team USA.

Team Canada’s 12-man squad is as follows:

While the group obviously isn’t as star-studded as the U.S. roster, it’s headed up by a 2024 MVP finalist (Gilgeous-Alexander) and a guard who was the second-best player on the 2023 NBA champions (Murray). In total, it features 10 active NBA players, and all of them played regular roles for their respective teams in 2023/24.

The only two non-NBA players are Birch, who spent six seasons in the league but now plays in Spain, and Ejim, a former Iowa State standout and a Team Canada veteran who has been a productive contributor for several teams in Europe since 2014.

Andrew Wiggins is among the notable names missing from Team Canada’s squad for Paris. He was on the original training camp roster but withdrew right before camp began due to what the Warriors referred to a mutual decision. Various reports, however, suggested that Golden State was the party driving that decision.

Grizzlies rookie Zach Edey also removed his name from the training camp roster in order to focus on Summer League and his first NBA season.

Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe and Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin, both of whom were coming off injuries that ended their 2023/24 seasons, were among the players who attended training camp but weren’t in the mix for roster spots for the Paris Olympics. Timberwolves forward Leonard Miller was in that group too.

This will be the first time Canada has been in the men’s basketball event at the Olympics since 2000.

Olympic Notes: France, Japan, Spain, Flagg, Brooks

The host nation for the 2024 Olympics officially confirmed its roster for the Paris games, announcing a 12-man squad headlined by centers Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama of the Spurs and Timberwolves, respectively (Twitter link).

Besides France’s twin towers, other NBA players on the French squad include Clippers forward Nicolas Batum, Wizards forward Bilal Coulibaly, and free agent swingman Evan Fournier. Nando De Colo, Frank Ntilikina, and Guerschon Yabusele are among the other players on the team who have previous NBA experience.

As first reported by Gabriel Pantel-Jouve of BeBasket on Sunday (via Twitter), France’s final two cuts were also former NBA players — guards Elie Okobo and Theo Maledon won’t be on the 12-man roster for Paris.

Here are a few more notes on the upcoming Olympic games:

  • As expected, Japan’s official 12-man roster for the Olympics is headed up by Lakers forward Rui Hachimura and six-year NBA veteran Yuta Watanabe (Instagram link). Former Nebraska Keisei Tominaga, who recently agreed to an Exhibit 10 deal with the Pacers, is another notable name on the 12-man squad.
  • After winning their Olympic qualifying tournament over the weekend, Spain is making just one change for the Olympics, as Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops writes. Veteran wing Alex Abrines, who played in the NBA with Oklahoma City from 2016-19, has been medically cleared to play following an injury and will replace 2024 Spurs second-round pick Juan Nunez for the Olympics. The full roster, which includes Santi Aldama of the Grizzlies and the Hernangomez brothers, can be found right here (Twitter link).
  • Incoming Duke freshman Cooper Flagg said over the weekend that he was “pretty surprised” to be invited to be part of the Select Team for the U.S. training camp in Las Vegas, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. However, Flagg was the talk of that Vegas camp, earning rave reviews from players and coaches alike, according to Joe Vardon and Sam Amick of The Athletic. Select Team assistant coach Jim Boylen referred to the 17-year-old as “unbelievable,” while teammate Jaime Jaquez said Flagg was “playing out of his mind.” Flagg is a candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the 2025 draft. “He showed no fear,” Jalen Duren said. “He came and worked hard every day. You would think he’s already here, you know what I mean?”
  • After defeating Team USA with the Canadian national team for bronze at the 2023 World Cup, Dillon Brooks is eager to face a more star-studded U.S. in Wednesday’s exhibition game in Las Vegas, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. “I take it as (just) another game, but me being who I am, I like to make a statement,” Brooks told reporters on Monday. “So I’ll be ready to play. Team Canada will be ready to play, and we’re gonna go balls to the wall and watch the film after and see if we got better.”

Contract Details: George, Martin, Wiseman, Isaac, Hield, More

Following the end of the July moratorium on Saturday, teams wasted no time in officially finalizing many of the contracts they’d agreed to up until that point.

Now that those contracts have been completed, we have the official details on many of them. Here, via several reporters – including Keith Smith of Spotrac, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, and cap expert Yossi Gozlan – as well as our own sources, are some of those notable details:

Players with trade kickers:

Lakers forward LeBron James (15%), Knicks forward OG Anunoby (15%), Sixers forward Paul George (15%), Sixers forward Caleb Martin (15%), Mavericks sharpshooter Klay Thompson (15%), and Mavericks forward Naji Marshall (5%) received trade kickers on their new free agent deals, while Celtics guard Derrick White (15%) got one on his contract extension.

As an aside, James’ exact starting salary in 2024/25 is $48,728,845, which is $1,258,873 below the maximum he could have earned.

Players who waived their right to veto a trade:

A player who re-signs with his team on a one-year contract (or two-year contract with a second-year option) is typically awarded the right to veto a trade, but has the option to waive that option.

Heat center Thomas Bryant, Rockets guard Aaron Holiday, Raptors wing Garrett Temple, and Magic teammates Gary Harris and Moritz Wagner all surrendered their right to veto a trade in 2024/25 and could be moved freely.

Unlikely incentives:

Nets center Nic Claxton ($97MM base + $3MM incentives), Pacers forward Obi Toppin ($58MM +$2MM), Suns forward Royce O’Neale ($42MM +$2MM), and Sixers forward Martin ($35,040,704 + $5,256,106) are among the players whose contracts include unlikely bonuses that would boost the total guaranteed salary if those incentives are reached.

As cap expert Albert Nahmad observes, the structure of Martin’s contract helped the 76ers maximize their cap room, since his unlikely incentives don’t count toward the cap once he signs.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Martin’s “unlikely” incentives are easier to earn than a typical player’s incentives would be — I don’t expect them to be for making an All-Star team or anything like that. An incentive is considered unlikely for cap purposes if the player wouldn’t have met the criteria the year before. For example, as Nahmad suggests, a bonus related to Martin making 24 or more starts would be considered unlikely because he started 23 games last season. Martin’s bonuses – considered “unlikely” for cap purposes but perhaps “likely” to be earned in reality – could have served as a way to strengthen the Sixers’ offer without sacrificing that extra cap room.

It’s also worth noting that a player’s unlikely incentives can’t exceed 15% of his guaranteed base salary, and Martin’s $5,256,106 in incentives represent exactly 15% of his overall $35,040,704 salary.

Partial or non-guarantees and options:

James Wiseman‘s two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Pacers is guaranteed for $500K in year one, with a team option for 2025/26. That team option would be guaranteed for $569,041 if exercised (ie. the same percentage as his first-year salary).

Luka Garza got a similarly structured two-year, minimum-salary deal with the Timberwolves, except his first year is fully guaranteed prior to his second-year team option. That 2025/26 option would be guaranteed if picked up.

As previously reported, Isaiah Hartenstein‘s three-year, $87MM deal with the Thunder includes a team option for 2026/27. It’s worth $28.5MM, with $58.5MM in guaranteed money across the first two seasons.

Magic teammates Harris ($7.5MM) and Wagner ($11MM) each have second-year team options on their two-year deals.

The Rockets used their full bi-annual exception to give Holiday a two-year deal worth $9,569,400 that includes a second-year team option ($4,901,400).

Neemias Queta‘s three-year, minimum-salary contract with the Celtics is fully guaranteed in year one with a partial guarantee of exactly 50% ($1,174,789 of $2,349,578) in year two, plus a third-year team option for 2026/27. The third-year option ($2,667,944) would be guaranteed for 50% ($1,333,972) if exercised. Since his minimum deal covers more than two years, a team wouldn’t be able to acquire Queta via the minimum salary exception if he’s traded down the road.

Jonathan Isaac‘s new long-term deal with the Magic is partially guaranteed ($8MM of $14MM) in 2026/27, with non-guaranteed salaries of $14.5MM in 2027/28 and $15MM in 2028/29. However, each of those salaries would become fully guaranteed if Isaac plays at least 52 games in the prior season. For instance, if Isaac were to appear in 54 games in 2026/27, his $14.5MM salary for ’27/28 would be fully guaranteed.

Sign-and-trade contracts:

Interestingly, Kyle Anderson‘s and Buddy Hield‘s new contracts with the Warriors have the exact same salaries for the first three seasons: $8,780,488, $9,219,512, and $9,658,536. Anderson’s three-year deal is fully guaranteed for the first two years and non-guaranteed in year three.

As for Hield, his four-year contract is fully guaranteed for the first two years, with a partial guarantee of $3MM for year three. His fourth year is a $10,097,560 player option that would be partially guaranteed for $3,136,364 if exercised.

Klay Thompson’s three-year contract with the Mavericks comes in at exactly $50MM, as reported — it starts at $15,873,016 and features 5% annual raises.

Jonas Valanciunas‘ three-year contract with the Wizards is worth $30,295,000 in total, beginning at $9.9MM (which is the amount of the trade exception generated for the Pelicans). It’s fully guaranteed for the first two seasons and non-guaranteed in year three.

Cody Zeller got a three-year, $11,025,000 deal in the sign-and-trade that sent him from New Orleans to the Hawks. The first year is guaranteed for $3.5MM, with two non-guaranteed seasons after that.

Finally, as part of the Mikal Bridges trade, new Nets guard Shake Milton got a three-year, $9,162,405 contract that has a guaranteed first-year salary of $2,875,000, with two non-guaranteed years after that ($3MM in 2025/26 and $3,287,406 in ’26/27). His teammate Mamadi Diakite, who was also sent to Brooklyn in the trade, had his $2,273,252 salary partially guaranteed for $1,392,150.

Milton’s $2,875,000 salary, Diakite’s $1,392,150 partial guarantee, and Bojan Bogdanovic‘s $19,032,850 salary add up to $23.3MM, which is equivalent to Bridges’ salary — the exact amount of outgoing salary the Knicks needed to send to avoid being hard-capped at the first tax apron.

Pacers Sign Johnny Furphy To Four-Year Deal

The Pacers have signed second-round pick Johnny Furphy to a four-year, $8.59MM contract, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. The fourth year is a team option.

Furphy was projected as a first-round pick and even had a green room invite but slipped to the second round. He was part of a draft night trade after being selected by the Spurs with the No. 35 selection.

Indiana is using the second-round exception to sign Furphy. The max allowed under the second-round exception on a four-year deal is around $9.06MM, so Furphy took a little less than that.

Players who are signed using the second-round pick exception won’t count against a team’s cap between July 1 and July 30 of their first season.

He averaged 9.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game in his one-and-done season at Kansas.

Central Notes: Furphy, Walker, LaVine, Pistons’ Moves

Johnny Furphy had the unfortunate experience of sitting in the green room during the first day of the draft and not getting selected. The Pacers nabbed the former Kansas forward early in the second round. He came to the Summer League team ready to go.

“It’s something I’d been working for my whole life,” Furphy told Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star. “It was just a massive relief. It was great to have my family there to share those moments with them. It was a dream come true. It’s pretty surreal, it’s just slowly settling in now that this is reality. It’s exciting.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers drafted Jarace Walker last year as a power forward. With Pascal Siakam re-signing with the club, Walker will get extended minutes at small forward during Summer League play. He’ll also get opportunities to handle the ball, according to Dopirak. “I feel like playing the three, I’m bigger and longer. I’m usually stronger so I’m probably going to have a smaller, quicker matchup,” he said. “Being able to move my feet, stay in front of those matchups and keep them from going downhill. That’s always been kind of my strong suit almost, my defensive versatility being able to guard multiple positions. It will be a challenge, but nothing I haven’t done for.”
  • The Bulls and Kings worked out a three-team deal in which DeMar DeRozan will head to Sacramento in a sign-and-trade. Chicago attempted to trade another starter to the Kings before the DeRozan deal materialized, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The two teams held trade talks centered on Zach LaVine. The Bulls will continue their efforts to trade LaVine and they now have two second-round picks coming in the DeRozan deal to help facilitate a potential trade.
  • So far, Trajan Langdon has shown patience in his first year as the Pistons’ president of basketball operations and that’s a good thing, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. Langdon has brought in veterans on short-team contracts with proven shooting ability to help out Cade Cunningham. He’s also got more cap space available to acquire other players in salary dumps with assets attached, as he did with Dallas in the Tim Hardaway Jr. trade.
  • In a similar piece, Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press asserts that the moves Langdon and his front office staff have made gives the Pistons some semblance of a modern NBA roster. Doubling last season’s 14-win total isn’t out of the question with the veterans they’ve added to help balance the roster, Windsor adds.

Pascal Siakam Signs Sign Four-Year Max Deal With Pacers

JULY 6: Siakam has officially re-signed with the Pacers, according to the NBA’s transaction log. Assuming Siakam got the full max, as expected, the deal is worth approximately $188.95MM over four years.

JUNE 19: Siakam intends to sign a four-year, maximum-salary contract with the Pacers after the July moratorium ends, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). As outlined below, a four-year max deal would be worth $189.5MM based on the most recent cap projections.

JUNE 18: The Pacers and star forward Pascal Siakam are nearing an agreement on a long-term contract, reports Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link).

The No. 3 free agent on our top-50 list, Siakam was traded from Toronto to Indiana in January after spending the first seven-and-a-half seasons of his NBA career in Toronto, where he earned two All-Star berths, two All-NBA nods, a Most Improved Player award, and a championship.

In his first 41 regular season games as a Pacer, the 30-year-old averaged 21.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 31.8 minutes per game with a shooting line of .549/.386/.699. Siakam was Indiana’s leading scorer in both the regular season and the playoffs — he averaged 21.6 PPG on 54.1% shooting in the postseason and helped lead his new club to series victories over Milwaukee and New York, resulting in the franchise’s first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals in 10 years.

The expectation is that Siakam, who is coming off a four-year, maximum-salary rookie scale extension, will once again get the max or something very close to it on his new deal with the Pacers, though no terms have been reported yet. A max contract for Siakam projects to be worth approximately $189.5MM over four years or $245.3MM over five.

The NBA and NBPA agreed to a rule change that goes into effect this offseason, allowing teams to begin negotiating with their own free agents on the day after the end of the NBA Finals instead of on June 30.

Technically, the Pacers were allowed to talk to Siakam even before Tuesday, since he has been extension-eligible since arriving in Indiana. However, a player’s years and dollars in an extension are capped for six months after a trade, so Siakam will likely end up becoming a free agent and then signing a new contract instead of extending his current deal. That means that even if he and Indiana reach an agreement shortly, it’s unlikely to become official until July 6, after the moratorium ends.

With a new deal for Siakam on the books and Tyrese Haliburton‘s own five-year, maximum-salary extension taking effect in 2024/25, the Pacers won’t have any cap room available this offseason, barring cost-cutting moves. They’ll have some breathing room below the luxury tax line for now, but will have a few more contract decisions to make after they work out a deal with Siakam — Obi Toppin will be eligible for restricted free agency, Jalen Smith holds a $5.4MM player option that he may decline, and T.J. McConnell will be extension-eligible beginning in July.

Spurs Trade Furphy To Pacers For Nunez, Cash

JULY 6: The trade sending No. 35 pick Furphy to Indiana in exchange for No. 36 pick Nunez and cash is officially complete, the Pacers announced in a press release. The deal couldn’t be completed until the start of the 2024/25 league year because San Antonio had reached its cash received limit for ’23/24.

JUNE 27: The Pacers and Spurs have agreed to swap places in the second round of the draft, with Indiana moving up one spot to No. 35 and San Antonio moving down to No. 36, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).

The Pacers used the No. 35 pick to select Kansas wing Johnny Furphy, while the Spurs picked Spanish point guard Juan Nunez at No. 36.

The Spurs are receiving cash from the Pacers in exchange for moving down one spot, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). That means Indiana will be hard-capped at the second tax apron for the 2024/25 league year, since second-apron teams aren’t permitted to send out cash in trades. That shouldn’t have a major impact on the Pacers’ plans, since they were very unlikely to spend that much on next season’s roster anyway.

Furphy, a 6’9″ Australian who was widely viewed as a potential first-round pick, averaged 9.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game in his first and only college season with the Jayhawks, posting a shooting line of .466/.352/.765. He’s the first player selected in this draft by the Pacers, who sent their first-round pick to Toronto in the Pascal Siakam trade.

As for Nunez, it’s unclear whether or not he’ll join the Spurs for the 2024/25 season, since he has widely been viewed as a draft-and-stash candidate.