Pacers Rumors

Oladipo Excited About Newcomers

Victor Oladipo is sure the Pacers will make the playoffs due to the additions of Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb, among others, as he told J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star.

“I feel like we got some great additions. We got a chance to be really special. I feel like the league is wide open,” the Pacers’ guard said. “I was excited for the opportunity to play with (Brogdon). I know what type of player he is, the level that he plays on and has been playing on the last couple of years from Milwaukee. To have him as an addition is pretty big for us.”

Oladipo is working his way back from a quad injury and it’s uncertain whether he’ll be ready by the time the Pacers open training camp. “I’m not sure yet,” he told Mark Monteith of the team’s website.

  • Thaddeus Young is a quality finisher and that will help boost the Bulls’ offense, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. Young shot 67.9% from inside three feet for the Pacers last season, while Chicago ranked 28th in the NBA in field goal percentage inside five feet, making just 58% of its attempts, Strotman notes. Young jumped teams on a three-year, $41MM pact early in the free agent season.

Domantas Sabonis Talks Extension, Fit With Myles Turner

Domantas Sabonis has one year remaining on his rookie deal with the Pacers. The big man believes there’s a good chance he’ll sign an extension this offseason, but he’s remaining patient.

“Like my dad said: You did your job. You did your best and now you just have to wait. Now I can’t do anything. I just need to be patient and wait,” Sabonis said (via international journalist Donatas Urbonas’ Twitter feed).

The 23-year-old is arguably best-suited to play the five, which is also Myles Turner‘s best position. With Turner, who signed a four-year extension last season, in the fold and the Pacers drafting center Goga Bitadze in the first round of June’s draft, it’s fair to wonder about Indiana’s plan for Sabonis. The 23-year-old isn’t worried about the overlap with Turner.

“We know it can work,” Sabonis told Urbonas (Twitter link). “I think we were a good fit last season. We just need more time. Not only a few minutes per game, but a whole season or at least half of it. There are going to be better and worse games, but we need trust and everything will be fine.”

NBA Teams With Hard Caps For 2019/20

The NBA salary cap is somewhat malleable, with various exceptions allowing every team to surpass the $109,140,000 threshold once their room is used up. In some cases, teams blow past not only the cap limit, but the luxury-tax limit of $132,627,000 as well — the Trail Blazers have this season’s highest payroll at the moment, more than $11MM above the tax line.

The NBA doesn’t have a “hard cap” by default, which allows a club like Portland to build a significant payroll without violating CBA rules. However, there are certain scenarios in which teams can be hard-capped.

When a club uses the bi-annual exception, acquires a player via sign-and-trade, or uses more than the taxpayer portion ($5,718,000) of the mid-level exception, that club will face a hard cap for the remainder of the league year.

When a team becomes hard-capped, it cannot exceed the “tax apron” at any point during the rest of the league year. The tax apron was set $6MM above the luxury tax line in 2017/18 (the first year of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement) and creeps up a little higher each season. For the 2019/20 league year, the tax apron – and hard cap for certain clubs – is set at $138,928,000.

More teams than ever this offseason have been willing to hard-cap themselves, and in at least a couple cases, it will significantly impact a team’s ability to add further reinforcements later in the league year. The Warriors and Heat are nearly right up against the hard cap, and won’t be players in free agency during the season unless they can shed salary.

So far this year, half the teams in the NBA have imposed a hard cap on themselves by using the bi-annual exception, using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, or acquiring a player via sign-and-trade. Listed below are those 15 teams, along with how they created a hard cap.

Boston Celtics

  • Acquired Kemba Walker from the Hornets via sign-and-trade.

Brooklyn Nets

  • Acquired Kevin Durant from the Warriors via sign-and-trade.

Charlotte Hornets

  • Acquired Terry Rozier from the Celtics via sign-and-trade.

Chicago Bulls

Dallas Mavericks

  • Acquired Delon Wright from the Grizzlies via sign-and-trade.
  • Used approximately $7.46MM of their mid-level exception to sign Seth Curry.
  • Used their bi-annual exception to sign Boban Marjanovic.

Detroit Pistons

  • Used approximately $7.32MM of their mid-level exception to sign Derrick Rose.
  • Used their bi-annual exception to sign Markieff Morris.

Golden State Warriors

Indiana Pacers

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Used their full mid-level exception ($9,258,000) to sign Tyus Jones.
  • Used their bi-annual exception to sign Marko Guduric.

Miami Heat

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Acquired Jake Layman from the Trail Blazers via sign-and-trade.

Orlando Magic

  • Used their full mid-level exception ($9,258,000) to sign Al-Farouq Aminu.

San Antonio Spurs

Toronto Raptors

Washington Wizards

Outside of the Warriors and Heat, no clubs on the list above are really being restricted by the hard cap at this time. A few teams – such as the Pistons and Magic – are near the luxury tax threshold, but that still gives them several million dollars in breathing room below the hard cap.

While it’s possible that trades could push some teams closer to the apron, Golden State and Miami appear to be the only clubs that will be noticeably affected by the hard cap in 2019/20.

Central Notes: Holiday, Billups, Pistons, LaVine

New Pacers guard Justin Holiday was drawn to Indiana as a free agent due to the team’s winning culture and mentality, according to David Woods of the Indianapolis Star.

Holiday, whose brother Aaron Holiday currently plays for the Pacers, agreed to a one-year, $4.8MM deal with Indiana after evaluating interest on the open market. He has mostly played for non-playoff teams in recent seasons, making stops with Philadelphia, Golden State, Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Memphis across his six-year career.

“It had nothing to do with finances at all,” Holiday said, as relayed by Woods. “I literally came here because of the culture of the team, coaching staff, the people in the front office. And my brother – that helps as well.

“This team wins every year. That’s something I want to do, is to be able to win. And also help the team get to the next level because I believe can do that.”

Holiday is expected to provide depth in the backcourt for the Pacers, a franchise that finished with a solid record (48-34) last year despite losing All-Star guard Victor Oladipo to injury. Indiana will be seeking its fifth straight playoff appearance and ninth in the last 10 years this upcoming season.

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • Former Pistons star Chauncey Billups hopes to see the team reach the playoffs again next spring, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes. “Continuity can be a good thing, just add some pieces here and there,” Billups said. “I need to see how it all works together, but we’ll see because teams got a lot better. I can’t tell you the Pistons are one of those teams that got a lot better — maybe a little better. Obviously, I’m hoping that the Pistons will jump out there and kick a lot of butt because I’m tired of people talking stuff to me about my Pistons.”
  • New players could allow the Pistons to mix up rotations and try different lineups this season, Rod Beard writes for The Detroit News. The Pistons signed Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris and Tim Frazier to contracts in free agency, also acquiring forward Tony Snell from Milwaukee, claiming Christian Wood off waivers and selecting Sekou Doumbouya at No. 15 in June’s NBA Draft.
  • Former Bulls forward Bobby Portis tweeted his support on Saturday to get Zach LaVine on Team USA for the FIBA World Cup. Portis and LaVine were teammates in Chicago for part of last season and during the 2017/18 season.

Pacers Sign JaKarr Sampson To One-Year Deal

AUGUST 2: The Pacers have officially signed Sampson, the team confirmed today in a press release.

The guarantee details on Sampson’s deal have yet to be reported, but it’s probably safe to assume it’s not fully guaranteed unless we hear otherwise.

JULY 24: Forward JaKarr Sampson has agreed to a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with the Pacers, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Sampson had signed to play overseas with Shandong in the Chinese Basketball Association, so either that deal fell through or he had an out clause. He played six games with Shandong last season and 24 G league games with the Windy City Bulls.

Sampson, 26, has bounced around since making his debut during the 2014/15 season with Philadelphia. He’s also played for Denver, Sacramento and Chicago. In four games with the Bulls last season, he averaged 20.0 PPG and 8.0 RPG in 31.8 MPG. In his career, Sampson has played 173 NBA games, averaging 5.5 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 16.0 MPG. He’s a career 25.7% shooter from beyond the arc.

The 6’9” forward will add depth at both forward spots behind starters T.J. Warren and Domantas Sabonis.

Pacers Sign Naz Mitrou-Long To Two-Way Deal

JULY 31: The Pacers have officially signed Mitrou-Long to a two-way deal, the team announced today (via Twitter).

JULY 30: The Pacers have reached an agreement to sign Naz Mitrou-Long to a two-way contract, league sources tell Scott Agness and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Agness adds (via Twitter) that Mitrou-Long is expected to formally sign his deal with Indiana on Wednesday as the team works to finalize a handful of contract agreements.

An undrafted free agent out of Iowa State, Mitrou-Long has appeared in 15 games for the Jazz over the past two seasons, having inked multiple two-way and 10-day contracts with Utah during that time.

The 6’4″ guard, who turns 26 years old this Saturday, saw far more action with the Jazz’s G League affiliate over the last two years. He averaged 18.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.7 APG on .432/.359/.845 shooting in 72 games for the Salt Lake City Stars during that stretch.

An impressive Summer League stint with the Cavaliers, in which Mitrou-Long averaged 16.8 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 5.0 RPG in four games, boosted the Canadian’s stock this offseason and helped earned him a new deal with the Pacers.

He and Brian Bowen II, who inked a two-way contract with Indiana on July 1, will occupy the team’s two-way slots for now.

Pacers Sign Justin Holiday

JULY 31: The Pacers have signed Holiday, the team confirmed today (via Twitter). Now that the deal is complete, Indiana is officially over the cap.

JULY 19: One of the most notable veteran free agents still on the market has reached a deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), who reports that swingman Justin Holiday is signing a one-year, $4.8MM contract with the Pacers.

Holiday, 30, appeared in 82 total games last season for the Bulls and Grizzlies, averaging 10.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 1.5 SPG in 31.8 minutes per contest. With most starting-caliber free agents off the board, Holiday was one of the only veterans left who appeared likely to sign for more than the minimum.

In Indiana, it appears he’ll receive the team’s room exception, which is worth $4.767MM. With Victor Oladipo not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season Holiday should get a chance to play plenty of minutes at the two in the early going.

Even after Oladipo returns, Holiday is on track to play a regular role on the wing for the Pacers, alongside players like newly-added swingman Jeremy Lamb and forwards T.J. Warren and Doug McDermott.

Joining the Pacers will also give Holiday the opportunity to unite with younger brother Aaron Holiday, who should have an increased role in Indiana’s backcourt. It will be the first time since the 2012/13 season, when Justin briefly played with Jrue Holiday in Philadelphia, that two of the Holiday brothers have been on the same roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacers Officially Sign Edmond Sumner

A deal that was agreed upon four weeks ago has now been completed, with the Pacers announcing today that they’ve officially signed guard Edmond Sumner to his new contract.

Sumner’s three-year deal will reportedly be worth approximately $6.5MM. We’re still waiting on the specific details on the guarantee and the structure, but at least one report indicated that the third year won’t be guaranteed.

After being selected with the 52nd overall pick in the 2017 draft, Sumner has spent his first two professional seasons in Indiana, first on a two-way contract and later on a standard deal. The 23-year-old has logged limited minutes in 24 games for the Pacers over those two years, but has played a more extensive role for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Indiana’s G League affiliate. In 26 NBAGL contests in 2018/19, he averaged 22.1 PPG, 3.8 APG, and 1.7 SPG with a .472/.360/.748 shooting line.

According to Scott Agness of The Athletic (Twitter link), the left foot injury that sidelined Sumner for all but one Summer League game in Las Vegas earlier this month has cleared up, and he’s ready to compete for a rotation spot in training camp this fall.

Having also officially signed T.J. McConnell today, the Pacers appear to have exhausted their cap space for the offseason, so other signings – namely Justin Holiday via the room exception – should follow soon.

Pacers Sign T.J. McConnell

JULY 29: Nearly four weeks after agreeing to terms with him, the Pacers have officially signed McConnell, the team confirmed today (via Twitter).

JULY 3: The Pacers have reached an agreement to sign free agent point guard T.J. McConnell, a league source tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), it’ll be a two-year, $7MM deal.

McConnell, who went undrafted out of Arizona in 2015, caught on with the Sixers and spent his first four NBA seasons in Philadelphia before becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer.

In 2018/19, McConnell averaged 6.4 PPG, 3.4 APG, and 2.3 RPG while shooting a career-high 52.5% from the floor in 76 games (19.3 MPG). However, the 27-year-old fell out of Philadelphia’s rotation in the postseason, logging just 18 total minutes in the club’s seven-game series vs. Toronto.

With Darren Collison retiring and Cory Joseph heading to Sacramento this offseason, the Pacers have addressed the point guard position by agreeing to acquire Malcolm Brogdon in a sign-and-trade, coming to terms on a new deal with Edmond Sumner, and now reaching an agreement with McConnell. Last year’s first-round pick Aaron Holiday is also on track to return to help fill out the depth chart.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes (via Twitter), the Pacers projected to have a little over $5MM available in cap room before their deal with McConnell. He could be signed using some of that space, or the team could wait and fit his contract into its $4.8MM room exception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teams Inquired On Myles Turner Before, After Draft

Teams contacted the Pacers both before and after last month’s draft to inquire about center Myles Turner, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. However, it’s not clear if any of those talks gained any real traction, Begley notes.

Around the time of the draft, J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star reported that no one on Indiana’s roster was truly untouchable, but suggested that the club had no plans to trade Turner. About a week later, ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote that the Pacers rejected trade offers for the veteran center at the draft.

According to Begley, multiple teams that had conversations with the Pacers about Turner were left with the impression that it would take an “incredibly significant offer” to acquire him.

The Pacers appear to have a mini-logjam at the five, with first-round pick Goga Bitadze joining Turner and rising young center Domantas Sabonis on the depth chart. However, the club is committed to playing Turner and Sabonis alongside one another going forward.

It would be in Indiana’s best interest if the two young big men can co-exist and thrive on the court together. Turner is entering the first year of a four-year contract with a total base value of $72MM. Sabonis, meanwhile, is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, so he’ll get much more expensive beginning in 2020/21.

If the duo produces mixed results this season and the Pacers look like a more dangerous team with one or the other on the floor, it could force the front office to make some tough decisions related to Sabonis’ potential restricted free agency and long-term future. For now though, it seems safe to say that neither player – especially Turner – is going anywhere.