Pacers Rumors

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.

Goga Ready To Make Preseason Debut

Pacers’ first-round pick Goga Bitadze will make his preseason debut on Tuesday, Mark Monteith of the team’s website relays. The Euro big man missed the first three preseason games with an ankle injury. He’s slated as the main backup at center with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis projected as starters. “That’s kind of where we’ve got him at,” coach Nate McMillan said. “We’ll see as we get into the season what the rotation is going to look like.”

2019/20 Over/Unders: Central Division

The 2019/20 NBA regular season will get underway in less than two weeks, which means it’s time to start getting serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign.

With the help of the lines from a handful of sports betting sites, including Bovada and BetOnline, we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. In a series of team-by-team polls, you’ll get the chance to weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.

Having already looked at the Atlantic and Northwest, we’re moving onto the Central today…


Milwaukee Bucks

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Bucks poll.


Indiana Pacers

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Pacers poll.


Detroit Pistons

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Pistons poll.


Chicago Bulls

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Bulls poll.


Cleveland Cavaliers

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Cavaliers poll.


Previous voting results:

Atlantic:

  • Philadelphia 76ers (54.5 wins): Over (54.9%)
  • Boston Celtics (49.5 wins): Under (57.0%)
  • Toronto Raptors (46.5 wins): Under (59.1%)
  • Brooklyn Nets (43.5 wins): Over (58.3%)
  • New York Knicks (27.5 wins): Under (54.9%)

Northwest:

  • Denver Nuggets (53.5 wins): Over (51.8%)
  • Utah Jazz (53.5 wins): Under (50.8%)
  • Portland Trail Blazers (46.5 wins): Over (78.7%)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (35.5 wins): Under (57.5%)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (32.5 wins): Under (55.1%)

Woj, Lowe Discuss Extension Candidates

  • 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.

Pacers Notes: Brogdon, Warren, Pritchard, Roster Moves

The 2019/20 season will only be his fourth NBA campaign and his first with the Pacers, but 26-year-old guard Malcolm Brogdon is Indiana’s bona fide team leader in his inaugural season in Indianapolis, writes Mark Montieth of Pacers.com.

At least one assistant coach has already gone as far as comparing Brogdon to perhaps the greatest player in Pacers’ history, five-time NBA All-Star Reggie Miller“I haven’t seen anybody like that in practice since Reggie,” said assistant coach Dan Burke, who has been with the Pacers for nearly 20 seasons.

Likewise, head coach Nate McMillan sees an extension of himself on the court with Brogdon, something every coach longs for in a point guard.

“He’s doing a good job of coming in and competing and getting the guys to compete,” McMillan said “He understands the position he’s in and what’s required of that. He’s communicating with all of our guys. He communicates with the guys he’s playing with and the guys he’s playing against (in practice)… it just comes natural for him.”

There’s more tonight out of Indianapolis:

  • A versatile player, offseason free agent acquisition T.J. Warren has the ability to line up as a power forward in a small-ball lineup, but the Pacers’ focus for him is to excel at small forward, reports J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.
  • Scott Agness of The Athletic writes that the Pacers have elevated their emphasis on the international game and its players since president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard, who played professionally in Spain, Italy, and Germany, was promoted to run the front office back in 2017. “I like the way Europe does it,” Pritchard said. “They put the emphasis early on learning the game versus playing and winning immediately.”
  • As we relayed earlier today and yesterday, the Pacers have made several roster moves in the past 48 hours. In addition to exercising rookie scale options on both Aaron Holiday and T.J. Leaf, the club replaced forward Jakeenan Gant with guard Walt Lemon Jr. on its 20-man roster.

Pacers Pick Up 2020/21 Options On Leaf, Holiday

2:01pm: The Pacers have picked up Leaf’s fourth-year option and Holiday’s third-year option, J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star confirms (via Twitter). In total, the two moves add about $6.67MM in guaranteed money to Indiana’s 2020/21 cap.

1:14pm: The Pacers are exercising the fourth-year rookie scale option for forward T.J. Leaf, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The move will lock in Leaf’s $4,326,825 cap hit for the 2020/21 season.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2020/21 Rookie Scale Options]

The 18th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Leaf hasn’t played a major rotation role for Indiana in his first two NBA seasons. The 22-year-old has appeared in a total of 111 regular season games, but has averaged just 3.4 PPG and 1.9 RPG in 8.8 MPG in those contests.

With Thaddeus Young no longer in the power forward mix for the Pacers, Leaf may see an increased role this season, though the team is committed to playing Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis together in the frontcourt. Newly-added forward T.J. Warren could also see some time at the four in smaller lineups.

Leaf will now become eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2020 offseason. If he doesn’t sign a new deal at that point, he’d be on track for restricted free agency in the summer of 2021.

The Pacers also face an October 31 deadline on Aaron Holiday‘s third-year option for 2020/21. That option, which will only count against the cap for $2,345,640, is a lock to be exercised, so Indiana will likely announce both moves at the same time.

Pacers Sign Walt Lemon Jr.

After opening up a roster spot on Wednesday by waiving Jakeenan Gant, the Pacers filled that spot today, signing Walt Lemon Jr. to their 20-man roster, according to a press release from the team. Indiana’s announcement didn’t any reveal contract details, but it figures to be a non-guaranteed pact for the free agent guard.

Lemon, 27, appeared in five games with the Pelicans during the 2017/18 season and six more with the Bulls in 2018/19. He has spent most of his professional career in the G League, playing a total of 130 games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Maine Red Claws, and Windy City Bulls.

After starting the 2018/19 season on a two-way contract with the Celtics and appearing in 10 contests for Maine, Lemon was released by Boston and had his G League rights acquired by Windy City. He averaged 20.1 PPG, 8.7 APG, and 4.8 RPG in 33 games (33.1 MPG) for the Bulls’ NBAGL affiliate, earning a call-up to Chicago at the end of the season. However, he was cut by the team in July.

It’s not clear what the Pacers’ plan is for Lemon, considering they’re already carrying 15 players with guaranteed salaries and have filled both their two-way slots. In order to have him return to their G League affiliate in Fort Wayne, they’d need to reacquire his returning rights, which are currently held by Windy City.

Pacers Waive Jakeenan Gant

6:10pm: The Pacers confirmed the move on Twitter.

5:34pm: Jakeenan Gant, who had an Exhibit 10 contract with the Pacers, has been placed on waivers, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic.

The 6’8″ forward signed with Indiana in July after going undrafted out of Louisiana-Lafayette. He was named the Sun Belt’s Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 2.7 blocks per game as a senior.

Gant may end up with the Pacers’ G League affiliate in Fort Wayne, where he can earn a bonus of up to $50K if he remains on the roster for 60 days. There was never a clear path to a roster spot with the Pacers, who already have 15 players with guaranteed contracts and both two-way slots already filled.

Goga Bitadze May Not Play In Preseason

  • Pacers first-rounder Goga Bitadze is getting off to a slow start in his rookie season. As J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star details, the big man – who missed Summer League due to visa issues – may not play at all in the preseason because of an ankle injury.

Aaron Holiday Primed For Big Year?

  • Charania points to Pacers guard Aaron Holiday and Suns center Deandre Ayton as two players who appear to be primed for big sophomore NBA seasons. As Charania explains, Holiday will take over as Indiana’s backup point guard behind Malcolm Brogdon, while Suns officials, coaches, and players have all raved about Ayton’s work ethic leading up to the 2019/20 campaign.