- Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has been the subject of trade rumors but he insists he didn’t ask to be dealt, according to Eric Woodyard of ESPN (Twitter link). “I never came out and said that I didn’t want to play for the Pacers or be in this organization,” he said. Oladipo, who said he think he’s much healthier than he was last season, added that he feels pressure to prove that he’s still an All-Star caliber player. “It feels like the world (is) on my back and I’ve got to make sure I hold it up,” he said.
- Kelan Martin‘s new two-year deal with the Pacers features a $723K partial guarantee in year one and is non-guaranteed in year two, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Indiana is now over the luxury tax line by $577K, though I expect the team will look to sneak back below that line later in the season, whether or not Martin remains on the roster.
NOVEMBER 28: Bowen’s two-way deal has been finalized, according to RealGM’s log of official transactions.
NOVEMBER 27: The Pacers made Brian Bowen an unrestricted free agent, then decided to bring him back.
Bowen will return to Indiana on a two-way deal, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Indiana didn’t extend a qualifying offer to Bowen prior to free agency after he played his rookie season on a two-way deal.
The small forward appeared in just six games with the Pacers last season. He averaged 16.1 PPG and 7.7 RPG in 29 games with the G League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Bowen played professionally in Australia during the 2018/19 season for the Sydney Kings before going undrafted.
Indiana has its other two-way spot available. Check out our Two-Way Contract Tracker for the latest updates.
Wojnarowski indicates the agreement covers two years. However, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Indiana had been about $1.12MM below the luxury tax line with 14 players on guaranteed contracts. As such, Martin’s deal – which would count for $1.62MM for tax purposes – seems unlikely to be fully guaranteed unless the team has another move lined up to sneak back below the tax line.
Martin emerged as a rotation player in Minnesota last season, averaging 6.4 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 31 games (16.0 MPG), though he struggled with his shot (.392 FG%, .260 FT%).
The 25-year-old initially received a qualifying offer from the Timberwolves, making him a restricted free agent. The club withdrew that QO on Sunday though, allowing him to become unrestricted and to sign outright with Indiana.
In a pair of stories, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files and J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required) provide a few additional details on the Pacers‘ pursuit of Gordon Hayward in free agency, confirming that the Celtics sought a second starting player in addition to Myles Turner in a potential Hayward sign-and-trade. That lines up with what Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reported last week.
Agness says that Hayward and his family purchased a home in the Indianapolis area over a year ago and that his wife was excited about the possibility of moving back to Indiana. However, Ainge apparently drove a hard bargain in trade discussions — Michael reports that even an offer of Turner, a first-round pick, and a rotation player (possibly Doug McDermott, as Washburn reported) wasn’t enough to win over the Celtics.
It’s possible that the hard line drawn by Ainge wouldn’t have ultimately mattered — the Hornets‘ offer of four years and $120MM was about $15MM higher than the Pacers were willing to go, according to Agness. That difference certainly may have been enough to lure Hayward to Charlotte even if the Pacers and Celtics had agreed to trade terms.
Still, both Agness’ and Michael’s reports seem to suggest there was a window when the two teams’ inability to work out a sign-and-trade agreement may have been the only thing standing in the way of Hayward going to Indiana. According to Michael, once the Hornets put their $120MM offer on the table, Ainge wanted to go back to the Pacers to negotiate in “good faith,” but Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein “pulled the plug” on that as the veteran forward chose Charlotte.
Here’s more from around the Central:
- It flew under the radar a little since it wasn’t reported as part of the initial agreement, but the Pistons gave up an eye-popping four second-round picks in their deal that sent Luke Kennard to the Clippers and landed them No. 19 pick Saddiq Bey. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link), those four second-rounders “appear to have been in part the cost of Kennard’s past knee issues.” However, Kennard’s camp is confident those issues are behind him, and it seems the Clippers are too, writes Lowe.
- While the 2020 draft may not be packed with future stars, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said his club “really liked” this year’s class, which was why the team traded for multiple extra picks. “We liked the players that were in it and we just felt there were quality young men that could help continue to build our program, we were aggressive,” Weaver said, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Referring to Bey, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, and Saben Lee, the Pistons’ GM added, “Hopefully, we can look back in time and call this our core four.”
- The failed Bogdan Bogdanovic sign-and-trade was a bad look for the franchise, but Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription required) contends there’s a case to be made that the Bucks will ultimately be better off with the moves they made instead. Not landing Bogdanovic allowed Milwaukee to offer more than the minimum to add role players like D.J. Augustin, Bobby Portis, and Bryn Forbes, and the team didn’t end up having to part with promising 23-year-old Donte DiVincenzo.
- In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago fields questions about the Bulls‘ surprising No. 4 draft pick and the club’s relatively quiet free agent period.
NOVEMBER 25: The deal between the Pacers and the Thunder is now official, with the Thunder acquiring Leaf and a 2027 second-round pick in exchange for Lecque, the team announced in a press release.
NOVEMBER 22: The Thunder are acquiring yet another draft pick, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that Oklahoma City will receive a future second-round pick and forward T.J. Leaf from the Pacers in a deal that sends guard Jalen Lecque to Indiana.
Lecque, a former Sun, was one of the players sent to the Thunder in this week’s Chris Paul trade. He signed a four-year contract with Phoenix as an undrafted free agent a year ago, but only saw action in five NBA games as a rookie. The 20-year-old has a guaranteed $1.52MM salary this season with no guarantees beyond for 2020/21.
It’s not clear whether the Pacers are intent on keeping and developing Lecque, since the move appears to be financially motivated too. As Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets, moving Leaf’s $4.33MM salary for ’20/21 will allow Indiana to slip back below the luxury tax line.
The Thunder will acquire yet another future draft pick as a sweetener for taking on that extra salary, adding another second-rounder to the long list of draft assets GM Sam Presti has picked up during the last couple offseasons.
It doesn’t seem safe to assume this offseason that any newly-acquired player will remain in Oklahoma City for long, but if the Thunder hang onto Leaf, they’ll be getting a player who hasn’t carved out a regular rotation role since being drafted 18th overall in 2017. He averaged just 3.0 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 28 games (7.9 MPG) for the Pacers in 2019/20.
Don’t count on Victor Oladipo to start the season with any team besides the Pacers. Speaking today to reporters, including Michael McCleary of The Indianapolis Star, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said that Oladipo and agent Aaron Turner have both expressed that the standout guard is fully committed to the franchise.
“I think it took some time for (Oladipo) to think about what are his goals,” Pritchard said on Wednesday. “I got a call from his agent yesterday and it’s the same thing, ‘Can’t wait to get to camp, can’t wait to show that he’s healthy and that he’s 100% committed.’ And I have to take people at their word.”
Oladipo has been the subject of trade rumors for several months, with one report even suggesting that he’d asked members of other teams last season if he could come play for them. A report earlier today confirmed that the Bucks and Pacers discussed a possible Oladipo trade earlier in the offseason.
However, the 28-year-old publicly committed to the organization less than two weeks ago and Pritchard sounds satisfied with where things stand. The Pacers’ top basketball executive told reporters today, including McCleary, that the two-time All-Star has formed a strong relationship with new head coach Nate Bjorkgren and that he thinks that could be “a major factor in “chang(ing) the tide in terms of what (Oladipo) feels about us.”
Here’s more out of Indiana:
- The Pacers have 13 players on guaranteed contracts and will keep the last two roster spots open to encourage competition, Pritchard said today (Twitter link via J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star).
- Pritchard said the Pacers pursued Gordon Hayward in free agency “as hard as we possibly could” (Twitter link via Michael). He added that he was transparent with the Pacers players who were discussed in Hayward sign-and-trade scenarios, so there were no surprises when those names were leaked (Twitter link via Michael).
- Addressing the Hayward situation further, Pritchard said “it hurt a little” to miss out on the forward, since “the feedback was he wanted to be here.” Ultimately though, the Pacers didn’t feel comfortable matching the Celtics’ asking price in a sign-and-trade deal. “It can’t come at a cost so debilitating that it doesn’t make sense,” Pritchard said (Twitter links via Michael).
- The Pacers are determined to play T.J. Warren at the four this season after his success there during the NBA restart, Pritchard said (Twitter link via Michael).
- According to Pritchard, the Pacers are hoping that Jeremy Lamb will be practicing by mid-December and back on the court by mid-January at the latest (Twitter link via Michael). Lamb is returning from a torn ACL suffered last February.
- In case you missed it, Indianapolis will now host the 2024 All-Star Game rather than the 2021 event, which is being postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
The NBA and Pacers have postponed All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, which was originally set to be held from February 12-14 in 2021, the league announced in a press release today.
The events have been re-scheduled for February 16-18, 2024, with the All-Star Game scheduled to commence on February 18. Plans for a revised 2021 All-Star Weekend will be announced at a later date.
“While we are disappointed that the NBA All-Star Game will not take place in Indianapolis in 2021, we are looking forward to the Pacers and the city hosting the game and surrounding events in 2024,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “I want to thank [Pacers owner] Herb Simon, Steve Simon, Rick Fuson and the entire Pacers organization as well as the NBA All-Star 2021 Host Committee and the community of Indianapolis for working with us to reschedule our All-Star activities.”
Following 2021, Cleveland is set to host All-Star Weekend in 2022, with Salt Lake City hosting the events in 2023. The 2024 event would mark the second All-Star Game hosted by Indianapolis, with the first being held back in 1985.
“We are excited about the opportunity to bring Indiana the very best All-Star experience in 2024,” Simon said. “The efforts of so many Hoosiers to prepare for NBA All-Star 2021 put us ahead of the game for the hard work to come, and we are so grateful to the NBA for once again recognizing Indianapolis as a city that delivers world-class events.”