Myles Turner

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.”

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.

And-Ones: Pacers, Favors, Zhou, Teodosic

The Pacers were thrilled to see Goga Bitadze still available when the team picked at No. 18, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star relays. The scribe hears that many within the league were surprised Bitadze was still available at that spot. However, several executives told Michael that had they been running the Pacers, they wouldn’t have taken the center unless they planned on trading either Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis.

Most of the executives Michael spoke to believe that if the team decides to trade either Turner and Sabonis, the latter will be the one to go. Turner is entering the first season of a four-year, $80MM contract, while Sabonis is entering the last year of his rookie deal.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Pelicans were Derrick Favors‘ preferred destination once it was clear the Jazz were moving him, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Utah needed to trade Favors in order to accommodate the Bojan Bogdanovic signing.
  • Former Rockets center Zhou Qi plans to play in Europe next season, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Zhou has not yet picked a team.
  • Milos Teodosic will make slightly over €5MM during his three-year contract with Virtus Bologna, Carchia passes along in a separate piece. Teodosic last played for the Clippers during this past season.

Lowe’s Latest: Walker, Brogdon, Mavs, Rubio, Butler

The Celtics might be the frontrunner for Kemba Walker‘s services but devoting most of their cap space to the All-Star point guard would leave them without any proven frontcourt players and limited ways to acquire them, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in an in-depth look at free agency. The addition of Walker would force coach Brad Stevens to use either Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum or Gordon Hayward at power forward, Lowe notes. Walker also ran more pick-and-rolls with the Hornets than Kyrie Irving did with the Celtics, yet Irving was sometimes accused of being a ball hog, Lowe adds.

Here are some other interesting tidbits from Lowe’s column:

  • Bucks restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon will lose a suitor if the Celtics ink Walker. The Suns, Bulls, Mavericks and Pacers could potentially extend Brogdon an offer sheet but some teams are concerned about his foot issues.
  • The Mavericks are not looking to sign any high-level free agents.
  • The Pacers are looking to make a run at point guard Ricky Rubio. They are also likely to let power forward Thaddeus Young walk and go with a frontcourt of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Indiana rejected trade offers for Turner at the draft.
  • The Heat could get involved in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes via a sign-and-trade.
  • The Nets have no interest in doing a sign-and-trade with the Timberwolves involving restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell if it means taking back Jeff Teague or Andrew Wiggins.

Pacers Rumors: Oladipo, Bitadze, Turner, Young

Speaking on Thursday night to reporters, including J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard acknowledged that the team isn’t expecting to have Victor Oladipo ready to go to start the 2019/20 season. Oladipo continues to recover from the torn quad tendon he suffered in January.

“I’m hopeful that he’s going to be back in December, January,” Pritchard said of Oladipo. “To put a true timeline is not really fair.”

Here are several more Pacers notes worth passing along:

  • First-round pick Goga Bitadze will join the Pacers right away rather than being stashed overseas, Michael writes. “Of any of the guys we’ve drafted in the last few years, I think he’s more polished and ready to play in an NBA game than a normal kid coming out of college,” Pritchard said of the Georgian center.
  • While the Pacers are committed to playing Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis together, with one of the two at power forward, the team will have trade options available, Michael writes. Multiple league sources have told Michael that no one on Indiana’s roster is really untouchable, though he doesn’t expect the team to move Turner, as he tweeted prior to the draft.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic remains the Pacers’ top priority in free agency, while Thaddeus Young appears less likely to be retained, per Michael.
  • Pritchard expects to be active in free agency as the Pacers look to fill out their roster, Michael relays. “We’ve got a lot of holes to fill. We’re going to have a lot of money to go out into the marketplace,” Pritchard said. “July 1 is going to be where the real dirty work starts. We got to make some hay in free agency.”
  • More from Pritchard, via Michael: “We’ll try to be a good team next year. We’re not going to go young and try to start at the bottom. We want to win again.”

Team USA Announces 20-Player Camp Roster For World Cup

USA Basketball has officially announced the group of 20 players that will participate in training camp this summer in advance of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The camp will take place from August 5-9, and will be used to select the 12-man roster for this year’s World Cup in China.

The 20-man training camp roster is as follows:

  1. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  2. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  3. Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
  4. Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  5. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  6. James Harden (Rockets)
  7. Tobias Harris (Sixers / FA)
  8. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  9. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  10. Brook Lopez (Bucks / FA)
  11. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  12. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  13. CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers)
  14. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  15. Paul Millsap (Nuggets)
  16. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  17. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  18. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  19. P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
  20. Kemba Walker (Hornets / FA)

“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.

“I’m appreciative of commitment that our National Team players continue to make, and the eagerness of the new players to become involved,” Popovich continued. “Selecting a 12-man team will be extremely difficult.”

It will be an eventful summer for many of the players on the 20-man Team USA training camp roster. Besides Harris, Lopez, and Walker, who are all headed for unrestricted free agency and could be on new teams by August, players like Barnes, Middleton, and Millsap could reach the open market if their player or team options are declined. Others – including Davis, Gordon, Kuzma, Tatum, and Tucker – have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Kuzma and Mitchell are the only players on the roster who haven’t played internationally for Team USA in the past. Five player on the roster (Barnes, Davis, Harden, Love, and Lowry) have won gold medals for USA Basketball at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, while two others (Drummond and Gordon) have taken home gold at previous World Cups.

Previous reports indicated that Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley are expected to be among the players named to a 10-man select team that will scrimmage with Team USA’s 20-man roster at the training camp in August.

Central Notes: Gilbert, Turner, McMillan, M. Williams

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert won’t be involved with the team’s draft preparations as he continues to recover from a stroke, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Gilbert is still in a Detroit-area hospital, and Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner issued a statement today suggesting that the recovery might be lengthy.

“Dan’s recovery is a process that will take time — but we are all confident that he will meet this challenge head on as he always does,” Farner wrote.

Sources tell Fedor that Gilbert has already approved an aggressive spending plan if GM Koby Altman believes it’s necessary to improve the team. That includes taking back a sizable contract to get rid of J.R. Smith, who was exiled from the team after playing just 11 games this season. Cleveland owns picks No. 5 and 26 in the draft and will reportedly try to buy into the second round.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Competing for a spot on Team USA for the FIBA World Cup tournament will give Pacers center Myles Turner another shot to gain recognition after being left off the All-Defensive team, notes Scott Agness of The Athletic. Turner led the league in total blocked shots with 199 and blocks per game at 2.7, but didn’t receive first- or second-team honors. Two of Turner’s teammates, Lithuanian center Domantas Sabonis and Canadian guard Cory Joseph, will be in China for the tournament.
  • Pacers coach Nate McMillan was slated to be an assistant to Gregg Popovich on Team USA, but he withdrew after Indiana was scheduled for a trip to India in early October, Agness adds in the same piece. The World Cup title game is September 15, and McMillan wants to focus on his NBA responsibilities. “My first priority is the Pacers,” he said. “I committed to USA Basketball before I got the schedule next season for us.”
  • Former Heat guard Matt Williams was invited to a free agent mini-camp with the Pistons, tweets Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Williams appeared in three games as a two-way player for Miami during the 2017/18 season before playing this year in Finland and Greece. Forward Marc Loving, formerly of Ohio State, also received an invitation (Twitter link). He played in the G League this season.

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2018/19 season, with Jazz center Rudy Gobert once again coming in as the leading vote-getter.

Gobert, a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, was listed on 99 of 100 ballots, with 97 of those ballots giving him a First Team vote, for a total of 196 points (two points per First Team vote; one point per Second Team vote). The All-Defensive nod ensures that the big man receives a $500K bonus, which had been considered likely since he was named to an All-Defensive team last season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Gobert was closely followed by fellow Defensive Player of the Year candidates Paul George (Thunder) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), who received 195 and 193 total points, respectively.

[RELATED: NBA Announces 2018/19 All-Rookie Teams]

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday secured a $100K bonus by earning a spot on the All-Defensive Second Team, notes Marks (via Twitter). Like Davis, he was an All-Defensive player last season as well, so that bonus had been considered likely — his cap hits for this year or next won’t be impacted by him earning it.

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team:

Second Team:

Raptors guard Danny Green actually totaled 66 points, including 19 First Team votes, while Clippers guard Patrick Beverley had 48 points (14 First Team votes). However, All-Defensive teams are determined by position, so they didn’t make the cut because they ranked fifth and sixth in voting among guards.

Pacers center Myles Turner (39 points), Rockets forward P.J. Tucker (38), Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (24), and Spurs guard Derrick White (15) were the other leading vote-getters.

You can find the full voting results right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Giannis, Dragic, Heat, Pacers

The Celtics picked up their defensive intensity to seal an impressive Game 1 road win over the Bucks on Sunday, swarming the paint and putting an emphasis on slowing down Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo’s primary defender, Al Horford, recorded three blocks (two of which were on him). The Celtics as a whole held the Bucks to just 35% shooting from the floor, including a 7-for-21 performance from Antetokounmpo. Boston’s energy drained Milwaukee, leading to the dominate 112-90 win.

“They were loading [the paint] a lot,” Antetokounmpo said, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “Lots of guys in the paint. Whenever I got in the paint, when I spin or try and change direction, the second guy was right there.

“I’ve just gotta go watch tape. If they are going to play like this the whole series, I have to be able to make the right pass, trust my teammates to knock down shots.”

For Horford and the Celtics, containing Antetokounmpo was the game plan entering Game 1. The next challenge for Boston is dealing with Milwaukee’s adjustments entering Game 2 on Tuesday night.

“I just think that our group, we all understood how we needed to defend and how dangerous he is once he gets it in the paint,” Horford said of Antetokounmpo. “So constantly tonight, we had a couple of breakdowns, but for the most part, I feel like everyone was very aware. Our guards really did a good job of helping and closing down lanes and things like that, and we just wanted to challenge and contest every shot as best we could.”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • The Heat could wait it out with Goran Dragic entering the final season of his contract, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. Dragic will decide in the coming weeks whether to exercise his $19.2MM player option for next season, though Winderman notes it wouldn’t be beneficial for the team to extend him on a cheaper, multi-year deal that cuts into future cap space. Should Dragic opt into his player option, he’d become an unrestricted free agent in July of 2020.
  • Miami has a long way to go before achieving star status in the East, Winderman writes in a separate article for The Sun Sentinel. The Heat essentially have the same roster situation they did a year ago (minus the fact that Dwyane Wade has retired), leaving more questions than answers about the organization entering this summer. The team is coming off a disappointing 2018/19 season that saw them finish at 39-43, the sixth worst record in the conference.
  • The Pacers would be smart to consider trading one of Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis this summer, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star opines. Indiana was swept by Boston in the first round of the playoffs this spring, failing to effectively play without injured star Victor Oladipo.

Central Notes: Bucks, Turner, Lopez, Kennard

The Bucks enjoyed a pivotal year in 2018, with a new coach, a new building, a roster upgrade and the emergence of an MVP candidate, writes Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As a result, the franchise finishes the calendar year with the NBA’s best record at 25-10.

“This is not a Bucks team that’s trying to compete for mediocrity,” GM Jon Horst said. “We’re not happy and satisfied with just making it into the playoffs, even though that’s always a great accomplishment in its own right. I hope that they see it’s a team led by a young superstar in Giannis (Antetokounmpo) that has high character and wants to win at the highest level with great people throughout the organization from the top down.”

Mike Budenholzer took over as head coach in May and the team added several shooters over the offseason to fit his philosophy that emphasizes the 3-pointer. The team drafted Donte DiVincenzo and signed free agents Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez and Pat Connaughton.

“It’s amazing,” Antetokounmpo said. “Got a new building, a new facility, a new head coach, a new system, everybody’s having fun, new atmosphere – it’s been amazing. … Moving on to 2019, I hope we can do big things and accomplish big things with this team.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers center Myles Turner suffered a broken nose in today’s game and will be fitted for a mask tomorrow, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. “The hope is that he doesn’t have a concussion,” coach Nate McMillan said. “He can play with a mask.”
  • Bulls center Robin Lopez believes coach Jim Boylen has won over the players after some initial resistance, relays Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago has put together a 5-8 record since he took over for Fred Hoiberg earlier this month. ‘‘I think we kind of are seeing some results,’’ Lopez said. ‘‘I do think we’re making progress. It feels like guys have bought in and are playing together in this system.’’
  • After a DNP last Wednesday, the PistonsLuke Kennard studied some film to help fix his shot, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Kennard has hit 63% from the field and 44% from 3-point range over the last two games and is back in the mix for minutes at small forward.