James Johnson

Pacers Re-Sign James Johnson

Following the expiration of his second 10-day contract with Indiana on Wednesday night, veteran forward James Johnson has re-signed with the Pacers, the team announced in a press release.

As expected, veteran point guard Cory Joseph was waived to open up a spot on the 15-man roster for Johnson. Indiana acquired Joseph from Golden State along with $5.68MM in cash earlier in the day.

Johnson has now signed four separate contracts with Indiana since the 2023/24 season began. He originally inked a non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract on December 15, but was waived to accommodate the trade for Pascal Siakam a month later. Johnson returned to the Pacers on a pair of 10-day contracts and now that he’s ineligible to sign another 10-day pact, has finalized a rest-of-season deal with the club.

Johnson, who will turn 37 later this month, doesn’t see much action for the Pacers, having logged just 24 total minutes across five appearances so far this season. However, he’s a valued veteran presence in the locker room and brings some toughness and physicality to a relatively young team.

A prorated minimum-salary contract for Johnson will pay him $1,230,816 the rest of the way and will count toward Indiana’s cap for $777,703.

The Pacers now have a full 15-man roster, but they’re expected to open up a spot by waiving Furkan Korkmaz, who was acquired from Philadelphia on Thursday.

James Johnson Signs Second 10-Day Contract With Pacers

11:30am: Johnson’s new 10-day contract is official, the Pacers announced (via Twitter).

9:26am: The Pacers will sign veteran forward James Johnson to another 10-day contract, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The signing was confirmed to Wojnarowski by Johnson’s agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports.

Johnson didn’t see any game action during his first 10-day deal, which expired on Sunday, but he has appeared in five games for Indiana this season with four points, four rebounds and five assists in limited playing time. He signed a standard contract with the Pacers in mid-December after they reached a buyout agreement with Daniel Theis, but was waived on January 17 when the team needed to open a roster spot to complete the Pascal Siakam trade. Johnson rejoined the team two days later upon clearing waivers.

A 15-year NBA veteran, Johnson first came to Indiana before the start of last season. He has appeared in 23 total games during that time, but has mostly served as a veteran leader in the locker room.

Once Johnson’s second 10-day contract becomes official, the Pacers will be back to a 14-man roster, giving them one opening heading into the trade deadline. Teams are limited to two 10-day deals with a player during a season, so Indiana would have to sign Johnson to another standard contract to keep him for the rest of the season.

Pacers Sign James Johnson To 10-Day Contract

The Pacers have re-signed veteran forward James Johnson, but this time he’ll receive a 10-day contract instead of a rest-of-season deal, the team announced in a press release.

Indiana waived Johnson a couple days ago in order to create roster space to acquire fourth-year guard Kira Lewis, who was immediately flipped to Toronto as a salary-matching piece for two-time All-Star Pascal Siakam.

The Pacers had two open 15-man roster spots after sending out three players (Bruce Brown and Jordan Nwora were the others) for Siakam — one of those spots will be going to Johnson.

The move was expected, as Tony East of SI.com reported shortly after Johnson was released that the team planned to bring him back if he cleared waivers.

Inking Johnson to a 10-day contract will give Indiana roster flexibility in the event of more trades ahead of the February 8 deadline. As our tracker shows, the 15-year veteran is the sixth player to sign a 10-day deal this season.

Technically, the Pacers are paying Johnson twice right now, as his previous contract was guaranteed after he remained on the roster through the cut-down deadline earlier this month. The dead money cap hit for that deal is about $1.4MM.

Johnson, who has played for 10 different NBA teams, averaged 4.8 minutes per game across five appearances in 2023/24. The 36-year-old played 18 games for the Pacers last season.

His on-court contributions have been modest the past two seasons, but clearly the Pacers value Johnson’s leadership and professionalism, which is why they keep bringing him back.

Pacers Waive James Johnson

As expected, the Pacers have officially waived veteran forward James Johnson, the team announced in a press release.

Indiana needed to open a roster spot to acquire Kira Lewis Jr. from New Orleans. Lewis — along with Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora and three first-round picks — will then be sent to Toronto in a separate deal for Pascal Siakam.

According to Tony East of SI.com (Twitter link), the Pacers hope to re-sign Johnson, assuming he clears waivers in a couple days. After the three-for-one trade is complete, Indiana will have two open roster spots.

Interestingly, Johnson was waived as part of a blockbuster trade last year as well, but the Pacers re-signed him a few days later. It sounds like that will be the case again in 2024.

If he clears waivers and becomes an unrestricted free agent, the Pacers will owe Johnson about $2.2MM — the prorated version of the veteran’s minimum — while the team will carry a $1.4MM cap hit, according to Spotrac. The 36-year-old signed a one-year deal with Indiana last month after going unsigned over the offseason, which is why his salary is prorated.

Johnson, who has played for 10 different different NBA teams, averaged 4.8 minutes per game across five appearances in 2023/24. He played 18 games for the Pacers last season.

While he hasn’t contributed much on the court the past two seasons, the Pacers clearly value Johnson’s leadership and professionalism, which is why they keep bringing him back.

Pacers Finalizing Trade For Pascal Siakam

The Pacers and Raptors are finalizing an agreement on a trade that will send star forward Pascal Siakam to Indiana, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

The deal, whose framework was previously reported by Shams Charania and Jake Fischer, will send Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, and three first-round picks to Toronto, according to Wojnarowski. The Pelicans will also be involved, Wojnarowski notes, with fourth-year guard Kira Lewis headed to the Raptors.

Earlier reporting indicated that Indiana would likely include either Jalen Smith or Obi Toppin in their package for salary-matching purposes. However, by acquiring Lewis from New Orleans using their cap room, the Pacers will be able to immediately aggregate his salary with Brown’s and Nwora’s, making him the missing matching piece. As a result, the “three-team” deal will technically consist of two separate trades, ESPN’s Bobby Marks confirms (via Twitter).

The three first-rounders going to Toronto will be the Pacers’ own 2024 pick, a second ’24 first-rounder (via Oklahoma City), and Indiana’s 2026 pick, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The 2024 pick from OKC will be the least favorable of the Thunder’s, Clippers’, Rockets’, and Jazz’s first-rounders. The 2026 pick will include top-four protection, according to Charania (Twitter link).

In the Pelicans/Pacers swap, New Orleans will receive cash from Indiana and will send a second-round pick to the Pacers, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez and Wojnarowski (Twitter link). That will be a 2024 selection, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.com, which means it’ll be the least favorable of the Pelicans’ and Bulls’ second-rounders.

The blockbuster deal is the culmination of several months of trade rumors involving Siakam. He was also at the center of speculation over the 2023 offseason, at which time the Raptors reportedly spoke to the Hawks and others about the two-time All-Star. The Mavericks, Warriors, Pistons, and Kings are among the teams that have been linked to him in recent weeks.

After getting a limited return for Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade deal in 2021 and then losing Fred VanVleet for nothing in 2023 free agency, the Raptors were more proactive this season in moving key players on expiring contracts ahead of February’s trade deadline. Toronto sent OG Anunoby and two other players to New York at the end of December in exchange for Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, and a second-round pick.

The Pacers reportedly made an effort to acquire Anunoby before the Knicks landed him, but Siakam had been at the top of their wish list for over six months, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. While the Raptors were believed to be seeking a return headlined by a young player or two – like the one they got from the Knicks for Anunoby – Indiana was able to get the deal done with a pick-heavy package that didn’t include recent lottery selections Bennedict Mathurin or Jarace Walker.

By virtue of being traded, Siakam will no longer be eligible for a super-max contract in the event he makes an All-NBA team for a third time this season. Additionally, he won’t be able to sign an extension of more than two years with Indiana prior to free agency, since a longer-term extension deal isn’t permitted for six months after the trade.

However, the 29-year-old is excited to join the Pacers and is expected to be “eager” to figure out a new contract with the team this summer, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The Pacers will hold his Bird rights, giving them the ability to offer up to five years once he becomes a free agent. They’ll have plenty of financial flexibility to make Siakam a part of the long-term core alongside star point guard Tyrese Haliburton.

“I’m excited that Pascal is getting a first class opportunity with the Pacers, being paired with Tyrese and Myles (Turner) and being coached by a great coach in Rick Carlisle,” Siakam’s agent Todd Ramasar said in a statement to Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link). “His future there looks bright there.”

The Raptors will now control at least two first-round picks in the 2024 draft, along with an early second-rounder from the Pistons that currently projects to be 31st overall. They traded their own ’24 first-rounder away to the Spurs in last season’s Jakob Poeltl deal, but it has top-six protection, so it’s not a lock to change hands — Toronto’s 15-25 record is tied for the sixth-worst mark in the NBA.

It’s unclear what Toronto’s plans are for Brown, who played an important role on the Nuggets’ championship team last season and could be a popular target for contenders on the trade market in the coming weeks.

Brown is on a pseudo-expiring $22MM contract — he has a $23MM club option for 2024/25, so if he remains a Raptor, the club could create in excess of $30MM in cap room by declining that option, notes Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Nwora ($3MM) and Lewis ($5.7MM) are also on expiring deals.

While the Pacers’ 2023/24 team salary will increase beyond the cap once they officially acquire Siakam, the Raptors and Pelicans will gain significant cap relief. After being only slightly under the luxury tax line prior to the trade, Toronto will have about $9MM in breathing room below that threshold, tweets cap expert Yossi Gozlan.

New Orleans, meanwhile, will move from above the tax line to about $2.8MM below it, Gozlan adds (via Twitter). That will give the Pelicans – one of two NBA teams to never pay the tax – more room to operate on the trade market or in free agency in the coming weeks.

The Pacers will have to waive a player in order to acquire Lewis from New Orleans. Veteran forward James Johnson will be that roster casualty, per Tony East of SI.com (Twitter link). The Raptors, who currently have one open spot on their 15-man roster, will also need to make a cut in order to accommodate their three-for-one deal with Indiana.

Both the Pacers and Pelicans will end up with 13 players on standard contracts once the two trades are completed. Teams aren’t permitted to carry fewer than 14 players on standard deals for more than 14 days at a time, so both clubs will have two weeks to re-add a 14th man.

Central Notes: Crowder, Pacers, J. Johnson, Osman

Bucks forward Jae Crowder is nearing his return after being sidelined since tearing his left adductor muscle in a November 11 game, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Crowder underwent surgery three days later and has been steadily increasing his activity level, with three five-on-five practice sessions upcoming this week.

“I did have a set target to get to this point,” Crowder said, “and I pushed myself to get to this point and took care of my body and tried to do the things I needed to do while I’m away from the medical staff, while I’m at home doing the little stuff that I needed to do to get myself back to where I need to be.”

Crowder had been dealing with an adductor issue since the first week of training camp, so the surgery eliminated the pain he was playing through in the early part of the season. He hopes to return soon to boost Milwaukee’s defense, which currently ranks 22nd in the league. He’ll spend some practice time with the G League Wisconsin Herd as he works his way back, and although a target date hasn’t been set, Crowder believes he’ll know when he’s ready.

“I just want to get back to feeling what I want, what I need to feel,” he said. “I think ultimately that I’ll be better. I think I’ll be better than I was before pre-injury, honestly. Just taking on the challenges of what we need to do, like helping these guys, taking on that matchup of stopping the best offensive player. I think I’ll be much better off than I was before and I felt like I was doing a decent job at it before.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers are interested in “just about every starting power forward possible,” Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports said in an interview with The Trade Deadline (video link), adding that Indiana was pursing OG Anunoby before Toronto traded him to the Knicks. Fischer confirms that Buddy Hield is available after he failed to reach an extension with the team last summer, but says the Pacers have “pretty much rebuffed any teams’ interest in T.J. McConnell.”
  • The Pacers were hoping to re-sign James Johnson after last season, but they didn’t have an open roster spot until they reached a buyout agreement with Daniel Theis in mid-November, per Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (subscription required). “We had talked about it really since the exit meetings last year,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “With the moves that were made early in July, we were gonna have 15 guaranteed contracts. Just weren’t sure about bringing him into camp and then having to cut him if it was going to be that kind of situation.”
  • After being traded to the Spurs last summer, Cedi Osman still has fond memories of Cleveland, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Osman will make his return to the city on Sunday as his new team takes on the Cavaliers. “They really do care about their sports teams, with the Guardians, the Browns, the Cavs,” Osman said. “I always felt their support during games, even during a bad stretch. In my second and third year when we were kind of rebuilding, they were supporting us no matter what.”

Pacers Notes: Johnson, Team Meeting, Haliburton, Nembhard

James Johnson never considered retirement, even as he went through free agency without an offer and started the season without a team, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Johnson’s patience was rewarded on Friday when he signed a one-year deal with the Pacers. Teammates were thrilled to welcome back the 36-year-old forward, who was a valuable contributor for Indiana last season even though he only appeared in 18 games.

“Just the professionalism,” T.J. McConnell said. “You don’t play 15 years in this league without being a great basketball player, but the professionalism you show day in and day out and how you go about things on and off the court is what he brings. He’s big at teaching the young guys. Not many people in this league are as good of people as him and we definitely missed him.”

Coach Rick Carlisle told Dopirak that the Pacers have been considering a move with Johnson for at least two weeks. Carlisle and other team officials traveled to Johnson’s Miami home on December 1 when Indiana was in town for a pair of games.

“He helped us so much last year,” Carlisle said. “This year we started with 15 guys. When Daniel Theis moved on to the Clippers in the buyout situation, it opened up a spot. You see if the need for the spot and if anything else is going to happen. But we talked to him on the Friday between games, had a really good meeting with him and told him it was very much under consideration.”

There’s more on the Pacers:

  • In a separate story, Dopirak examines why Indiana often comes up short against the league’s worst teams, including Friday’s loss at Washington. There was a team meeting earlier this week about potential trap games, but the Pacers failed to heed the warning as they were badly outplayed by the Wizards, who were on a six-game losing streak coming into Friday. “It’s just the characteristics of a young group,” Tyrese Haliburton said. “Playing to your competition. Every team in the NBA is good, but there’s some games we’re going to look back and say, ‘Damn, we probably should’ve got that one.’ We’ve gotta grow up as a group at some point. It starts with us as players, us as a first group and me as a leader. We’ve just gotta be better.”
  • Haliburton is listed as questionable for tonight’s game at Minnesota with a left knee bruise he suffered Friday, Dopirak tweets. “I’m fine, I’m just banged up a little bit,” Haliburton said. “There was a little wet spot on the floor. I landed on my hip, that’s fine, but me and Bilal (Coulibaly) went knee to knee, so just a little sore right now.”
  • Andrew Nembhard feels like he “dodged a bullet” with the right knee bone bruise he suffered in the in-season tournament semifinals, per Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (subscriber only). Nembhard is considered week-to-week and he’s thankful that the injury wasn’t worse.

Central Notes: Cavs, Mitchell, DeRozan, Pacers, Johnson, Bucks

After the Cavaliers‘ 51-win 2022/23 season came to a disappointing end with an unceremonious exit in the first round of the playoffs, that momentum appears to have carried over to this fall, with the team off to a 13-12 start. However, speaking to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com, star guard Donovan Mitchell rejects the idea that the postseason letdown in the spring left a lasting mark on the team.

“I think we came back motivated,” he said. “We’ve got guys who came back ready to go. I think it motivated us, but, you know, it’s not showing it. That’s the tough part. But I’m not deflated. We’ve got to figure this thing out. That’s it. That’s all you can really do. Find ways. That’s it. It’s tough obviously, you know, winning a few, losing a few, but we’re not going to quit. We’re going to keep going.”

Mitchell also said that he believes the Cavaliers have the pieces to be a contender and that it’s just a matter of getting everyone on the same page. But Mitchell’s conversation with Bulpett occurred on Thursday, and the challenge facing the team got a lot tougher on Friday, when word broke that both Darius Garland and Evan Mobley will be sidelined until well into the new year due to injuries.

Earlier today, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported that the Cavaliers had shown no inclination to make Mitchell available via trade despite the “mounting interest” of rival teams. It’s unlikely that stance has changed in the past few hours, in spite of the Garland and Mobley news, but it’ll certainly be worth keeping a close eye on how the situation in Cleveland plays out in the coming weeks to see how the club responds.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan is “deeply valued internally,” according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, who says the organization appreciates the veteran not just for his skills on the court but for his leadership off of it. The team has similar feelings about Alex Caruso, Johnson adds.
  • A recent report indicated that the Bulls and DeRozan are far apart in extension talks and suggested that the forward is a trade candidate in the final year of his contract. For what it’s worth though, DeRozan has expressed a desire to stay where he is. “Chicago is Chicago to me,” he told Julia Poe of The Chicago Tribune. “I love it here. Obviously it’s a place I want to be in my career. None of that has changed. I don’t have no other type of doubts or feelings or suggestions to be elsewhere. That don’t cross my mind.”
  • Following a run to the play-in tournament final, Tyrese Haliburton spoke about his hope that seeing how the Pacers play will make impact players want to join him in Indiana. With that in mind, Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star considers what sort of moves the Pacers could make by February’s deadline and what their best trade assets might be.
  • James Johnson‘s new one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Pacers is non-guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Johnson will receive his full salary ($2,241,188) if he remains under contract beyond January 7.
  • The chippy, hard-fought nature of Wednesday’s victory over the division-rival Pacers, which culminated in an argument over the game ball, may have helped the Bucks build a stronger bond, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. “When stuff happens, whether it’s extremely serious or it’s small, any time you can get into something and you can look over and see people got your back and they’re with you, it changes things,” Damian Lillard said. “… I think (Wednesday), for our team, it was just a step in that direction where we kind of — we were with each other, so I’m not saying that’s going to make us the world’s greatest, but it was a step in the right direction.”

Pacers Sign James Johnson To One-Year Deal

DECEMBER 15: The Pacers have officially signed Johnson, the team announced today in a press release.

DECEMBER 14: The Pacers are signing free agent forward James Johnson to a one-year contract, agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), the Pacers had an open roster spot after reaching a buyout agreement last month with Daniel Theis, so no corresponding move will be necessary to add Johnson.

Johnson, 36, has played for 10 different teams and is now in his 15th NBA season. He spent the 2022/23 campaign with Indiana, appearing in 18 games while averaging 2.8 points and 1.7 rebounds in 9.0 minutes per contest. Johnson was waived in February as part of the Kevin Durant blockbuster trade (due to a roster crunch), but the Pacers re-signed him a few days later.

The timing of the move is interesting and perhaps not a coincidence. The Pacers and Bucks had a postgame altercation over the game ball on Wednesday night after a chippy contest between the two Central Division teams. Johnson is known for being one of the toughest players in the league, and head coach Rick Carlisle praised his veteran leadership last season.

“Very important for us,” Carlisle said. “… He’s contributed so much to our situation just in terms of setting examples, mentoring, being very positive, being very truthful. He has a really strong reputation in this league as a great competitors, as a very tough guy. Those kinds of things. He’s been a difference maker so it’s great to have him back on board.

Indiana’s roster will be full once the move is official.

Pacers’ Pritchard Won’t Commit To Hield Extension Offer

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard is noncommittal about offering wing Buddy Hield an extension, according to Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star.

Hield is entering the final year of his four-year, $94MM contract. The cap hit on his contract for 2023/24 is approximately $19.3MM. The Pacers will have to decide whether to pursue an extension, trade him or allow his free agency to play out next summer.

“He’s under contract for another year, so we don’t have to early extend,” Pritchard said. “We could. … I think we’ve got to define his role next year. If we can get a role where he’s comfortable and we’re comfortable, then I’m not opposed to it. I’m not saying we’re going to do it for sure, but I’m not opposed to it.”

Hield had a solid season, averaging 16.8 points per game while making 42.5% of his 3-pointers and 51.8% of his 2-pointers. He’s also a positive locker room influence and is close with franchise player Tyrese Haliburton, which could increase the possibility of an extension.

“I love Buddy,” Pritchard said. “There’s some things he does that are not on the court. He keeps practice light.”

Pritchard also touched a couple of other major topics regarding offseason plans:

  • Indiana will hold five draft picks in June, including three first-rounders. The Pacers will also have approximately $25MM in cap space. Pritchard said he’ll be open to wheeling and dealing to improve the roster. “I think there’s some opportunities for us to look at our draft picks and cap space and maybe put a bunch together and make big packages and go after some players,” he said. “I can’t say for sure that’s gonna get done. But I want to be really creative with how we go after the right players.”
  • Regarding the team’s three free agents — forwards Oshae Brissett and James Johnson, and guard George Hill — Pritchard’s interest in re-signing them hinges on what happens during the draft and the early days of free agency. “Those are guys we’ll be looking at, but with all these draft picks and cap space, they’re not July 1 deals, they’re July 10,” Pritchard said. “I’m not trying to cop out on the question. I just don’t think we get to that decision tree until later on. I don’t want to hurt or help them or give them false hope or tell them no.”