T.J. McConnell

Central Notes: Pistons Contracts, McConnell, Allen, Bulls

The Pistons‘ three-year deal with Kelly Olynyk has a partial guarantee in year three, with only $3MM of the big man’s $12.2MM salary assured in 2023/24, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Detroit also gave Trey Lyles a two-year, $5.125MM deal that includes a second-year team option, Smith adds (Twitter link).

While those contract details are similar to what was reported earlier in free agency, the specifics on the Pistons’ deals for Saben Lee and second-round pick Isaiah Livers didn’t surface until today.

According to Smith (Twitter link), the Pistons used cap space to give Lee a three-year, minimum-salary contract that includes two fully guaranteed years followed by a third-year team option. As for Livers, his new deal with Detroit is also for three years with a third-year team option, tweets Smith. The No. 42 pick got slightly more than the rookie minimum in his first year, followed by the veteran’s minimum in years two and three.

Here’s more from around the Central:

Pacers Re-Sign T.J. McConnell To Four-Year Deal

AUGUST 6: The Pacers have officially re-signed McConnell, announcing the transaction in a press release.

“We are very pleased to re-sign T.J. McConnell,” Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement. “This franchise and our fan base knows what T.J. brings to this team: leadership, tenacity and an insatiable desire to win. T.J. has arrived at this point in his career with hard work, patience and overcoming doubters. But he never doubted in himself. He was undrafted and it takes a special kind of player to not only overcome that obstacle, but to turn it into what will likely be a long NBA career. That is a testament to what kind of work ethic and competitive fire T.J. has.”


AUGUST 2: The Pacers and point guard T.J. McConnell have agreed to terms on a contract that will keep him in Indiana for the foreseeable future, reports J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link).

The deal will be worth $35MM over four seasons, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Michael adds that the final year will only be partially guaranteed (Twitter link).

McConnell averaged career highs in PPG (8.6), APG (6.6), RPG (3.7), and FG% (.559), among other categories, for the Pacers in 2020/21, appearing in 69 games and logging 26.0 MPG. His contributions also go beyond the box score, as he’s a heady player and a tough perimeter defender.

The 29-year-old had been expected to draw interest from teams in need of point guard depth, but there was always mutual interest between him and the Pacers.

Indiana had been considered more likely to re-sign McConnell than fellow free agent Doug McDermott, and that’s exactly what happened, as McDermott is San Antonio-bound.

Hollinger’s Latest: CP3, Knicks, Fournier, Bulls, Rose, Pacers, More

There was talk last week that the Pelicans would be a serious suitor for Chris Paul in free agency, but that chatter seems to have faded, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who says the veteran point guard is now widely expected to re-sign with the Suns.

As Hollinger explains, he heard the Suns’ initial offer to Paul when the two sides were discussing a possible extension was somewhat “underwhelming,” but the club now appears prepared to offer a more serious package. No one around the league will be surprised if the total value of Paul’s new deal gets up to $100MM or more, Hollinger adds.

Here are several more free agent rumors from Hollinger:

  • Amidst rumors that Evan Fournier‘s price tag may be too high for the Celtics‘ liking, Hollinger suggests that the Knicks may be the team preparing to make an aggressive offer to the free agent wing. Hollinger adds that it’s worth keeping an eye on Mitchell Robinson and the Knicks, since a renegotiate-and-extend deal is a possibility for the two sides. That sort of agreement would give Robinson a raise for 2021/22 and lock him up for multiple seasons.
  • If the Bulls don’t land Lonzo Ball, one of their backup plans may be offering Derrick Rose a deal in the neighborhood of $12MM per year, says Hollinger.
  • Hollinger’s sources expect T.J. McConnell to stick with the Pacers for a deal worth around – or slightly above – the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.9MM), but the competition for Doug McDermott will be fiercer and Indiana will face tax issues if the team wants to re-sign both players without trimming salary elsewhere.
  • If Richaun Holmes‘ presumed suitors – such as Charlotte and Toronto – end up using their cap room in other ways, he might be squeezed in free agency, allowing the Kings to re-sign him despite only holding his Early Bird rights. If that scenario plays out, Hollinger expects Holmes to sign a two-year deal with a player option so that he can hit the open market again in 2022 with full Bird rights.
  • There hasn’t been much free agent chatter surrounding Nuggets guard Will Barton or Trail Blazers Norman Powell, according to Hollinger, who writes that teams seems to be assuming those two players will remain with their respective clubs.
  • It has been tricky to figure out what the Spurs plan to do with their projected cap room, says Hollinger. Daniel Theis is the most prominent free agent target Hollinger has heard linked to San Antonio.

Pacers Rumors: Turner, Lamb, Brogdon, Ball, FAs

Plenty of trade speculation has swirled around the Pacers heading into the 2021 offseason, but a league source tells J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required) that a “seismic” change to Indiana’s roster is unlikely.

One player whose name has popped up frequently in trade rumors during the last year or two is Myles Turner, and teams haven’t slowed their efforts to land the rim-protecting big man. According to Michael, the Knicks have gotten more aggressive lately in their pursuit of Turner — they aren’t the only club trying to trade for Turner, but they appear to be making the strongest push as of late, Michael says.

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • With lottery pick Chris Duarte expected to step into a role on the wing, the Pacers are interested in moving Jeremy Lamb, reports Michael. Lamb, who was limited to 36 games last season due to injuries, is on a $10.5MM expiring contract.
  • The Pacers have had discussions about whether Malcolm Brogdon is the answer at point guard, according to Michael, who writes that the team also talked about possibly pursuing Lonzo Ball. However, Ball doesn’t seem to be a serious option for Indiana at this point, Michael adds.
  • T.J. McConnell and Doug McDermott both have interest in returning to the Pacers, but McConnell wants security (ie. a multiyear deal) and McDermott may get too pricey for the team. As he’s previously reported, Michael notes that McConnell is more likely than McDermott to re-sign with the Pacers.
  • Michael points to Avery Bradley, Lou Williams, Will Barton, and Garrett Temple as some free agents who may appeal to Indiana.

Free Agent Notes: McConnell, McDermott, Theis, DeRozan, Oubre

The Pacers are more likely to retain T.J. McConnell than Doug McDermott in free agency in August, according to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required). Michael suggests that Indiana is likely to re-sign McConnell, but will probably lose McDermott due to his “escalating price tag” following a career year.

If the Pacers bring back McConnell, it may affect what the team does with Aaron Holiday. According to Michael, the 24-year-old point guard – who is entering the final year of his rookie contract – has been hoping for a change of scenery since the 2021 trade deadline, so he could emerge as a trade candidate again this offseason.

Here are a few more notes related to free agency:

  • Chatter around the NBA suggests that Daniel Theis will be seeking a “big payday” in free agency, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, who suggests the veteran center may not be back with the Bulls.
  • Appearing on the Club Shay Shay podcast (video link), Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan said that his free agency decision will be “all about winning.” Asked by host Shannon Sharpe what that means for his salary expectations, DeRozan admitted he’d like to be well-compensated too, but said he feels more urgency to compete for a title as he enters his age-32 season.
  • Speaking to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Kelly Oubre didn’t offer many specific details about his plans for free agency, but hinted that a new deal with the Warriors may not be his top priority. “I want to continue to expand my game, grow and spread my wings. I want to continue to show all the things I’m capable of and not be put in a box,” Oubre said. “I felt like the universe was trying to put me in a box last year.”

Central Notes: Mobley, Rose, Bulls’ Draft, McDermott, McConnell, Carlisle

Drafting Evan Mobley with the No. 3 pick wouldn’t necessarily mean the Cavaliers would let restricted free agent Jarrett Allen walk, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. The USC big man is widely considered one of the top four prospects in the draft, and sources tell Fedor the Cavs believe he could thrive at the four or the five, so he should be able to share the frontcourt with a center like Allen. Mobley could also slide over to the middle in some lineups, and his versatility would provide head coach J.B. Bickerstaff with more flexibility.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls ought to consider re-signing unrestricted free agent Derrick Rose, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago opines. Rose is coming off a strong season and if he’d be willing to accept some or all of their mid-level exception, it would energize the fan base.
  • The Bulls don’t have a first-round pick but they’re approaching the draft with the idea that they could seize an opportunity to move into the first round, Johnson adds. They were also a presence at the combine, searching for a diamond in the rough with the No. 38 overall pick.
  • Re-signing unrestricted free agents Doug McDermott and T.J. McConnell is a major focus for the Pacers this offseason, coach Rick Carlisle said on Tuesday, per Scott Agness of FieldhouseFiles.com (Twitter link). “The priority is to get the new staff in here, work towards good health as much as we can, try to get McConnell and McDermott re-signed if we can do that,” Carlisle said.
  • Carlisle has yet to officially sign his contract but he plans to do so when he arrives in Indiana on July 5. He’s eager to work with the roster and find ways to make the current group better, according to Agness (Twitter links). “Whatever players are presented to me by management or ownership, I really take a great deal in pride and love the challenge of molding that group into the right kind of system,” he said.

Cavs Rumors: McConnell, Caruso, Hart, Love, Hartenstein

Length, athleticism, versatility, and shooting are the traits that the Cavaliers will be prioritizing as they consider potential roster moves this offseason, Chris Fedor writes in a mailbag for Cleveland.com. A secondary ball-handler will be at or near the top of Cleveland’s wish list, whether that player is a point guard or a play-making wing, Fedor adds.

The Cavaliers don’t project to have cap room this summer, but intend to be “aggressive” with their mid-level exception, which should be worth nearly $10MM. Free agent point guards T.J. McConnell and Alex Caruso will be among the team’s top targets, according to Fedor. Both will be unrestricted free agents and are tough defenders who could be attainable with the MLE.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • One of the free agents Fedor mentions as a possible target for Cleveland is Josh Hart. Fedor, who notes that Hart is one of Larry Nance Jr.‘s best friends, hears from sources that the Pelicans wing may be seeking a fresh start. However, Hart is eligible for restricted free agency, so the Pelicans will have the ability to retain him if they so choose.
  • Addressing the Kevin Love situation, Fedor says that some people in the front office view the idea of waiving and stretching Love’s remaining salary (two years, $60MM) as a non-starter. There have also been no buyout talks so far, according to Fedor, who gets the impression that the Cavs would only be open to going down that path if Love initiates those discussions and gives up enough salary to make it worthwhile.
  • Fedor confirms Michael Scotto’s report that Cavs big man Isaiah Hartenstein will likely turn down his player option in the hopes of signing a multiyear deal with Cleveland.
  • The 2021/22 season isn’t viewed as a “playoffs-or-bust” year by Cavs leadership, but everyone feels the team will need to show “discernible on-court progress and take a few steps forward” in the fourth year of its rebuild, says Fedor. In a separate article for Cleveland.com, Fedor suggests that historical precedents show the Cavs’ rebuild is on schedule.

Pacers’ Pritchard Talks Bjorkgren, Frontcourt, FAs, More

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said no decisions have been made yet on the future of head coach Nate Bjorkgren, as J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star writes. Bjorkgren isn’t the only one whose future is up in the air, according to Pritchard, who pointed out that his own performance is still being evaluated by team ownership as well.

“I’m being evaluated. I’m being evaluated every day,” Pritchard said. “(Pacers owner) Herb (Simon) has to decide if I’m fit for this job and what I need to improve on. Then Nate and I will have a long conversation over many days on what he needs to improve on. … He is our coach as of now and I’ll have a fair discussion with him.”

The Pacers’ president of basketball operations acknowledged that Bjorkgren’s first year on the job was far from perfect. While Pritchard liked Bjorkgren’s handle on X’s and O’s, he said that the first-year coach did have a tendency to micromanage. Still, Pacers players didn’t express during their exit meetings that they were unhappy with Bjorkgren, Pritchard added.

Pritchard also pushed back against the idea that the Pacers hadn’t adequately done their homework on Bjorkgren before hiring him last summer, as Michael tweets.

We probably did 15 interviews around Nate,” Pritchard said. “We knew that he’s very specific in the way he likes things. We knew that. You got to give a coach some flexibility to do what he likes to do.”

Here’s more from Pritchard’s end-of-season presser:

  • Pritchard remains convinced that the Pacers can succeed without moving one of Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis (Twitter link via Michael). We like them both,” Pritchard said of the frontcourt duo. “They can definitely play together. You can stagger them.
  • Pritchard referred to Doug McDermott and T.J. McConnell as “core to what we’ve done” (Twitter link via Michael). Both players will be unrestricted free agents this summer, but it sounds like there’s mutual interest in continuing those relationships.
  • Although Pritchard stressed that the Pacers won’t be desperate to make deals this summer, he said he’d prefer not to get stuck in the “middle ground” between contending and rebuilding. I want to get in or get out,” Pritchard said, according to Michael (Twitter links). “Out means getting picks (and revamping the roster).”
  • Pritchard referred to the Pacers’ defense as “by far the most important thing that we have to take a look at,” as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. It remains to be seen whether that means addressing the personnel or the coaching staff and schemes.
  • Caris LeVert is one Pacer who has yet to have his exit meeting with team management, since he remains in isolation due to the COVID-19 protocols and wants to conduct his meeting in person (Twitter link via Agness).

Pacers Notes: Warren, McConnell, Bjorkgren, Stanley

Pacers forward T.J. Warren, who missed all but four games this season due to a stress fracture in his left foot, discussed his lost 2020/21 season, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files details. “I just know it can’t storm forever and the sun has to come out,” Warren said of his extended rehab process. Warren has one year and $12.9MM remaining on his current contract after this season.

Warren also had harsh words in response to a report claiming that he was had requested a trade because he was at odds with embattled head coach Nate Bjorkgren.

“Seeing that report was really, really terrible,” Warren said, adding that Bjorkgren has been “nothing but a great guy” since becoming the Pacers’ head coach. “Not cool.”

There’s more out of Indianapolis:

  • Pacers reserve point guard T.J. McConnell appears hopeful about returning to Indiana as he reaches unrestricted free agency during the 2021 offseason, tweets J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star. “I would love to be back here,” McConnell said. “I absolutely love it here. … I don’t have a bad thing to say about anything or anyone.” McConnell signed a two-year, $7MM deal with Indiana in the summer of 2019.
  • The Pacers are not expected to make an immediate decision on the future of head coach Nate Bjorkgren, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. A report detailing locker room tensions surfaced earlier this month that appeared to put Bjorkgren’s long-term fate in doubt. “My focus is on the players right now,” Bjorkgren himself responded when asked about the situation earlier this week. “And I’m not thinking about myself, I’m really not. I want to do what’s best for these guys.” The Pacers lost Thursday’s play-in game to slide out of the postseason and into the lottery during Bjorkgren’s first season at the helm.
  • Following his rookie season, Pacers first-year shooting guard Cassius Stanley will play in the Summer League, scheduled for this August in Las Vegas, tweets Agness.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Central Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Central Division:

T.J. McConnell, Pacers, 28, PG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $7MM deal in 2019

McConnell delivered one of the rarest triple-doubles in NBA history this week. He became the first player to record a point-assist-steal triple-double since Mookie Blaylock in 1998 when he racked up 16 points, 13 assists and 10 steals against Cleveland on Wednesday. He also had a 17-point, 12-assist outing against New York on Saturday.

McConnell isn’t a 3-point threat, but he’s been maximizing his skills as one of Indiana’s top reserves this season, averaging a career-best 6.8 APG. He’s a good fit with the Pacers but he’ll attract interest from other teams as a solid second-unit floor general.

Saben Lee, Pistons, 21, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $449K deal in 2020

Lee was selected with the 38th overall pick in the draft and signed a two-way contract. He’s taking advantage of some unexpected playing time and showing he’s worthy of a spot on the 15-man roster. With Killian Hayes and Delon Wright sidelined by injuries, Lee has provided a spark off the bench behind recently-acquired Dennis Smith Jr. In Detroit’s last two victories, Lee had a 21-point, 4-assist performance against Orlando and a 20-point, 7-assist outing against Toronto. He needs to become more of a perimeter threat but he’ll fearlessly attack the basket and he’s endeared himself to the coaching staff with his work ethic.

Jarrett Allen, 22, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $10MM deal in 2017

With the awkwardness of sharing the center spot with Andre Drummond behind him, Allen has settled in as the Cavaliers’ main man in the middle. In 17 starts at center this season, Allen is averaging 16.2 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.2 APG and 1.7 BPG while shooting 69.5% from the field. It’s well-known that Cleveland has every intention of re-signing Allen as he enters restricted free agency. The intrigue will come if one of the teams with ample salary-cap space delivers a giant offer sheet. In any case, Allen will become a very rich man this summer.

Thaddeus Young, Bulls, 32, PF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $43.6MM deal in 2019

Young has a partially-guaranteed $14.19MM salary next season. He’ll get $6MM for sure; he’s giving the Bulls plenty of incentive to hand him the remaining $8.19MM and keep him off the free agent market. Young has been one of the best reserves in the league this season, providing the Bulls with a steady finisher at the rim (career-best 60.9% from the field) and plenty of rebounding. Coach Billy Donovan has turned Young into a playmaker and he’s embraced that responsibility, averaging a career-high 4.4 APG. If the Bulls opt to trade Young this month, they’ll get a decent haul in draft picks and/0r young players.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.