Thaddeus Young

Thaddeus Young Strongly Considering Free Agency

Pacers forward Thaddeus Young is strongly considering the possibility of opting out of his contract and becoming an unrestricted free agent next month, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.

Young holds a $13.7MM option on his contract and has until June 29th to exercise it.

By opting out, Young could land a long-term deal in the prime of his career, Wojnarowski continues. His ability to guard multiple positions would make him valuable on the open market.

Yet it’s very possible that Young will wind up with a lower salary next season if he goes into the free agent market in exchange for long-term security.

The Pacers could try to work out a contract extension with Young, Wojnarowski adds. He averaged 11.8 PPG and 6.3 RPG this past season for Indiana, which pushed the Cavaliers to seven games during the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

After the team was eliminated, Young expressed high hopes for Indiana’s future. “Man, I think the sky is the limit for us,” he said. “As a team, we’re already pretty good, but I think we’ll be so much better entering next season because we’ll all have another year of experience under our belt and we won’t be a new-look team that just got together anymore.”

The 6’8” Young, who will celebrate his 30th birthday this month, has been in the league since 2007. He’s also played for the Sixers, Timberwolves and Nets.

Pacers’ Pritchard: We Hit Jackpot With Oladipo

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard lavished praise on Victor Oladipo and revealed he consulted the team’s current star on potential moves, Dakota Crawford of the Indianapolis Star relays. Pritchard’s comments were made during radio interviews with ESPN’s Dan Dakich and CBS Sports Radio’s Kent Sterling. Pritchard said Oladipo changed the organization after being acquired from the Thunder in the Paul George deal last summer, not only with his breakout season but with his personality.

We feel like we hit the jackpot,” Pritchard said. “No offense to Paul George, he’s having success and he’s going to go wherever he wants this offseason …”

Pritchard texts regularly with Oladipo and indicated he’d ask for the guard’s input on future decisions. Pritchard began doing that at the trade deadline.

“We looked at two or three deals. Two of them were just OK. But one of them, we really looked at. We went to Victor … he said some things, and we (kind of decided to leave it on the table).”

In other nuggets from the interviews:

  • Pritchard said he’d like to retain forward Thaddeus Young, who has a player option on his contract. “He didn’t talk a lot in the locker room, but when he did it was powerful. Thad was amazing. We hope he comes back.”
  • Pritchard hinted he wasn’t interested in pursuing George in free agency. Front office executives aren’t allowed to speak specifically about opposing players. “One of the things we’re about, we don’t care about big names, we don’t care about big personalities we don’t care about big brands. What we care about is being humble … Anybody that fits in, yeah, we’re interested … But if they don’t fit that, I’m not interested. It’s that simple.”
  • Pritchard liked the way the contracts of Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic worked out and indicated he might take the same approach this offseason. Both were signed to two-year deals with a team option. “We think big, but the challenge is, if we lose a lot of our pieces to go big … are you better off with a couple major players, or are you better off with a really good group of players that don’t make the $30 million? That (instead) make the $10 or $12 million.”

Central Notes: Pistons, T. Young, Free Agents, Bucks

If the Pistons are going to make changes to their coaching staff or front office, they will probably happen in the next 10 days, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Preparation for the draft begins to intensify with the lottery on May 15, followed by the opening of the combine two days later. The Pistons will want to have their management issues resolved by then, even though their first-rounder is headed to the Clippers without some lottery luck.

GM Jeff Bower met with majority owner Tom Gores on Thursday, Ellis adds, amid reports that structural changes are being considered to the front office. Bower and coach/president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy, who also met with Gores this week, are both entering the final year of their contracts.

Ellis speculates that the longer the situation drags on, the less likely it is that Van Gundy returns for another season. He notes that Gores is unhappy about the way the team has managed its salary cap, particularly with generous contracts for role players Jon Leuer [four years, $42 million] and  Langston Galloway [three years, $21 million].

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Watching the Eastern semifinals has been a painful experience for Thaddeus Young and his Pacers teammates, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. The Indiana players are still reeling after dropping a tough seven-game series to the Cavaliers, and they believe they could be on their way to the conference finals if they had gotten by Cleveland. Young adds that he hasn’t decided whether to opt out of a $13,764,045 salary for next season, but he believes the Pacers are headed for even better things. “Man, I think the sky is the limit for us,” he said. “As a team, we’re already pretty good, but I think we’ll be so much better entering next season because we’ll all have another year of experience under our belt and we won’t be a new-look team that just got together anymore.”
  • The Pacers need to add a 3-point shooter in free agency, observes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, who examines potential targets for this summer. Indiana should have roughly $10MM to spend, even if Young opts in, which could be enough to land Wayne Ellington, Joe Harris or Marco Belinelli.
  • The Bucks are in position to trim some money from their roster heading into free agency, according to Fox Sports Wisconsin. Brandon Jennings [$2,222,803], Tyler Zeller [$1,933,941] and Malcolm Brogdon [$1,544,951] all have non-guaranteed contracts for next season, although Brogdon, a former Rookie of the Year, is expected to be brought back.

Pacers Notes: Sabonis, Turner, Young, Offseason, Pritchard

With the Pacers eliminated from the postseason, the focus turns to next season and how the team can improve. With several roster options to consider during the offseason, the Pacers figure to weigh the pros and cons of potentially starting both Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, Mark Monteith of NBA.com examines.

While neither player is a finished product, both possess attributes that helped Indiana this season. Turner is a good three-point shooter and shot blocker, whereas Sabonis is the better rebounder and mid-range shooter. Although neither player is a traditional center or power forward, team president Kevin Pritchard believes that both Turner and Sabonis can help the team if they are on the floor together.

“Players who play with each other a couple of years, they know where they’re going to be,” Pritchard said. “That makes the game come slower. Domas, the game already comes slow. He can make reads. Myles, he gets a little frantic. And that makes a difference. He’s got to calm down a little bit.”

Check out more Pacers notes below:

  • Both Cory Joseph and Thaddeus Young, who have options in their contracts, could leave Indiana this offseason. However, during his end of season media session, Pritchard indicated that both men expressed interest in returning during their exit meetings, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star writes. Since then, a report has indicated Joseph will pick up his option.
  • Pritchard addressed several aspects of the Pacers’ season in his media session, including the team’s somewhat improbable run to the postseason, roster, and impending offseason decisions, NBA.com’s Mark Monteith writes. “In my 26 years (in the NBA) I’ve never been around a team that brought it like they did this year. They had each other’s backs,” Pritchard said.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN Insider (subscription required) looked at the Pacers’ impending decisions this summer. Marks examines whether Turner should be signed to a long-term deal, whether the Pacers will keep their roster together, and more.

Pacers Notes: Young, Offseason Outlook, Barton

As we relayed earlier today, Cory Joseph will opt in to his contract for next year, leaving Thaddeus Young as the only Pacers player with a decision to make on a player option for next season. J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star reports that GM Kevin Pritchard indicated in exit meetings that both Joseph and Young would like to return. As it turns out, he was correct on his assessment of Joseph, and we’ll soon find out whether Young will join Joseph in exercising his player option for 2018/19 worth about $13.8MM.

Michael opines that Young will likely opt out of his salary for the opportunity to sign a long-term contract, while Bobby Marks of ESPN estimates that a starting salary for Young on the open market would likely fall short of his salary for next season should he choose to opt in. Per Marks, Young will need to determine whether the future financial security of a long-term contract with a lower annual salary outweighs earning a higher salary for one season. Ultimately, Marks thinks Young will opt in, leaving the Pacers right at the salary cap come this summer.

There’s more out of Indianapolis:

  • Pritchard and the Pacers face an important offseason this summer, writes Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star. Gone are the days when the Pacers can sneak up on opponents with their new-found success, with head coach Nate McMillan saying, “We won’t go under the radar, so to speak, next season.”
  • Mark Montieth of Pacers.com takes a look at the options facing Pritchard and the Pacers’ front office this offseason. The overarching question that must be answered is whether Indiana will risk their new-found positive locker room culture by bringing significant new players or leave the status quo and rely on improvement from young players such as Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis.
  • As we touched upon a couple of weeks ago, one potential free agent target for the Pacers could be Nuggets swingman Will Barton, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Central Notes: Bucks, Doncic, Pacers

As we relayed yesterdayBucks’ interim head coach Joe Prunty is still a candidate to retain Milwaukee’s head coaching position. However, as we also indicated, former Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer is just one name circulating as a possible replacement for Prunty, with the Bucks planning to conduct an open and active search for their next head coach.

According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Bucks would be wise to move on from Prunty and seek a head coach who can do a better job of inserting franchise cornerstone Giannis Antetokounmpo into a superstar role. Per Deveney, the Bucks have failed to do so to this point in Antetokounmpo’s young career, and it is negatively affecting both Antetokounmpo and the team.

Deveney mentions Budenholzer, former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, and former Cavaliers coach David Blatt as worthwhile candidates for the position, but ultimately opines that whoever the Bucks hire, he needs to be able to formulate an offense that runs through Antetokounmpo, creating mismatches and finding options for when teams double team him.

Deveney also touches on what he deems disappointing seasons from role players Tony Snell, Thon Maker, and Matthew Dellavedova, as well as the upcoming free agency of former No. 2 overall pick, Jabari Parker. Deveney feels that the best case scenario for the Bucks, although highly unlikely, is a total lack of suitors for Parker, thereby opening the door for the Bucks to potentially sign Parker to a one-year deal at the value of his qualifying offer.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Regardless of how the Bucks plan on approaching Parker’s free agency, at least one teammate is extremely confident that the former Duke star is not leaving Milwaukee (story).
  • As one part of a 10-part series focusing on the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft, Marc Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago argues that the Bulls should select Luka Doncic if he is available when Chicago makes its selection in June, as his elite-level passing ability is a perfect fit for today’s fast-paced NBA game.
  • Fresh off a heartbreaking loss to the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the teams’ first round series, the Pacers should be excited about their promising future, writes Michael Marot of The Associated Press. As Marot notes, the Pacers could have their top eight players all back next year if Thaddeus Young and Cory Joseph exercise their player options and the Pacers exercise their team option on fan favorite Lance Stephenson.

Central Rumors: Ayton, Lue, Young, Jackson

DeAndre Ayton should be the Bulls’ selection if they win the lottery, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports argues. The Arizona big man is unquestionably the best prospect in the draft and the top center available since Karl-Anthony Towns, Strotman continues. His offensive game is more developed than any big man over the last decade outside of Anthony Davis, Strotman adds.

Also around the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue showed a lack of trust in the newcomers acquired by GM Koby Altman at the trade deadline during Game 4 against the Pacers, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report points out.  During the final six minutes, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr. were mostly spectators as Lue went with holdovers from previous playoff runs. “It was a close game down the stretch,” he told the media afterward. “So I wanted my veterans, the guys that I know.”
  • Pacers power forward Thaddeus Young has been quietly efficient in the series against the Cavs, as Mark Monteith of Pacers.com notes. He’s shooting 56% from the field and leads them in rebounding, blocked shots, steals and deflections through the first four games. Young has a $13.76MM option on the final year of his contract next season.
  • It’s crucial that point guard Reggie Jackson stay healthy next season for the Pistons to get into the playoffs, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Jackson battled a knee injury throughout the 2016/17 season after missing the first month, then suffered a severe ankle sprain this season that kept him out for nearly three months. “It’s about getting healthy once again in the offseason and getting back to training,” Jackson told Beard. “I just want to be healthy again.”

Central Notes: Jackson, Booker, Griffin, Blakeney

The return of Reggie Jackson has Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy feeling optimistic about the team’s future, as Ansar Khan of MLive.com details. Detroit is 3-1 since Jackson returned from a severe ankle sprain that cost him nearly three months of action. The addition of a starting point guard to go along with the big man duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond makes the Pistons a dangerous team going forward, in Van Gundy’s mind.

“He was healthy his first full year here and we won 44 games and we didn’t have nearly the talent around him then that we do now,” Van Gundy told Khan and other media members. “And then last year he had to come back in the middle of the season [due to tendinitis in his knee] and then this year he started off and we were 19-14. We know, it’s been demonstrated. If we can keep him healthy, we got a chance to be really good.”

In other news from around the Central Division:

  • The Pacers will have to address the power forward spot even if Thaddeus Young opts in this summer, Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports opines in a mailbag column. Trevor Booker, whom the team recently signed as a free agent, could be an option, Agness adds. Booker is averaging 5.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 17.4 MPG over 10 games since joining Indiana.
  • Griffin sees similarities between joining the Pistons and getting drafted by the Clippers, as he explained to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. “For me, it was a cool challenge,” Griffin said of his Clippers experience. “I want to go there and be a part of something. Luckily, I was able to do that. I look at [Detroit] the same way. This is a franchise that has a history of winning a championship and they have an identity as a franchise. This is a place where I want to help get this franchise back to where it was and where it deserves to be.”
  • Two-way player Antonio Blakeney believes he established himself as an NBA player before the Bulls guard fractured his wrist, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. He averaged 7.9 PPG in 16.5 MPG in 19 appearances with Chicago. “I definitely think I showed a little bit of what I can do,” Blakeney said. “I have a lot more to show. I didn’t get to play many games this year.”

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Indiana Pacers

The Pacers are in an enviable position mere months after it seemed like they were doomed to a long and challenging rebuild. The breakout seasons enjoyed by Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis have helped distract from the absence of Paul George while the all-around contributions of an unheralded, cohesive veteran lineup has put Indiana firmly in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The Pacers didn’t make a major splash at the trade deadline and were even asked specifically by players to avoid tinkering with the chemistry in the locker room. While it’s hard to argue that the franchise made the wrong call standing pat with a roster that’s punched above its weight on a nightly basis, the Pacers have a long road ahead of them before they’re considered serious challengers, even in the East.

It’s refreshing to see a team build anew without bottoming out. Solid drafting and some responsible payroll management will help them climb to the next rung on the ladder.Cory Joseph vertical

Cory Joseph, PG, 26 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $29.9MM contract in 2017
Joseph has thrived as the younger half of a point guard tandem charged with the task of helping the Pacers play a faster style of basketball. While he’s ceded the majority of the starts so far this season to Darren Collison, Joseph is a solid rotation piece and possible future starter. It’s likely we’ve already caught a glimpse of his ceiling, so the former Raptors probably won’t draw major money on the open market. That being said, it’s hard to imagine he couldn’t procure a raise if he turns down his 2018/19 player option worth just less than $8MM.

Glenn Robinson III, SF, 24 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM contract in 2015
After breaking into Indy’s rotation in 2016/17, an ankle injury put Robinson III’s latest campaign on hold until after the All-Star Game. The Pacers may see some upside in the former second-round pick, and likely won’t have to outbid many competitors to retain his services should they wish to do so. Assuming the swingman’s health holds up in the final stretch of 2017/18, expect the club to lock him in for at least a few more seasons at an affordable rate. At this stage in the game, the Pacers can justify the low-risk, medium-reward lottery ticket.

Lance Stephenson, SG, 27 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $12.6MM deal in 2017
While Stephenson’s career took a turn for the worse after he flew the coop in 2014, his return to Indiana has helped restore his value as a professional basketball player. The 27-year-old may not be the irreplaceable triple-double machine the Hornets hoped he would be when they poached him from Indiana four years ago, but he’s a solid rotation piece whose contributions to the Pacers franchise are both mysterious and intangible. Expect the club to bring their enigmatic swingman back on his dirt-cheap $4.4MM team option.

Joe Young, PG, 26 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $5.1MM deal in 2015
The Pacers have never seemed particularly intent on working Young into their rotation. While you could argue that a consistently competitive squad like Indiana may be inherently reluctant to throw big minutes at an inexperienced point guard, he only topped the 20-minute plateau four times during his first two years in the league. The 25-year-old has seen an uptick in usage since Collison went down with a knee injury in early February, but the club may be better off turning down his team option and seeing what else they could do with the roster spot.

Thaddeus Young, PF, 30 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $53.9MM deal in 2015
Young has established himself as a critical component of this Pacers team and fills the role of do-everything veteran forward admirably. While the almost-30-year-old’s services would be welcomed by several other contending teams, it’s hard to imagine Young’s camp being all that confident they’d land more than $13.8MM in a bear market. If Indiana was knee deep in the turbulent rebuild many expected, it would make sense for Young to take that chance, but given that the opposite is true, I anticipate him accepting the 2018/19 player option and returning as a leader on and off the court.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacers Notes: Young, Sabonis, Turner, Future

While many saw the Thunder’s acquisition of Paul George for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo as a heist for the ages, Pacers forward Thaddeus Young has a differing viewpoint, Jim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star writes.

Sabonis posted 16 points on perfect 7-for-7 shooting in Wednesday’s season-opener against the Nets. Indiana defeated Brooklyn 140-131 and Young — after watching Sabonis’ performance — feels the team made out well in the trade.

“Honestly,” Young said, “I think we stole him from them.” 

Sabonis, selected 11th overall by the Magic last season, was acquired by the Thunder in a draft night deal with Orlando. He did not see as much improvement as he would have liked last season, averaging 5.9 PPG and 3.6 RPG in 81 games. However, playing for the rebuilding Pacers will give him that opportunity. Whether or not Sabonis can have a George-like impact on Indiana remains to be seen.

Check out other news surrounding the Pacers:

  • Pacers center Myles Turner has been diagnosed with a concussion, the team announced. He missed yesterday’s game against the Trail Blazers and will miss tonight’s contest in Miami against the Heat.
  • Pacers owner Herb Simon discussed a succession plan for the team once he is no longer in charge of the team, Gregg Doyle of The Indianapolis Star writes. Simon’s 53-year-old son, Steve, is likely to take over the team. He also spoke in-depth about the future of the team, including his thoughts on Paul George’s departure.