Thaddeus Young

Pacers’ Pritchard Talks Offseason, Young, McMillan

The Pacers‘ free agent shopping for 2018 is all but over, with the team having used up its cap space on Doug McDermott and Tyreke Evans before committing its room exception to Kyle O’Quinn. While the team may make some tweaks around the edges of its roster, it won’t be able to offer more than the veteran’s minimum to any more free agents.

With his roster for 2018/19 nearly set, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard spoke to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star about this summer’s free agent signings, an increased focus on three-point shooting, and several other Pacers-related topics. The conversation is worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights from Pritchard:

On considering making a trade during last month’s draft:

“We had a couple of guys that we really liked in the draft and to move up we were going to have to take on some contracts. Some teams wanted to get off contracts. We were able to move up but it would’ve taken us completely out of free agency. What happens is you evaluate what you think can happen on July 1 in free agency, which you have no clue, or do you move up and get a young guy that’s up and coming? As we analyzed it, what we felt like was important was this team last year made a jump like we weren’t expecting. We wanted it to be a good team, but adding a really good rookie (chosen higher in the draft) is a good thing but sometimes that’s a future’s play.”

On Thaddeus Young‘s decision to exercise his player option:

“We were thrilled because we wanted to keep that starting five in place. Now we’ve kept the top seven guys (from last year’s team) in terms of minutes played and adding a few players that we feel like could come off our bench to be effective. Thad means everything to us. The continuity of that, what he brings in the locker room — it feels like we over-talk about that stuff — but it’s important. We know what Thad is. He’s going to be a great leader and he’ll have a heck of year. I have no doubt.”

On the contract status of head coach Nate McMillan, who is entering the final year of his deal:

“We’re talking right now. We value what he’s done. We understand how important he is and we’ll have conversations over the summer with him.”

On what it will take for a star free agent to seriously consider the Pacers:

“If we win a series or get a little deeper into the playoffs with our flexibility, that’s our ultimate goal. A good core we believe in and then ultimately some flexibility to go after something like that. We may not get him, but you have to at least try. For me, having some success on the court, having our players enjoy the way we play and winning, that’s the best thing Indiana can provide. If you want to come, have success, have a chance to win in the playoffs, we can provide that.”

Central Notes: Robinson, Pacers’ Plans, Thomas, Bucks Cap

The addition of swingman Glenn Robinson III filled the Pistons’ biggest need this offseason, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. The Pistons didn’t anticipate an early commitment but a phone call from new coach Dwane Casey as the start of free agency helped to seal the deal with the ex-Pacers wing. Robinson received a two-year, $8.3MM contract. “We didn’t expect we would get Glenn that quickly,” senior advisor Ed Stefanski said. “We felt getting the two-year commitment was huge to us. To find a young wing who can make a shot, they’re hard to find in the league. When the opportunity came up that quickly, we felt we had to make a move. If it wasn’t for him, we would still be out there looking for a guy.”

In other news involving Central Division teams:

  • Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard hopes to use a majority of next summer’s cap space on his own free agents, Mark Monteith of Pacers.com reports. Rotation players Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Tyreke Evans could all be free agents next summer, which would free up as much as $57MM in cap space, Monteith notes. But Pritchard would prefer to use most of the money to re-sign some of those players, as he told Monteith. “We have the season like we want to have, our free agents will be the priority,” he said. “I think this team has a chance to grow this year. … We already know these guys. They become our priority in free agency.”
  • Rookie second-round pick Khyri Thomas could get playing time with the Pistons through his defensive prowess, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. The swingman out of Creighton views himself as a defensive specialist. “When I was younger, I didn’t get the ball a lot playing with older people so I just stole the ball to get it,” he told Beard.
  • The addition of center Brook Lopez gives the Bucks 13 guaranteed contracts for next season but they’re still $15MM away from being hard-capped, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Lopez reportedly agreed to a one-year deal on Sunday. Milwaukee still has to deal with restricted free agent Jabari Parker‘s status, as he remains unsigned, but they could gain more flexibility since the contracts for Tyler Zeller and Brandon Jennings are not guaranteed, Marks adds.

Thaddeus Young Exercises Player Option

Pacers’ forward Thaddeus Young has exercised his $13.7MM player option and will bypass free agency this summer, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Young, 30, strongly considered becoming a free agent this offseason, but given the lack of cap space around the NBA, is opting to remain in Indiana for at least another season after averaging 11.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in 81 contests during the 2017/18 campaign.

The Pacers, who could still enter free agency with as much as $20MM in salary cap space, were reported earlier today to have interest in restricted free agent Aaron Gordon. However, Gordon is apparently seeking the maximum salary, so the Pacers likely won’t have the cap space to accommodate the type of offer Gordon is seeking absent a roster move or two.

After Young’s decision, the top-remaining player option decisions now belong to LeBron James, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, and Enes Kanter. Those four players have until tomorrow to make a decision.

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.”