After Sabonis extension, these Pacers have time to grow together

Do you like the look of the current Pacers roster? Because the majority of this team could be in Indiana for awhile after Kevin Pritchard and the front office agreed to an extension with Domantas Sabonis less than two hours before today’s deadline.

It was a bit of a surprise development after rumors that the Pacers were at least listening to offers for their young center this past week and Sabonis seemed unhappy and a little frustrated with the situation after practice on Saturday.

Bobby Marks of ESPN had reported that Myles Turner extension amount of $72 million was seen as a “non-starter” by Sabonis’s agent, so it seemed he was looking for much more than the terms that ended up being agreed upon.

Sabonis’s contract extension is for four years and $74.9 million according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, just a shade larger than Turner’s deal signed last year at about this same time. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that with bonuses the deal can reach up to $85 million. This amount won’t start until next season as he plays out the last season of his rookie contract in 2019-20.

With Sabonis under contract for the next five seasons, he joins many Pacers that are in long-term deals with the team:

  • Turner is under contract for the next four years.
  • Malcolm Brogdon just signed a 4-year, $85 million deal this summer.
  • T.J. Warren has three years left on the deal he originally signed with the Phoenix Suns.
  • Jeremy Lamb just agreed to a 3-year deal with the Pacers.
  • Young prospects Aaron Holiday, Goga Bitadze and Edmond Sumner all also have at least three years remaining on their deals.

That makes eight players under contract through at least 2021-22. The oldest player on this list is just 27 years old.

Obviously, the one gigantic missing name from this list is Victor Oladipo, who has two years left on his deal. Re-signing Sabonis could be a huge step in the right direction for keeping Oladipo in the long term (who has shown no signs of wanting to leave but those things can always change fast) as he seems to have a special connection with Sabonis as they were essentially traded together twice and nearly have the same birthday.

Even with Sabonis’s new deal, the Pacers can sign Oladipo to a max contract when the time comes while comfortably avoiding the luxury tax at least according to current projections (h/t to Tony East of Forbes and The Fieldhouse [check out this new Pacers website with great content and great people writing it]).

If things go well for Sabonis and Turner and they can successfully play together (still a big if), this team could have a real chance to build chemistry and grow together as a unit over the next three years and beyond. That’s an exciting prospect after some fun seasons but short-term rosters.

The Sabonis extension also gives the team more time to see if the pairing can work. Now, they’ll be able to wait until Oladipo is fully healthy before making a final determination about their young centers. With both players on very reasonable contracts, either could still be traded down the line if that’s what needed to happen.

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