Here we take a look at upcoming free agents this summer and look at the possibility of the Pacers pursuing the player; today, it’s Dante Exum.
The Indiana Pacers put a close to a past poor free agency decision today by waiving Monta Ellis according to various media outlets.
Ellis still had 2 years and $22.9 million left on his 4 year, $44 million contract, but the second year is voided because of a strange quirk to his contract that eliminates his player option if he’s waived before the end of the 2017-18 regular season.
David Aldridge reports that the Pacers will use the stretch provision to spread his remaining salary out over five years, so the Pacers will gain nearly $9 million in cap space this season, but lose a little over $2 million in space for the next four years.
The Pacers were rumored to be trying to clear cap space earlier in the day for Kelly Olynyk, though the reasons remain unclear as the Pacers already have too many bigs on the roster.
We’ll have to wait and see what Kevin Pritchard does with his new found cap space.
Ellis struggled during his two years with the Pacers as his skills seemed to rapidly deteriorate. He scored his lowest points per game totals since his rookie season in each of his two years.
The Indiana Pacers are rumored to be among interested teams for Kelly Olynyk after the center became an unrestricted free agent when the Boston Celtics renounced his rights after Gordon Hayward decided to come to the Celtics.
Olynyk, 26, averaged 9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2 assists for the Celtics last season playing 20 minutes per game. Woj reports that many teams are showing interested now that he’s an UFA.
It’s the third big man the Pacers have been rumored to be interested in this offseason after Taj Gibson (who signed with the Wolves) and Willie Reed (still a free agent).
The Pacers roster is already packed with power forwards and centers so more moves will be likely if they sign any of these players.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (that still feels weird to type) reports that the Pacers and free agent point guard Darren Collison have agreed to a 2-year, $20 million contract in principle.
Collison will either step into the starting lineup or backup Lance Stephenson at the point guard position. The deal is short at only two years, with a partial guarantee on year two, so it doesn’t affect the future cap space the Pacers will have while they rebuild.
Collison, 29, played for the Pacers for two seasons early in his career before being included in a sign-and-trade deal that brought Ian Mahinmi to the Pacers after Collison lost his starting job to George Hill, who the Pacers were also rumored to be interested in bringing back, during the previous season.
Last year, Collison averaged 13.2 points and 4.6 assists per game for the Sacramento Kings. He also has been suspended in the past for domestic abuse and plead guilty to the charge.
Indianapolias native Jeff Teague and the New York Knicks have mutual interest now that Phil Jackson and his Triangle offense are out of the picture per ESPN’s Ian Begley.
Yesterday, there was a report that Teague would be interested in coming back to his hometown team, but it’s unclear if the Pacers will be looking to re-sign him as they contemplate whether or not to rebuild.
The Knicks had tried to trade for Teague in the past while he was still a member of the Atlanta Hawks.
Teague had arguably his best season in the NBA last year with the Pacers as he averaged 15.3 points and 7.8 assists per game.
Kevin Pritchard said in his post-draft press conference that the Pacers have options with Paul George trades that could put them in a position to rebuild around young players or could keep them in the playoff race with established veterans.
These two options also give two contrasting plans for free agency. Today, we’ll look at players that the Pacers should look at if they choose to go with a George trade that gives them youth and development. The Pacers won’t be going after free agent targets in “win-now” moves like Jrue Holiday and Danilo Gallinari that they were rumored to be interested in before the George news broke in this rebuilding scenario.
Those types of veterans aren’t going to be looking to join a rebuilding team, and the Pacers will be looking to give as many minutes as possible to their young players with little care about how many games they end up winning next season.
So what kind of targets should the Pacers be pursuing?
Players that are young and cheap. Players that haven’t been given much of an opportunity in the NBA so far in their careers, whether that’s a D-League (now G-League) All-Star or a young player that’s been riding the bench in the NBA. Players that are former high draft picks that fizzled out elsewhere. The Pacers should be looking for guys that you hope can turn into valuable assets or at least rotation-level players with more opportunity and playing time. Lots of low-risk, high-reward potential players, diamonds in the rough, sleepers, whatever you want to call them.
The Pacers have had success with taking fliers on these type of players in the past with Glenn Robinson III, who played briefly with both the Wolves and Sixers in his rookie season.
Here’s some options for the Pacers to consider that would fit the bill:
(Note: The Pacers generally avoid RFAs so I will too. Besides, if teams can match potential deals, it’s unlikely their current team will let them go on cheap deals anyway.)
Age: 27 Stats: 5.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.7 blocks in 15 minutes per game
Willie Reed was fighting to get into the NBA for years in the D-League before finally getting an opportunity with the Brooklyn Nets two seasons ago. He declined his $3 million player option with the Miami Heat after signing a 2-year deal last offseason. In five games as a starter, Reed averaged 14.8 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Age: 26 Stats: 6.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists in 15 minutes per game
Clark had his best season as a pro with the Warriors last year with his first consistent rotation spot. He shot 37% from 3-point range.
Age: 22 Stats: 4.3 points, 0.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists in 11 minutes per game
The 6’3″ point guard Ennis found a 3-point shot for the first time in his career last year shooting 39% and played fairly well for the Lakers over 22 games to end the season. The former first-round pick shot 45% from the field with LA and scored in double figures in seven of his final 10 games.
Age: 26 Stats: 6.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists in 18 minutes per game
Muscala shot 42% on his 3-point attempts last year while spending most of his time as a stretch 5 for the Atlanta Hawks.
Age: 25 Stats: 5.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 0.6 assists in 12 minutes per game
In just four seasons, Robinson, the former fifth overall pick, has played for six teams. He’s the type of power forward that has gone out of style in today’s NBA with his lack of outside shooting, but he put up a 17.3 PER last season with the Lakers in his limited minutes. He’s never averaged more than 15 minutes per game in any overall season. His free throw shooting of just 47% last year is a concern.
Age: 24 Stats: 4.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.3 assists in 10.3 minutes per game
His team option was recently declined, but he could still be tendered a qualifying offer by the Nets that would make him a RFA instead of an unrestricted free agent. The wing still hasn’t found a consistent shooting stroke as he’s only shot 29% for his career from 3-point land, but he was able to get his overall shooting percentage to a respectable 45% this season.
Age: 24 Stats: 8.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists in 19 minutes per game
McLemore is a late addition to this list as word comes that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent from Chris Haynes at ESPN (The Pacers don’t pursue restricted free agents per their owner’s rule). Perhaps no better choice on this list than McLemore, who could potentially end up being a starter for the Pacers at shooting guard. He’s struggled to find any consistency with the Kings, but perhaps a better environment could lead to more success for the former 7th overall pick. He’s steadily improved his 3-point shooting a couple percentage points per season to go from 32% in his rookie season to 38% this past year.
G-League players to take a chance on
The best part about giving any of these players a chance with a guaranteed contract would be that it’ll likely be at the minimum. These are the cheapest and lowest risk options the Pacers could take, but all of them could just be waiting for the right opportunity to show they belong in the NBA as a rotation player.
Age: 25 Stats: 22.5 points, 7.7 assists, 1.9 steals
Jackson is a short point guard, but that hasn’t stopped guys like Isaiah Thomas and many others from succeeding in the NBA. His efficiency was much improved this season in the D-League as his shooting percentages rose to 49% overall and 37% from 3-point distance. You have to think eventually some NBA team is going to give this scoring machine a chance. His PER this year was 22.7 while playing for the Texas Legends.
Age: 24 Stats: 21.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists per game
Jones can play either forward position and put up big numbers for the Maine Red Claws in his rookie season, but perhaps his biggest strength is his defensive versatility. G-League expert Chris Reichert calls Jones a Draymond-lite and says he can guard the 1-4 positions. He shoots a respectable 35% from long range and searching for his D-League highlights on YouTube produce a multitude of monster games.
His teammate Marcus Georges-Hunt is also one to lookout for if the Magic end up cutting him after signing him to a non-guaranteed deal at the end of last season.
Age: 21 Stats: 15.8 points, 8.9 rebounds
Alexander was once a highly-touted high school prospect and looked at as a future NBA star, but after spending a season at Kansas unable to play due to NCAA investigation, Alexander went undrafted in 2015. He’s a power forward that fits the mold of the NBA’s past more than the current shooting bigs that are in vogue, but he did try out a 3-point shot with the Nets D-League team shooting 29.6% on 1.5 attempts per game. He can finish in the post with either hand and is a terrific rebounder. He averaged 22.6 points and 11.1 rebounds over his last 15 games while shooting 58% according to Reichert.
Age: 24 Stats: 20.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists
Brown has earned a couple of NBA call ups in the past but has yet to take advantage, struggling with his shot in those chances. He’s a 6’7″ wing that’s recovering from a stress fracture in his foot, but before he got injured he shot a ridiculous 47% from 3-point range on five attempts per game.
Age: 24 Stats: 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists in 23 minutes per game
Cook shot only 33% from 3-point range, but the athletic, strong wing scored in bunches for Santa Cruz before an injury ended his season early.
Yesterday, there were some rumblings from unreliable sources and today Marc Stein of ESPN has reported that the Pacers and Kings have discussed a potential deal that would send Rudy Gay to the Pacers.
The Pacers have already had a busy offseason: adding two starters in Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young before the NBA draft. These two likely starters will most likely be the biggest moves Larry Bird and the Pacers make in preparation for the 2016-2017 season. They have two remaining spots on their roster available if they plan to sign second-round pick, Georges Niang. ICYMI: Here’s an in-depth analysis on what the Pacers are likely to do with their own free agents. I recommend reading that post before this one.
Depending on whether the Pacers decide to keep any of their free agents, they are generally seen to have anywhere from $12 – 20 million in cap space (depending on whether or not they want to keep Ian Mahinmi) to spend on the last two roster spots and a potential renegotiation of the newly acquired Teague’s contract. While the Pacers could look to trade one of their ball dominant guards (Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey), nothing has indicated to this point that is part of Bird’s plan. During his post-draft press conference, Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers General Manager and second in command to Bird, mentioned how the Pacers see other teams having success by always having four or five playmakers on the court at all times. Bird likely sees both Ellis and Stuckey as key pieces that the Pacers will need for their plan to fill the court with playmakers. I could go on and on about the potential pitfalls here for the Pacers, so that’s another post for another day. For the sake of this article, I will assume the Pacers are not planning on trading away any of their current pieces. (I’m sure since I wrote this that Bird will quickly trade away someone before free agency even starts.)
Since the Pacers have only a max of about $20 million in cap room, we can immediately cross off the cream of the crop in this free agency class: Kevin Durant, Nicolas Batum, Al Horford, and Mike Conley. The Pacers likely never had much of a chance at any of these guys anyway despite awesome hashtags like #KevINDYrant. They will not be discussed here as viable options. One other thing that should be known about the Pacers: they do not go after restricted free agents (RFA) per the owner’s policy. So, going after young guys just coming off of their rookie contracts like Allen Crabbe, Evan Fournier, Troy Daniels, etc. will not be an option for Bird and the Pacers due to this organizational limitation.
With the Pacers starting lineup likely set barring another trade,– Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Paul George, Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner– the Pacers will be looking for players that can fill specific bench roles with their last two spots on the roster. Here are some options (both good and bad): Continue reading Potential Free Agent Targets for the Pacers
The Pacers have already made some major changes to their roster in the early stages of the off-season: trading George Hill for Jeff Teague in a 3-team deal and trading their 1st-round pick for Thaddeus Young. If the Pacers sign 2nd-round pick Georges Niang, that’ll put the Pacers roster at 13 players under contract for next season with only two open roster spots left. The Pacers have four free agents from last year’s team: Ian Mahinmi, Solomon Hill, Jordan Hill, and Ty Lawson. Let’s take a look at each player and the likelihood that the Pacers will retain their services for the 2016-17 season. Continue reading Will the Pacers re-sign any of their free agents?
In the span of two seasons, Solomon Hill went from leading all Indiana Pacers players in minutes to being stuck to the bench and from having Larry Bird waive the 4th-year team option on his cheap rookie deal to becoming a crucial part of the Pacers rotation down the stretch and in the playoffs.
This Solocoaster of sorts (please, forgive me) has been a bumpy ride for Hill, but his late season performance has more than likely put him out of the Pacers price range if they want to retain him. Here’s a look at his past two seasons with some lyrics from the Hotline Bling parody, “SoloBling,” sprinkled in throughout.
In 2014-2015 as Hill started 78 games and led the Pacers in minutes, his performance was mediocre at best; while he averaged 8.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, he also had a Pacers-worst -9.6 on/off rating. He played his usual solid defense, made the occasional surprising forceful drive to the rim for a dunk, and struggled mightily with his jump shot (shot under 40% for the season).
🎶 Ever since the Summer League,
I wasn’t in the rotation as a wing now.
Everybody played and I felt left out,
but GR3 too young, and where is Chase now? 🎶