Victor Oladipo‘s takeoff season hit turbulence when the Cavaliers double-teamed the Pacers star in their first-round series. Oladipo shot 7-for-35 in Game 4 and Game 5 losses. Though Oladipo wasn’t used to being trapped to that degree, Indiana also lacked a reliable secondary playmaker to exploit the advantage situation if Oladipo passed ahead.
Enter Tyreke Evans.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Evans was the top unrestricted free agent available. That crown now goes to Isaiah Thomas if you’re swinging for the fences or, if you prefer a safer bet, Luc Mbah a Moute, Wayne Ellington or Brook Lopez.
The Pacers also agreed to terms with Doug McDermott on a three-year, $22 million contract. They eagerly spent their cap space to upgrade a surprising 48-34 win team and still have the $4,449,000 room exception to use.
Taking another step forward could pay off even bigger next summer.
Evans, Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison and Cory Joseph all have expiring contracts. Oladipo ($21 million salary) and McDermott are the only Indiana players due more than a rookie-scale salary. The Pacers could hit free agency hard again next year.
In the meantime, Evans can play all three perimeter positions, though he’s probably primarily a wing on this team. He might start at small forward, though I suspect Bogdanovic or McDermott will. The Pacers struggled whenever Oladipo sat, and Evans fits as a spark off the bench.
The Mavericks pulled their qualifying offer for Doug McDermott, but he will be just fine.
Reported Pacers target Will Barton is re-signing with the Nuggets, and Indiana will be…
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Like many contracts agreed to this early in free agency, this seems like an overpay. McDermott is a good shooter, but limited otherwise – especially defensively.
At least McDermott will help on the court. He’ll share minutes at small forward with Bojan Bogdanovic. At 26, McDermott shouldn’t slip during this contract.
The questionable part is the value. Could Indiana have spent this money better elsewhere or at least paid McDermott less and saved some for another player?
To be fair, we all criticized the Pacers last offseason, and they proved us wrong. Kevin Pritchard has earned the benefit of the doubt on this signing.
We got one last tango between LeBron James and Lance Stephenson.
Now, LeBron and his chief irritant are heading into uncertain offseasons that could result in them no longer matching up in the playoffs.
The Pacers will decline Stephenson’s $4.36 million team option for next season, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Indiana will reportedly guarantee Bojan Bogdanovic‘s $10.5 million salary for next season. Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said the team would keep Darren Collison. I’ll assume that means guaranteeing Collison’s $10 million salary rather than waiving him ($2 million guaranteed) and attempting to re-sign him for less.
If Thaddeus Young opts out and the Pacers waive and stretch Al Jefferson ($4 million guaranteed of $10 million salary), Indiana could have about $33 million in cap space.
That’d go a long way in this market.
Even if Young ($13,764,045 player-option salary) opts in, the Pacers should be a major player in free agency. They’re coming off a surprisingly strong year and positioned to get even better.
After they hunt better wings, they could even bring back Stephenson at a lower salary. He seemingly plays well with only Indiana, but maybe the Pacers have just had enough of him.
If they don’t want to re-sign him at a lower cost, it’s not a certainty he gets an NBA job next season.
Bojan Bogdanovic is the kind of floor spacing shooter the Pacers need next to the attacking Victor Oladipo. He started 80 games for the team, scored 14.3 points per game and shot 40.2 percent from three.
Bogdanovic is due $10.5 million next season, but the Pacers can buy him out before next Friday (June 29) for $1.5 million.
They’re not going to do that, the Pacers are going to retain Bogdanovic, reports Ben Gibson at the Pacers site 8points9seconds.com.
The Indiana Pacers currently plan to retain Bojan Bogdanovic — whose contract is only partially guaranteed for next season — and would be comfortable going into next season with him as a starter, according to a source familiar with the Pacers offseason plans.
There’s no surprise here, it was expected. Bogdanovic provides genuine value to the team — they need him on the court as a shooter, he averaged the second most threes per game on the squad. And, as an expiring contract, he could be used in any potential trades for another star.
The Pacers also have a decision to make on Darren Collison, who is owed $10 million next season but has a $2 million buyout by July 1. They will probably keep him around.
Al Jefferson is owed $10 million next season but can be bought out for $4 million before next January 10. Expect the Pacers to exercise that option and buy him out well before that date.
Marcus Morris drew a lot of attention for lauding his own defense of LeBron James before the Celtics and Cavaliers began the Eastern Conference finals. (Morris backed it up in Game 1.)
But Morris’ self-praise came with humbler context. He called LeBron the best player in the NBA. He noted Kawhi Leonard was better at defending LeBron. He emphasized that slowing LeBron wouldn’t be a one-man job.
This isn’t as subdued.
Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:
Morris waited next in the long line of LeBron defenders, and so he studied the tendencies of the ones who came before. He watched plays on Synergy. He downloaded clips on YouTube. He projected games on his flat screen, pressing the rewind button once, twice, then three times just to figure out what, if anything, he could take from the previous two playoff teams that had been vanquished by the King.
Morris sought inspiration, but he stumbled upon a harsh truth.
“Them dudes can’t guard. That’s what I did pick up,” Morris said, bluntly.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Lance Stephenson, Thaddeus Young, O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam can (some reasonably, others not) object – from home.
Morris is busy readying for what will likely be a bounce-back Game 2 by LeBron.