AP Photo/Brandon Dill

Report: Pacers signing Tyreke Evans to one-year, $12 million contract

3 Comments

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.

All signs — including a Russell Westbrook party — point to Paul George re-signing in OKC

Getty Images
24 Comments

At midnight eastern Saturday night (into Sunday morning), NBA free agency opens. Minutes after that, the first signings will be announced. (Not that there’s tampering in the NBA. Nope. No sir. Teams and players are in no way setting everything up through back channels.)

One thing that appears to be a lock for an early announcement: Paul George returning to Oklahoma City. We’ve reported that’s the trend now for a while, but now there are signs it’s a lock. The best is from Royce Webb of ESPN.

Paul George is arriving in Oklahoma City early Saturday evening, as Russell Westbrook is hosting a private party in town late Saturday night as free agency opens, sources told ESPN.

Westbrook has organized the party, dubbed a “summer hype house party,” being held at a property near Lake Arcadia. He invited around 500 guests with the promise of a “surprise performance by a multi-platinum artist.”

Sources told ESPN that artist is Nas. The invitation says, “The FOMO will be real.” Invited guests were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Take that how you want, but it sure feels like that is more of a celebration than a recruitment party.

For a week now the buzz has been growing that George was leaning toward re-signing with the Thunder. OKC traded for him last summer — not thinking they were giving up that much, but then Victor Oladipo made a leap — and made the bet they could win him over with their culture, fans, Westbrook, the coach and system. It may have worked.

It’s expected George will sign a two-year contract (maybe a one-plus-one, more likely two-plus-one) at the max. Two reasons for that. The big one is money — right now his max deal is 30 percent of the salary cap, in two years that jumps to 35 percent (the cap is $101.8 this season). The other reason, it gives him control in case the Oklahoma City experiment goes sideways and he wants out.

Expect this announcement to come early in free agency.

Victor Oladipo named NBA Most Improved Player

Getty Images
2 Comments

This was expected — and well earned.

Victor Oladipo spent the summer of 2017 reshaping his body and honing his skills, and after being traded to the Pacers and the ball put in his hands he became on of the best go-to players, No. 1 options in the league. He averaged 23.1 points per game and became more efficient with that heavier load, lifting the Pacers into the postseason.

All of that earned him the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award.

While Oladipo ran away with the award — garnering 99 of the 101 first-place votes from select media members — there were 33 players total who got at least one of the three ballot spots from the voters. The rest of the order of finish was Clint CapelaSpencer Dinwiddie, Andre Drummond, Julius Randle, and Stephen Adams.

Paul George takes shot at Pacers after they set Lance Stephenson free

Getty Images
6 Comments

The Indiana Pacers are declining the $4.4 million option on Lance Stephenson for next season. This is a little about Stephenson but more about the Pacers wanting maximum payroll flexibility heading into this summer, as they look to build a deeper team with another star around Victor Oladipo.

Players know the NBA is a cold, bottom line business. The Pacers will do what is best for the Pacers and fans will cheer it, even as that throws other lives into a state of flux. Players get the dichotomy — or, as they see it, hypocrisy — that’s true in every sport: Fans will rip players for doing what they want and is best for them if it hurts their team, but will praise that same team for a cold-blooded move.

In the wake of the Pacers letting Stephenson go, Indiana’s bad guy of last summer Paul George chimed in on Instagram.

The Pacers were not wrong to do what they did. It’s the business. It just can sting players.

To the dismay of some fans in recent years, elite players have been more and more willing to use their leverage to get what they want. George wanted out of Indiana, just as Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio, and both are willing to push for it (and to where they want to go) more than previous generations. LeBron James and Kevin Durant will push to form superteams. NBA players feel they have to control their own destiny now, not just be the pawns of teams.

You may not like it, but it’s not changing. Paul George will make the decision this summer as a free agent that’s best for him and his family.

What’s also not changing is that teams will do whatever is in their best interest.

 

Report: Indiana to retain Bojan Bogdanovic, he could start again next season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.