Pacers Rumors

Lakers Notes: James, Westbrook, Trade Options, Randle, Horton-Tucker, Walker

LeBron James became eligible for a two-year extension on Thursday. While the Lakers and James have until June 30 — when James would become an unrestricted free agent — to reach an agreement, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin indicated on NBA Today that there’s mutual interest in getting an extension done (video link).

“All signs point toward both sides looking to extend their partnership together,” McMenamin said, adding “Overall, both sides recognize they can help one another get to their mutual goal, which is to compete at a high level and stay relevant.”

James and his representative, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, met with the Lakers GM Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham at the team’s practice facility on Thursday. Paul told McMenamin that they were “productive talks” and he “expects them to continue.”

We have more on the Lakers:

  • The start of training camp could be a soft deadline to trade Russell Westbrook, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Buha says both sides would like to avoid the massive off-court distraction of a media circus constantly speculating about Westbrook’s future.
  • In the same mailbag piece, Buha indicates that the Pacers seem more willing to get a Westbrook deal done than the Nets or another other possible suitor.
  • Despite issues of spacing and long-term contract concerns, Julius Randle would still be a better fit with James and Anthony Davis than Westbrook as a third star, Buha argues. However, Westbrook is mainly a fallback option for the Knicks if they’re unable to acquire Donovan Mitchell.
  • Talen Horton-Tucker isn’t likely to be a regular member of the team’s rotation due to his skill set. His primary strengths are ballhandling and shot creation and the team already has plenty of players who can provide that.
  • Free agent acquisition Lonnie Walker III will fill Malik Monk‘s former role of instant offense off the bench, Buha adds. Walker is a streaky shooter but shot selection and defense are concerns.

NBA Teams With Open Two-Way Contract Slots

A total of 18 NBA teams currently have both of their two-way contract slots filled, as our tracker shows.

That doesn’t mean those players will be locked into those slots for the rest of the 2022/23 season, or even until opening night, since two-way deals are low-cost contracts that don’t count against the salary cap, making them easy to replace. But it means those spots are unavailable for the time being.

That leaves 12 teams with at least one two-way slot available. Those teams are as follows:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Houston Rockets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Washington Wizards

The Hawks, Hornets, Mavericks, Rockets, Clippers, the Trail Blazers, and Wizards have fairly straightforward two-way situations at the moment — they’ve each filled one slot and have one open, with no reports indicating that any of those teams has reached an agreement on a two-way deal with a free agent or draftee.

The Nets and Bulls also have one two-way spot filled and one open, but each of them has a two-way qualifying offer out to a restricted free agent — David Duke for Brooklyn and Malcolm Hill for Chicago. If those players simply accept their QOs, neither the Nets nor the Bulls will have a two-way opening.

The Spurs also have one two-way player signed and one spot open, though a Shams Charania report last month indicated that undrafted rookie Jordan Hall will sign a two-way contract with San Antonio. If and when that happens, the Spurs will join the list of teams with both of their two-way slots occupied.

The Pacers and Pelicans are currently the only two teams that don’t have a single player on a two-way contract. A Charania report way back in June suggested that Dereon Seabron would sign a two-way deal with New Orleans, but it hasn’t officially happened yet.

The best candidate for a two-way contract with Indiana, meanwhile, could be 48th overall pick Kendall Brown, who is one of a handful of 2022 draftees still unsigned. Even if Seabron and Brown sign two-way pacts, the Pacers and Pelicans would still each have one slot available.

Pacers To Sign Deividas Sirvydis

The Pacers have agreed to a one-year deal with swingman Deividas Sirvydis, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Scotto adds (via Twitter) that Sirvydis will compete for a roster spot in training camp, which suggests his deal is likely either partially or non-guaranteed.

Sirvydis, 22, was the No. 37 pick in the 2019 draft. Born in Lithuania, he holds two years of NBA experience with the Pistons and most recently played summer league with the Pelicans. Scotto notes he averaged 19.7 points per game during those summer league outings.

Across his two seasons with Detroit, Sirvydis only appeared in 23 games. He did play in 21 regular season contests in the G League this year, averaging 12.5 points per game on 45% shooting from the floor.

Once they officially sign Sirvydis, the Pacers will have 15 players under contract. That count doesn’t include unsigned draft pick Kendall Brown or the four players the team has reportedly agreed to sign to Exhibit 10 deals.

Pacers Expressed Interest In Keeping Duane Washington Jr.

  • The Pacers wanted to keep Duane Washington Jr. for training camp, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files, but apparently weren’t willing to offer him a two-way contract. Washington was seeking a better opportunity and ultimately signed a two-way deal with the Suns. He spent time with the Pacers on a two-way deal last season, earning a standard contract in April before getting waived earlier this month.

Central Notes: Turner, Murphy, Cavs, Hammon, Marsh

Pacers center Myles Turner has been the subject of many trade rumors, but for now he’s still in Indiana. Turner told Marc J. Spears of Andscape that he’s got some things to prove next season as he enters a contract year.

“Whether that’s in [Pacers] training camp or whether that’s a training camp somewhere else, I’m going to go and be myself. And that’s all anybody, that’s all I can expect for myself,” Turner said. “It’s definitely a proving season for me. Just proving it to myself, what I’m capable of. “

Turner added that he’s “numb” to trade speculation at this point.

“This is my fifth offseason with trade rumors going on,” Turner said. “‘He’s going to land here; he’s going to do this. He going to do that.’ I am finally numb to it, in a sense.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons general manager Troy Weaver was initially interested in hiring Rob Murphy as the head coach of the G League’s Motor City Cruise, according to The Athletic’s James Edwards III. Murphy instead became that team’s GM as well as assistant GM with the Pistons. Murphy believes the NBA team is now set up for long-term success. “Our books are in order. We have young talent,” he said. “I think we’re set up for success over the next 15 years if this all continues to grow and pans out how we think it will.”
  • The Cavaliers added depth via the draft and three free agent signings. They also signed star guard Darius Garland to an extension but there’s still two big items on the agenda, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic notes. Collin Sexton remains an unsigned restricted free agent and they must also decide whether to pursue an extension with Caris LeVert. Those two unresolved issues are intertwined, Russo adds.
  • Becky Hammon, the former Spurs assistant and current head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, said former Pacers assistant Tyler Marsh has been an “invaluable” addition to her staff, she told Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files“He’s just another person who’s a rock-solid person, first and foremost,” Hammon said. “So it’s always nice to have those kind of people that you can fall back on as a coach. Because a lot of times you can feel exposed out there and those people that have your back, like Tyler and my other coaches, are something that’s really invaluable.”

Lakers Notes: LeBron, First-Round Picks, Westbrook

LeBron James will become eligible next Thursday to sign a contract extension with the Lakers that could be worth up to a projected $97.1MM over two years, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article. If James doesn’t agree to an extension with Los Angeles, he would remain on track to reach free agency in 2023.

According to Stein, sources briefed on the matter say that James is happy in L.A. and suggest that his family has become “increasingly entrenched” in Southern California in recent years. Stein adds that the belief in league circles is that LeBron is unlikely to seriously consider leaving the Lakers unless he has the opportunity to play with his son Bronny James elsewhere beginning in 2024.

Once James becomes extension-eligible next week, he and the Lakers won’t be facing any sort of deadline in the near future — he’d remain extension-eligible all the way up until June 30, 2023, and could agree to a new one- or two-year contract at any time before then to avoid free agency. So if the two sides don’t strike a deal immediately, it shouldn’t necessarily be a cause for concern.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Within the same Substack story, Stein writes that seemingly no potential trade partners want to make a deal with the Lakers unless they can get both of L.A.’s tradable first-round picks (2027 and 2029). Based on reporting to date, Stein’s claim presumably applies to at least the Nets with Kyrie Irving and the Pacers with Buddy Hield and Myles Turner. According to Stein, the Lakers have thus far only shown a willingness to move one of those two first-rounders in any deal — and they’ll likely look to add at least some protections to any pick they move.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report spoke to a handful of league insiders about what the Lakers should do with Russell Westbrook and received a wide range of opinions. Those sources were split on how aggressive the team should be in trying to make a preseason trade and how many picks they’d attach to Westbrook. As Pincus writes, some of his sources think L.A. should let Westbrook stay away from the team if he’s still a Laker this fall, while others believe he can still salvage some on-court value for his current club.
  • In case you missed it, there are five Lakers players who can’t be traded until at least December 15. We shared that full list earlier today.

Trade Breakdown: Malcolm Brogdon To Celtics

This is the eighth entry in our series breaking down the major trades of the 2022 offseason. As opposed to giving out grades, this series will explore why the teams were motivated to make the moves. Let’s dive into a deal that sent the 2017 Rookie of the Year from the Pacers to the Celtics

The day after free agency began, the Pacers agreed to send Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics in exchange for Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Juwan Morgan, Malik Fitts and the Celtics’ 2023 first-round pick (top-12 protected). Stauskas, Morgan and Fitts have subsequently been waived by Indiana, so they are no longer on the team’s roster.

The Pacers’ Perspective:

Why would the Pacers be willing to give up a player who averaged 21.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.9 APG on .453/.388/.864 shooting just two seasons ago?

After sending two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento in February for a package headlined by point guard Tyrese Haliburton, the Pacers effectively signaled that a retooling process was underway and Brogdon’s time in Indiana was nearing an end.

The problem was, Brogdon was injured for much of 2021/22 and was ineligible to be traded after signing a veteran extension just before the season started, so the Pacers had to wait until the season was over to deal him.

Injury problems have plagued Brogdon throughout his six-year career. He has missed 140 regular season games over that span, appearing in an average of just over 70% of his team’s games.

Last season, he missed a career-high 46 games, though it’s possible he may have been deliberately held out of some of those contests for tanking purposes and to preserve his long-term health.

Brogdon will earn $67.6MM over the next three seasons, including $22.6MM in ’22/23. In order to match his salary and make the trade legal, the Celtics had to include five players in their package — the priciest of those players, Theis, is making $8.69MM next season, while Nesmith will earn $3.8MM. Only Theis has guaranteed money beyond next season, earning $9.1MM in ‘23/24.

By shedding Brogdon’s salary, waiving Duane Washington’s non-guaranteed deal, and using the stretch provision to spread the partial guarantees owed to Stauskas, Morgan and Fitts across three seasons, the Pacers created enough cap room to sign restricted free agent Deandre Ayton to a four-year, maximum-salary offer sheet. The Suns ended up matching the offer, so Indiana still has about $31MM in cap room available as the ’22/23 season approaches.

After serving as a high-level role player for the Bucks from 2016-19, averaging 12.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 3.6 APG on .484/.408/.895 shooting while playing solid defense, Brogdon desired an expanded role and was signed-and-traded to Indiana for a first-round pick and two second-rounders.

Brogdon had an up-and-down tenure with the Pacers. His counting stats certainly got better on paper, as he averaged 18.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 6.3 APG over the past three seasons. However, he took a step back on defense, and his scoring efficiency took a hit — his .447/.352/.872 shooting line was still solid, but nothing special.

At 29 years old, Brogdon no longer fit with Indiana’s rebuilding timeline. He had functioned as the team’s lead ball-handler when healthy, but with Haliburton on board, he became redundant.

I’m skeptical that Theis will play much for Indiana after having a poor season in the first year of his new contract, especially considering he’s 30 years old himself. He might be a veteran presence for a young team, but the majority of the frontcourt minutes will go to Jalen Smith, who re-signed with the Pacers in free agency, second-year big man Isaiah Jackson, and veteran center Myles Turner – assuming he’s still on the roster.

After being selected No. 14 overall in the 2020 draft, Nesmith never found a foothold in Boston’s rotation during his first two NBA seasons, appearing in a total of 98 games for an average of just 12.7 MPG. I’m sure that was partly due to his performance – he averaged 4.2 PPG and 2.2 RPG while shooting .417/.318/.796 – but he was also stuck behind two of the best wings in the league in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, so minutes were hard to come by.

The Pacers reportedly view Nesmith as a potential “3-and-D” player, and at 22 years old, he fits in with Indiana’s youth movement. There is some untapped upside here – he was the last pick of the lottery two years ago — but whether it comes to fruition or not will be up to Nesmith.

Still, the primary appeal of this trade for Indiana was moving off Brogdon’s long-term salary and adding Boston’s 2023 first-round pick, which will likely be in the late 20s. The Pacers also control their own first-rounder next season as well as the Cavaliers’ lottery-protected pick, so they could have up to three first-round selections in the 2023 draft.

The Celtics’ Perspective:

In acquiring Brogdon, Boston didn’t give up anything of significant value from last season’s team, which made it to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, ultimately losing in six games to the Warriors. Theis was the only player of the five outgoing pieces who played semi-regular postseason minutes, but he had a pretty dreadful showing – the team was 14 points per 100 possessions better with him off the court than on it.

Giving up a future first-rounder that’s likely to land in the late 20s is a classic win-now move for a Celtics team that hopes to win two more playoff games in ’22/23 in order to win an 18th title, potentially breaking a tie with the Lakers for the most championships in NBA history.

As a result of adding Brogdon’s $22.6MM salary and signing Danilo Gallinari with the taxpayer mid-level exception, the Celtics will be well over the luxury tax line next season, another sign that Boston is invested in winning the championship.

Brogdon is a talented and skilled player. At 6’5″ and 229 pounds, he’s more of a combo guard than a point guard, which has its pros and cons.

Part of the reason why he was a sometimes awkward fit with the Pacers is because he primarily functioned as the team’s point guard, but he’s not quick enough to stay in front of smaller, shiftier players. He is, however, capable of guarding bigger wings, as he uses his strength and toughness to hold his ground.

Brogdon uses that strength on offense to his advantage as well, bullying smaller players in drives to the basket. He isn’t the quickest or most athletic player, but he can get to his spots for the most part and does a solid job of drawing contract.

During Brogdon’s tenure, the Pacers also had Victor Oladipo and Caris LeVert at shooting guard, two other score-first players who aren’t great shooters. That sometimes led to some ugly “it’s my turn now” offensive possessions instead of proper ball movement.

If Brogdon tries to play like he did for the Pacers, Celtics fans probably won’t be happy with the results, but if he accepts his role as a sixth man and acts as more of a tertiary play-maker like he did with Milwaukee, he could be an ideal fit offensively.

During his run with the Bucks, Brogdon attempted 22.9% of his threes from the corners and converted 48.9% of those looks – an elite number. With Indiana, only 11.3% of his three-point attempts came from the corners and he converted 37.1% of them. Again, that was partly a result of Indiana’s poor spacing and Brogdon serving as a primary ball-handler.

Brodgon’s shot is slow and mechanical, with a low release point. He needs time to get it off. But he will get plenty of open looks from the corners if he plays within the flow of Boston’s offense.

While Brogdon is a major offensive upgrade over both Marcus Smart and Derrick White, he is a significant downgrade defensively. He isn’t a liability, but he isn’t a positive either, especially when guarding smaller players. Al Horford and Robert Williams will help erase some of those concerns.

I’m curious to see how Brogdon and White will play together, because both are smart passers when they’re so inclined. Both need space to feel comfortable taking jump shots.

It’s hard not to view this trade as a win for the Celtics, even if the Pacers also accomplished their goal of moving off Brogdon’s salary, adding another first-rounder, and creating more playing time for their young core.

Brogdon is a very productive player. He could be the missing piece that pushes the Celtics over the top if they’re able to reach the Finals again.

The only real question on Boston’s end is, can he stay healthy? If so, the team acquired a player who is an offensive upgrade over any of its incumbent guards without taking anything away from its core.

Turner, Hield Expected To Be Dealt At Some Point

  • The Pacers will inevitably trade both Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, as they’ve embraced a full rebuild, according to Bob Kravitz of The Athletic. Team president Kevin Pritchard isn’t in a rush to deal either player, but the Pacers are serious about opening up cap space and accumulating assets.
  • The Pacers’ G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, traded Keifer Sykes‘ rights to the Pistons’ affiliate, the Motor City Cruise, in exchange for the rights to Derrick Walton and Deividas Sirvydis, along with a 2023 second-round pick, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Sirvydis was a second-round pick by Detroit in 2019. The inclusion of the Cruise’s 2023 second-rounder signals that the Pistons and their affiliate expect Sykes to play in the G League in 2022/23. The 28-year-old appeared in 32 games with Indiana last season, averaging 5.6 PPG and 1.9 APG in 17.7 MPG.

Trade Rumors: Brown, Nets, Durant, Celtics, Lakers, Turner

Jaylen Brown‘s name suddenly popped up in trade rumors as the centerpiece of a proposed deal for the Nets’ Kevin Durant. The Celtics wing offered a three-letter response of “smh” (shaking my head) on Twitter.

Quoting a source, longtime Celtics beat writer Mark Murphy (Twitter link) reports that Brown “loves it in Boston. He was two games away from a championship. He’s happy and looking forward to coming back. … Like (previous trade rumors involving) Kawhi (Leonard), AD (Anthony Davis) and others on that level, he’s going to be included in every report because of who he is.”

We have more trade chatter to pass along:

  • It’s unlikely the Nets would actually deal away Durant to the Celtics for another reason, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Phoenix tweets — they’d prefer not to trade him to a chief rival.
  • While the news of the Celtics’ interest in Durant seems like a new development, they’ve actually been involved in trade talks for a while, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marottaon (hat tip to Kevin Zimmerman of Arizona Sports). “I know that (reports of Boston’s interest) came out today so it’s front of mind, but from what I understand those are not fresh talks,” Windhorst said, adding that he doesn’t think the Nets are actively engaged in Durant negotiations at the moment.
  • While the Lakers’ interest in Pacers center Myles Turner is genuine, they’re reluctant to sacrifice an unprotected first-rounder for him, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack mailbag post. Turner is in his walk year and could leave the Lakers after one season in free agency next summer, barring an extension.

Larry Bird No Longer Has Active Role With Pacers

Larry Bird, who stepped down as the Pacers‘ president of basketball operations in 2017, has continued to work with the team in recent years in an advisory role, but he didn’t attend any of Indiana’s pre-draft workouts this spring, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files, who hears that Bird no longer has an active role with the franchise.

“Yeah, he’s not active,” current Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard confirmed to Agness.

However, Pritchard suggested that he and head coach Rick Carlisle can still reach out to the Hall of Famer for advice or feedback if they need it.

“Larry is a good friend of mine and he’s a good friend of Rick’s,” Pritchard said. “At any time we need help, we know where to look. He’s always available.”

Bird, of course, was a Celtic for his entire career as a player, but the Indiana native – who played his college ball at Indiana State – spent most of his post-playing career with the Pacers.

Bird was named Indiana’s head coach in 1997, resigned after three years, then was hired as the team’s president of basketball operations in 2003. He stepped away for a year from 2012-13 due to health reasons, but otherwise held his position in the Pacers’ front office until 2017. After stepping down in ’17, he held the title of advisor to the president of basketball operations (Pritchard).

According to Agness, while Bird wasn’t an everyday presence around the team in recent years, he enjoyed attending pre-draft workout in May and June to evaluate prospects and also played a role in the rehiring of Carlisle in 2021. However, Agness says he didn’t see Bird at a practice or game at all during the 2021/22 season.