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The Pacers made the right move with Domantas Sabonis’ extension

Domantas Sabonis

The Indiana Pacers and Domantas Sabonis managed to come to an agreement on a four-year, $74.9 million contract extension before Monday’s deadline, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and J. Michael of the IndyStar. The complete details of the deal are not yet confirmed and there were conflicting reports of the final total figure and possible incentives.

It is worth noting that Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the deal is worth four-years, $77 million with the potential of up to $85 million due to incentives. Regardless of the final amount, there are no player or team options on the deal and it will begin during the 2020-21 season. The NBA’s poison pill provision will now be in effect for the Pacers if they were to try to trade Sabonis before his extension were to officially begin.

Between the Pacers being recently engaged in active trade talks involving Sabonis and the Lithuanian big voicing his displeasure with the process, a deal didn’t seem likely to get done during the days leading up to the deadline. In the end, the rumored minimum requirement of getting paid not ‘a penny less’ than teammate Myles Turner proved to be do-able for both sides.

While the specific details of the contract have yet to be confirmed, the deal seems favorable for both the Pacers and Sabonis. They are now able to test out the frontcourt pairing of Turner and Sabonis and allow the results that are achieved on the court to determine their future plans. If it doesn’t end up working, they can facilitate a trade and now have more time to approach it this way.

The current concerns regarding the Turner and Sabonis pairing are that they are both viewed primarily as centers. The responsibilities that power forwards have on both ends of the floor are different than they used to be in terms of having to guard smaller players out on the perimeter and having to space the floor on offense. Sabonis struggles with both of those areas.

The goal for the Pacers is that the stretch-five, interior defensive prowess of Turner could help make up for Sabonis’ deficiencies in today’s NBA. Meanwhile, the goal is that the passing and interior offensive strengths that Sabonis brings to the table when coupled with Turner’s capabilities as a shooter can make for a formidable combination.

As for Sabonis, he doesn’t have to risk a potential decline in the league-wide salary cap as a result of possible revenue decline from the Chinese market impacting his future salary. The market for traditional bigs has been underwhelming in recent years on top of that, so there was no shortage of factors that pointed towards getting a long-term deal done sooner rather than later. Plus there is always the risk of injury before receiving a new deal, too.

The risk for the Pacers in this deal is that the Turner and Sabonis pairing may not work out quite like they hope it will. There is even potential for the four-year, $85 million deal that Malcolm Brogdon signed in the offseason doesn’t quite pan out to the extent that they desire either. Having multiple big-money deals before extending Victor Oladipo’s contract could leave them gridlocked.

There are risks and rewards to all contracts that are handed out and the results on the hardwood will have to determine the final verdict on the Pacers’ decision. If the contracts that they have recently handed out prove to be successes, then they have an intriguing future as a team. However, they will need to get creative if things don’t go according to plan.

At this current moment, the extension for Sabonis appears to be the right move for the Pacers. They get to buy themselves time to figure out their future plans while keeping a fan-favorite.

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