The Indiana Pacers need to decide if they’d like to invest long-term in a frontcourt of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis in today’s NBA. If they do, expect $18 million to be the probable starting point for negotiations over a possible contract extension.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the $18 million figure is significant because that’s what Turner earned on his own rookie scale contract extension with the franchise last offseason. The two have formed an imposing tandem, although Sabonis has previously operated as the team’s first reserve off the bench.
These days Sabonis has his eye on starting and, as Jack Winter of Basketball Insiders outlines, the team is willing to entertain such a request. The idea of starting two traditional big men alongside each other is seldom employed in today’s NBA but few teams are blessed with a duo as effective as Turner and Sabonis.
Sabonis averaged 14.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game last season, despite playing just 24.1 minutes per contest. Turner averaged 13.3 and 7.2, respectively, in 28.6 minutes of action.
The Pacers elected to grant Sabonis his request to start in the team’s first two preseason games and Winter describes their 16 minutes of shared court time in their opener as a success. The team had a 144.1 offensive rating during that limited sample against the Kings.
The Pacers will have until the October 21 contract extension deadline to commit to Sabonis and avoid him hitting free agency as a restricted free agent next summer. If the two parties don’t come to terms on an extension, they’ll be able to sign him next July or match any offer sheet that another team extends to him.
Indiana won’t have much cap space to play with next summer but should be able to accommodate a respectable extension for Sabonis without breaching the currently projected luxury tax marks for 2020-21.