Amid apparent frustration with recent trade rumors, Domantas Sabonis signed a four-year, $77 million extension with the Indiana Pacers, according to multiple reports. Whether that makes the 23-year-old more or less likely to be traded remains to be seen.
The Pacers reportedly made Sabonis available in deals, and while the promising young center initially expressed a desire to to stay in Indiana, he hinted this week at his displeasure about the trade rumblings, via the Indianapolis Star.
“There’s really not much to talk about. I know exactly how the Pacers feel about me now, and they know how I feel about that,” Sabonis said. “There’s not much more to say. I’ll let my agents do the rest of it, and we’ll see what happens.”
If that statement was a negotiating ploy, it worked. Within hours of the Indy Star report, news of his extension came down, shortly after the Jaylen Brown signed a more lucrative extension with the Boston Celtics. Brown was among those linked to Sabonis in potential trade scenarios. Both players are no longer in a 2020 free-agency class that grows weaker by the hour.
Sabonis turned in a strong season last year. In 74 games, he averaged 14.1 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting nearly 60 percent from the field. Despite that performance, Sabonis only started five games. He is expected to take on a bigger role with the team this season. Sabonis is pencilled in as a starter alongside Myles Turner after Thaddeus Young left in free agency.
There are questions about whether Sabonis and Turner can coexist in the Pacers’ frontcourt for the foreseeable future, which culminated in reports that Sabonis might be moved. Sabonis is a rebounding machine who can score with remarkable efficiency around the basket. Turner is a more reliable defender who can stretch the floor with an outside shot. Playing the two together belies the NBA’s evolution into a league where switchable defenders are almost a requirement at the power forward position.
Turner signed a nearly identical four-year extension last October. It seems the Pacers will eventually have to move on from one of their young big men, and while Sabonis’ rookie extension complicates trading him, it does not prevent them from making a deal.
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