2020 Offseason Outlook - Indiana Pacers


Overview


At the suspension of the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Indiana Pacers had a record of 39-26 which placed them 5th in the Eastern Conference and 11th in the league. The Pacers have had another positive season, quietly earning themselves the projected fifth seed in the Eastern Conference as they near the playoffs. There was doubt that the Pacers would be as successful this season, missing Oladipo for the majority of it, but an impressive season from Brogdon and a breakout season for all-star, Domantas Sabonis kept them competitive for the majority of the year leading them to impressive wins over some of the league’s top teams. With the majority of their team under contract for next season, it’s likely the Pacers will just run it back but there will be a lot of continued speculation about whether or not the team will trade one of its big men in Sabonis and Turner. There are a lot of media personalities that believe the pair cannot co-exist on a winning team, but I believe they are perfect for each other. With Sabonis entering the prime of his career as an all-star and Turner’s immense defensive presence, it would not make sense to trade either of them away. The most likely outcome for this offseason is that the team will remain largely unchanged and they will have another crack at the championship next season with a fully healthy team.


Salary Cap


Currently, the Indiana Pacers have 12 players with guaranteed contracts for the 2020/21 NBA season. They also have no players with player or team options this offseason. The Pacers will have a few players entering restricted free agency in Alize Johnson alongside two-way players, Brian Bowen and Naz Mitrou-Long. They only have two players entering free agency as unrestricted free agents. These are JaKarr Sampson and, most importantly, Justin Holiday. The Pacers will have the $9.2 million mid-level exception available to them as well as a $3.6 million bi-annual exception. They will enter free agency over the salary cap but will be below the tax line.


Depth Chart –

Free Agency


The Indiana Pacers will enter the offseason over the salary cap and with most of their squad already signed for next season, so they are unlikely to be big players in the free agency period. They will have both the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available to them which I expect them to use on retaining their unrestricted free agents. Their most important free agent is Justin Holiday. At age 31, this will be the last time Holiday can go after any significant amount of money which is why he will explore the open market but ultimately, I believe he will end up back in Indiana. His defence off the bench has become critical to the way the Pacers operate. He also provides some solid scoring off the bench that keeps the team going without their stars. In addition to this, Holiday would want to stay with his brother and give his career some stability with Indiana being his 7th team in as many seasons. With the mid-level exception available, it is likely the Pacers will be able to retain Holiday as it would be surprising if another team offered him anything over $10 million a season. I also expect the Pacers to bring back JaKarr Sampson with their bi-annual exception to fill out the bench at the small forward position, especially with Jeremy Lamp set to miss a portion of next season with his knee injury.


2020 Draft


The Pacers will take no major part in the 2020 NBA Draft. Their first-round pick will go to the Milwaukee Bucks leaving them with only their second-round pick available for them to use which projects to be the 50th overall pick.


Summary


Despite continued speculation regarding the future of Indiana’s frontcourt, I expect this offseason to be extremely quiet for the Pacers. Their only key free agent is Justin Holiday who I expect them to bring back with their mid-level exception and ultimately, I anticipate that the team will look remarkably similar, if not identical to this season as they enter the 2020/21 season. With their current roster at full health, I believe the pacers can earn themselves a home court advantage in a playoff series next season as the look to run it back and make a championship run in 2021.


Projected Depth Chart 2020/21 Season –

Players IN: N/A

Players OUT: N/A