Pacers Salary Series: Damien Wilkins and his Veteran Presence

Indiana Pacers - (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Indiana Pacers - (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

In this series, 8p9s writer Tony East breaks down the contract situation of each Pacers player. In this edition, we’ll look at veteran Damien Wilkins.

When the Pacers announced they were signing Damien Wilkins to a contract, I searched the internet to see if there was a young, undrafted Damien Wilkins that found his way to the roster. I thought there was no way the team is signing a guy who hasn’t played in four consecutive NBA seasons.

I was wrong. They signed Wilkins, now 37 years old, to a non-guaranteed one-year contract. He spent most of the last few years playing in the G-league, as well as short stints playing in various countries, including China.

It is only speculation, but the thought behind the Wilkins deal is mostly that he can be a veteran presence and can teach young wings Victor Oladipo and Glenn Robinson III about playing in the NBA. Nate McMillan coached him in 2005, so he knows a thing or two about what Wilkins brings to the table in terms of leadership.

HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL – MARCH 15: Damien Wilkins
HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL – MARCH 15: Damien Wilkins /

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McMillan, interestingly enough, went from being a player to an assistant coach when he was with Seattle. His ties to Wilkins from those days make it believable that Indiana is grooming Wilkins for a coaching role.

On the actual court, the Pacers aren’t paying Wilkins for much. His career high in scoring was 9.2 points per game, and that was 10 seasons ago. In the G-league he left much more of an impression, with 20.2 points per game in 2014-15, and he was a G-league all-star that season.

Basketball-wise, it is tough to say what Wilkins does well at an NBA level because he hasn’t played in four years. I would venture to guess he is a scorer after watching some of his G-league highlights. He gets fouled and hits a circus shot during a 40 point game in this clip:

Maybe, if he makes that team, we can see some shots like that in garbage time.

2017-18 season

Wilkins signed a non-guaranteed one-year minimum contract with the Pacers. The contract will pay him $2,116,955, but he only carries a cap hit of $1,471,382.

The league pays for the difference between those two figures, as they do for any one-year minimum deal for veterans. Not even one dollar of his contract is guaranteed.

2018 summer and beyond

Because he may not even make the team this year, it is impossible to foresee his future. It is almost a certainty that if he does make the team, however, it will only be for one season and next summer they will renounce his cap hold.

Prediction time

Given the rest of the camp invite signings the Pacers have made, it looks like Damien Wilkins is going to make the team. Before the league-wide cutdown date in January, he may be gone. He may make it the whole season. It is really impossible to tell.

Regardless of how long he is on the team, all the signs point to a coaching role. The team may bring him on to be an assistant coach under Nate McMillan when he is finally done playing.

I have very little to say about Damien Wilkins. He likely won’t have much/any impact on the basketball floor, so any contributions he can bring to the organization will be welcoming.

Next: All-time Pacers jersey power rankings

Hopefully, his veteran presence is worth $1.5 million.