Pacers salary series: What impact can Domantas Sabonis have?

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 16: Domantas Sabonis
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 16: Domantas Sabonis /

In this series, 8p9s writer Tony East breaks down the contract situation of each Pacers player. In this edition, we’ll look at the newly acquired youngster Domantas Sabonis.

Domantas Sabonis is just 21 years old, and yet he has a lot of pressure on him coming into Indianapolis. Acquired in the Paul George trade, the front office has belief in him becoming a solid player at some point in the future.

The belief is merited. During his rookie season with the Thunder, Sabonis proved he can be a starter in the NBA. He started 66 games and played 20 minutes a night for Oklahoma City, and was a big part of the Thunder’s success.

More from Pacers News

He scored 10.6 points and pulled down 6.4 rebounds per 36 minutes, and he posted a Defensive Rating of 108. That defensive rating would have been the third highest on the Pacers last season.

Offensively, he started hot from 3-point range before finishing the season with 32 percent shooting from long range. That number isn’t great, but he was just a rookie, and growth is expected going forward. He also shot 55 percent at the rim and 47 percent on long twos. You hope he gets rid of that long two, but at least he is competent from that distance.

Going forward, Sabonis will surely improve on both offense and defense. Defensively, he can stay with quicker wing players and still protect the rim. He sends Paul Pierce‘s shot into the ground in this clip.

Offensively, he is very nimble for his size. He drives to the rim and puts a beautiful move on Marquese Chriss before scoring in this clip.

Already rotation caliber, let’s hope Sabonis ends up improving on all his skills on both ends of the floor.

2017-18 season

Domantas Sabonis is on his rookie scale contract, which he signed with the Thunder. He is set to make $2,550,000 this upcoming season for the Pacers, which is great value for both a young player and a rotation player, making Sabonis one of the biggest bargains on the team. His cap hit on the cap sheet is the same amount.

2018 summer and beyond

Sabonis has a team option for both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. His 2018-19 team option has until October 31st of this year to be exercised. If the Pacers do exercise his team option, they will pay him $2,659,800 next season.

The snowball effect continues. If they pick up his that team option, then they have until October 31st, 2018 to decide about his 2019-20 season contract. If they pick that option up, he will be on the team for the 2019-20 season on a contract that pays him $3,529,555.

After all that, restricted free agency would begin in the summer of 2020. Who knows what his value will be at that point, but he will probably at least get the qualifying offer at that point.

SUMMIT, NJ – AUGUST 15: Domantas Sabonis
SUMMIT, NJ – AUGUST 15: Domantas Sabonis /

Prediction time

Sabonis will have both of his team options picked up, making him a Pacer for at least the next 3 seasons. Assuming he plays well for the team, he will be signed to a long-term deal during restricted free agency during the summer of 2020, meaning he will be a Pacer for the next half-decade or longer.

Given that Domantas Sabonis appears to have a long future on the team, let’s hope he lives up to his contract and continues to improve.

Next: What Paul George got right and wrong

Fans, get excited for Domantas Sabonis and his potential to contribute on both sides of the floor.