Pacers playing a waiting game with Thaddeus Young

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 06: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Indiana Pacers shoots the ball against the Chicago Bulls at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on January 6, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 06: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Indiana Pacers shoots the ball against the Chicago Bulls at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on January 6, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

It doesn’t seem that Thaddeus Young is getting an extension any time soon, making us wonder if he has a future with the Indiana Pacers.

Who flinches first? The Indiana Pacers or Thaddeus Young? That the scenario now as Thaddeus Young talks about wanting to stay with the Pacers but no contract extension seems imminent.

Thad’s hustle on the court and flexibility as a defender endear him to fans and must impress coach Nate McMillan and the front office, but that doesn’t mean a new deal is coming anytime soon.

It’s a waiting game and more than likely, we’ll be waiting until next summer to find out whether Young is sticking around or picking up his things and moving to the 5th team so far in his NBA career.

So are the Pacers not interested in keeping Young? Is Thad’s camp wanting too much? The answer, of course, it a little more complicated than yes or no answers.

Thaddeus Young is fighting Father Time

Thaddeus is 30-years old and on the downward slope of his career. There’s no fighting that. However, that doesn’t mean it’s time to send him out to the farm where all the good power forwards get to go.

But even if his best days are behind him, there are still plenty good days ahead. Thad’s game isn’t based off raw athleticism or physical power. His 6’10 frame combined with his basketball IQ allows him to cover multiple positions. That’s a big part of the reason why he was 10th in the NBA in steals last season. He’s crafty and a physical presence while not needing raw strength or speed to make an impact.

Young still averaged 11.8 points and 6.3 rebounds last season but more importantly, contributed to the Pacers winning. As far as the Real Plus-Minus stat is concerned, he contributed around 7 wins to Indiana, which puts him around 7th among power forwards. He played a pivotal role in shutting down Kevin Love in the playoffs last season as well.

Young also is one of the team’s veteran leaders and relishes his role as a glue guy. He is willing to play fewer minutes this season as Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis step forward in the frontcourt. He said as much to’s Mark Montieth.

"“Right now I’m not concerned at all,” Young said. “I know those two guys are the future of this franchise and they want to play them together to see how it works out, but at the end of the day I’m just going to play and let things work themselves out and be me and do the things I do to help teams win games.”"

He’s saying all the right things and willing to do them, but if the Pacers don’t need him to play as many minutes, that’s also why they aren’t in a rush to sign him to a longer-term deal, either.

The Pacers are likely willing to see how Young performs this season before throwing money at him. What if he does fall off? It’s unlikely, but it is only beneficial to them to get a clearer picture of Young before making their move.

However, there are some risks for Indiana if they don’t sign Young to an extension before free agency starts next year.

Thaddeus Young’s cap hold could be a problem for the Pacers

$20,646,068. That’s the cap hold for Thaddeus Young if they don’t sign him to said extension by June 30, 2019. Without getting down into the nitty gritty (that’s what Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ is for), until Indiana re-signs Young next summer or renounces him as a free agent, they have that much money locked up on the books with his name on it.

He isn’t going to get paid that much per season on his next contract, but the CBA dictates that a certain amount of money is used as a hold while a team decided what to do with a player’s rights.

If the Pacers do want to keep Thaddeus Young around, there’s a reason to get a contract extension done during the season. While they could renounce his free agent rights to unlock that money, that means they lose his Bird rights, which would allow them to go over the salary cap to sign him.

It’s a little complicated, but the basic idea is signing him before free agency avoids a massive cap hold way above is next expected salary. They could renounce him and later sign him as a free agent, but he would have to be signed without putting Indiana over the cap.

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The Pacers are maximizing their leverage by simply waiting. We don’t know how interested Indiana is in retaining Young beyond this season, but they can wait and see how well Young performs before offering him a contract at whatever they deem is the right price.

They might even choose to let him become a free agent with the intention of signing him, but with his contact going towards their cap space.

The Pacers goal is to create the best roster they can within their budget. They have to deal with time constraints as well as free agency will open and they may need to sign a player as quickly as they can to ensure a player doesn’t get enticed to sign elsewhere.

A problem for Thad and the Pacers is many of their players are in the final years of their current deals. That means at the current moment with all the cap holds, Indiana is $41 million over the cap. Young’s hold is a practically half of that and one that they likely don’t want to be held over their heads as free agency starts next summer.

Waiting is the hardest part

All of this circles back to how Young may or may not fit into their future. He will contribute to whatever teams he signs with, the only question is the exact role and for how much.

No player wants to feel like a secondary concern, but as the Pacers go forward, it’s clear that Young isn’t their top priority. That doesn’t mean they don’t want him, but they’ll maintain flexibility with their roster in an effort to build a better one.

Young has indicated multiple times he wants to stay with the Pacers, but that also means Indiana needs to make him feel wanted. We only know so much of what’s going on behind the scenes, but even then it’s hard to know exactly what’s going through each side’s minds.

Next. Nwaba discloses that the Pacers offered him a deal. dark

Thaddeus Young wants stability. The Pacers want flexibility. One of them is going to get their way, and with Indiana holding the leverage at the moment, Thad is going to have to wait for his next contract from the Indiana Pacers — or play somewhere else.