The Indiana Pacers held a public press conference to watch the signing of Jalen Smith, who agreed to a three-year deal with the team. This was a rare move from the Pacers’ front office, but they are thrilled to keep Smith.
“I feel that Indiana was going to help me build the future that I wanted,” said Smith.
Rick Carlisle announced that Jalen Smith will be the Indiana Pacers’ starting Forward for the upcoming season.
Carlisle wasted no time in his opening portion of the conference by confirming this sentiment saying, “(Smith) signed on to be our starting Power Forward… that is a big responsibility, and they’re big shoes to fill”.
As it stands, the Pacers starting five would likely be Tyrese Haliburton, Chris Duarte, Bennedict Mathurin, Jalen Smith, and Myles Turner, pending any other moves made to the roster. Buddy Hield makes starting-caliber money, but his age doesn’t quite fit with the growth of the young players Indiana has brought in.
Smith was superb since joining the Pacers after being traded from the Phoenix Suns. The former 10th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft improved his three-point percentage from 23.1% in Phoenix to 37.3% in Indiana.
He improved in nearly every statistical category, which comes naturally with extended minutes. He saw 24 minutes a game after being traded compared to just 13 a game by the team that drafted him. Now, Smith is promised a bigger role even though it comes with a consequence, depending on how you perceive it.
“It was like a burden was lifted off me”.
Jalen Smith agreed to sign a three-year deal with the team, for much less money than the market likely offered. This is a $15.1 million deal, including a player option for the 2024-25 season and a 10 percent trade kicker, per Michael Scotto. However, it wasn’t about the money.
“I am gonna make money regardless in my NBA career, not being cocky, but choosing my future over instant gratification was the main focus and I feel as though I made the best decision possible. Somewhere I can grow, somewhere I know the system, the culture, and the areas around it. I feel as though that’s what is going to help build towards that end goal”.
In his 22 games with the Pacers, he averaged 13.4 points a game and 7.6 rebounds while shooting nearly 40% from deep and 53% from the field. At just 21 years old, he fits perfectly into what the team is trying to build. In the starting five, I listed above, Myles Turner would be the only player over the age of 25 in that lineup.
I think this means the Indiana Pacers are comfortable in keeping Oshae Brissett on the bench along with Isaiah Jackson if Turner remains on the roster to start the year. That leaves T.J. McConnell, Buddy Hield/Duarte, Duane Washington, Brissett, and Jackson as the second unit. Andrew Nembhard should be in that mix as well. Not too shabby.
I feel more moves will happen for the Indiana Pacers this offseason, but that is just my opinion up to this point (July 6th, 2022). For now, Indiana continues to build this young core of players by making savvy trades and hitting on draft picks over the past two seasons.
I feel it is best to go into this upcoming season with no expectations for this roster. These players need time to grow, learn, and build chemistry on the court. It will take time, so you might as well enjoy watching these young players fly around the court. It will be interesting to see how their games compare throughout the year.
Jalen Smith now has a guaranteed role with a team that has no expectations other than just learning how to win. The players of course will want to win each game, and I can’t wait to watch them prove people wrong in the upcoming seasons.