The number for Domantas Sabonis is $77 million over 4 years with the possibility of getting up to $85 million after bonuses. Heading into the start of the week, many were unsure that this deal would get done. The Pacers and Sabonis seemed far apart on a deal and rumors began to swirl about the Pacers trading Sabonis. When asked about that possibility Sabonis said “There’s not really much to talk about. I know exactly how the Pacers feel about me now, they know how I feel about that, and there’s not much more to say. Let my agents do the rest of it and we’ll see what happens.”
There has been a lot of skepticism as to whether the Pacers could make the combo of Myles Turner and Sabonis work in the starting lineup. After extending Turner to a new deal last year and selecting Goga Bitadze in the first round the most recent NBA Draft it seemed that Sabonis may be the odd man out. Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics seemed like a possible target, as he was in a similar situation as Sabonis. Brown was trying get an extension on his rookie contract and the Celtics already have a couple established players at his position in Gordon Hayward and Jason Tatum. Brown got his extension and the deal was reported to be done about 5 minutes before Sabonis.
The other tricky part about getting this deal done had to do with the contract extension Myles Turner received the year prior. Turner’s contract was for $72 million over 4 years with the possibility of getting to $80 million after bonuses. This made it tougher to get the deal done with Sabonis because he would likely want more even if he had been the one backing up Turner for the past few years. Although Sabonis was coming off the bench you could argue that he was more productive with less minutes and that’s why he could demand more money. In the end the contracts are very similar even though Sabonis is getting just a little more than Turner.
It was important to both sides to get this deal done before the start of the season and they just barely met that goal by about 50 hours before the opener on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Detroit Pistons. Now it’s time for the Pacers to prove that they can make the combo of Turner and Sabonis in the starting lineup work. They will have a tough first test facing one of the best big man duos in the league in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.