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Woj: Thaddeus Young considering free agency

The Pacers offseason could get much more interesting if Thad Young decides not to pick up his player option.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Pacers forward Thad Young is giving serious consideration to opting out of his $13.8 million player option to enter free agency, according to an ESPN report by Woj.

This news isn’t a big surprise considering both Young and the Pacers have been non-commital on the topic since the end of the season. Despite professing a mutual respect and appreciation for each other, neither side seems in a hurry to reunite. While Corey Joseph quickly exercised his player option to return after the season ended, Young moved into the offseason without a peep and now it appears he wants to let things play out.

Woj reports that Young, who will turn 30 next week on NBA draft night, is looking for a multi-year deal which may be his last chance for a long-term contract.

Young’s decision on whether to exercise his player option is rooted in searching out a longer-term contract in the prime of his career this summer. Young’s value with the Pacers and elsewhere has been buoyed by his ability to guard multiple positions, a benefit in the evolving NBA game.

It seems doubtful that the market for Young on a longer deal would meet nor exceed $13.8 mil/year, so this scenario doesn’t rule out the Pacers working out a deal that is favorable for both sides. But if Young does become a free agent, other contenders may be willing to pay for his veteran presence and lure him into signing a shorter deal for more money than the Pacers are willig to consider.

Plus, the Pacers considering a new deal is no guarantee either. As Caitlin Cooper mentioned in her player review, Young playing as a desired stretch four wasn’t always a great fit on the offensive end, which was easy to note from Kevin Pritchard’s post-season comments.

“If you had a real shooting four, a real stretch-four to put out there with the same team,” Pritchard said of being able to surround Oladipo with shooters at the end of games when he’s functioning like the point guard, while making mention of the way in which Houston spreads the floor around James Harden with players who can guard their position and hit shots. “It’s a tough defend.”

While Young has until June 29 to decide, the Pacers would surely like to know his decision by the draft on June 21. The addition cap space (which sits around $5 million) from the $13.8 mil would make this a far more active offseason for Pritch and friends. But ultimately Young hold the option and with it, control of the situation.

Regardless of how Young’s situation plays out, his impact on last season should leave a lasting positive impression on the franchise. From day one of training camp, he was forceful in moving the team’s mindset past the Paul George mess, showing some pride and resolve after hearing his former teammate talk about needing more help, indicating Young was among those not good enough to help.

The team took on that chip-on-the-shoulder mentality and then Victor Oladipo ran with it. But Young was right there with Vic all season, playing a versatile front-court role and strengthening one of the best lockerrooms in the NBA.