Consistency is often an overlooked skill because being the guy who isn’t flashy or outspoken can keep you out of the media’s attention. For this reason, few NBA fans outside of Indianapolis would have known that Thaddeus Young was the captain of the 2017-18 Pacers.
He was chosen because he leads by example, doing the same little things every game that were critical in Indiana’s winning 48 games rather than 40.
Young has averaged roughly the same amount of points, rebounds, assists and steals over his last few seasons in a Pacers jersey. But now as he enters his 12th NBA season, Young has to decide whether he wants to opt out of his $13.7 million player option.
Indiana's Thaddeus Young considers declining $13.7M option on his contract, joining July free agent market. Story on ESPN: https://t.co/bcDxFYjgsl— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 11, 2018
The decision is tough for Young because he’s coming off a year where he played 81 games and was a critical part of the Pacers getting the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. He not only thinks he has leverage over Indiana but the free agent market for a power forward is weak.
The top three available power forwards are Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker, all restricted free agents looking for money that could way exceed what Young might be willing to take. The fourth and fifth best power forwards available are Young and Derrick Favors.
Young also knows this might be last time he’d be in a position to receive a three or four-year contract as he reaches the other side of 30. He’s so far been relatively injury free, except for his wrist two seasons ago.
The Pacers and Kevin Pritchard have been non-committal to Young since the season ended and likely don’t want to give Young a long-term deal yet. Pritchard has stressed the need for a stretch power forward who can shoot threes and allow Indiana to spread out the floor.
Young shot just 32 percent from three last season but shot 38 percent the year before. Young has to replicate that again to be an effective stretch-four. Pritchard most likely wants to see if Young can get back those numbers before committing him to a three-year deal.
Young checks almost every other box the Pacers are looking for in a power forward. He’s a good on-the-ball defender who can switch onto multiple positions. His deflections and ability to cut off passing lanes complimented other Pacers’ defensive skills like that of Victor Oladipo. Together, Young and Oladipo helped Indiana finish second in the league with both steals and deflections.
Pritchard thinks he might have the upper hand in negotiations because the $13.7 million option is the most money per year Young can probably make for the rest of his career. If Young opts in and has a good season he’s likely to get a long-term deal next summer from the Pacers or another team.
On the open market, Young is probably looking for a deal between $9-11 million per year but for 3-4 years. The Pacers are Young’s fourth NBA team and while he might have enjoyed winning, ultimately he probably just wants to somewhere he feels wanted.