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Contract extension for Domantas Sabonis relieves pressure on double-center pairing

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The Pacers did a good.

Indiana Pacers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers have reached agreement with Domantas Sabonis on a four-year $74.9 million contract to keep their herd of home-blossomed centers together, at least for the time being, reports The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the deal could be worth as much as $85 million with bonuses.

After rumors circulated over the weekend that the two sides were “far apart” in negotiations, with Sabonis going so far as to publicly voice his displeasure with the team’s valuation of him, this is arguably the best possible outcome.

By inking their double-double machine to a deal with an $18.7 million annual average value, the Pacers managed to keep both of their 23-and-under bigs on essentially equal financial footing while avoiding the prospect of potentially having to match a prickly offer sheet in a weak free agent market next summer. Additionally, rather than cobbling together a potentially less-than-desirable trade at the eleventh hour, they also bought themselves time to evaluate the pairing — especially once Victor Oladipo returns — without losing leverage or risking a gross overpay.

Sabonis has a limited defensive ceiling, and he has yet to demonstrate any degree of consistency spreading the floor, but he plays big without being confined by his size and is key to greasing the wheels of what can oftentimes be a very vanilla offense. Whether using two-dribble moves from the perimeter or trucking through opposing bigs from the top of the key as well as the block, the lefty big man also looked equal parts spry and strong in preseason action, despite some of the noticeable come-and-go hiccups he and Turner demonstrated in tandem.

Moreover, the terms appear to represent a bit of capitulation from both sides. Late last week, ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported that the contract Turner received would be a “non-starter” for Sabonis’ camp. In the end, the lefty big man did receive a slight pay bump over Turner, who arguably has the higher ceiling even if also the less reliable floor, but only by the slimmest of margins, which could either be indicative of a desire for upfront, long-term security or be reflective of the potential cap ramifications from the NBA’s situation in China.

To that point, it certainly seems notable that almost every high-profile player eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer reached agreement on a new deal by today’s 6:00 PM deadline with the exception of Brandon Ingram, who has mitigating health concerns.

Either way, by retaining their starting power forward on a four-year contract, the Pacers not only guaranteed themselves the chance to finally give their double-center pairing the good old college try, they relieved the pressure and extended the timeline for all three of them — Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, and Goga Bitadze — to grow together.

Per The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the deal includes no player or team options.