INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- The Indiana Pacers have yet to decide on Solomon Hill's $2.3 million fourth-year team option. With the NBA salary cap expected to rise to $90 million next season, it seems apparent that the Pacers will choose to take up this final year team option.
Solomon Hill has been nothing special for the Indiana Pacers. In fact, he isn't even currently in their rotation. He is a hard working player, but he just hasn't translated that hard work to on-court success for the Pacers. Even with that being said, the Pacers will most likely accept this final year option and use him to fill out the bottom of their roster.
The salary cap will likely be going from around $70 million to around $90 million next season. That means that player contracts will be shooting up with the salary cap increase, so keeping players like Solomon Hill with such a cheap contract is a fantastic asset to have. That is even the case when the player doesn't necessarily contribute in their team's rotation.
The Pacers have a few players that have their contracts expiring after this season; Jordan Hill, Ian Mahinmi, and Chase Budinger. Indiana will only have around $60.0 million on their books for the 2015-16 season if they accept Solomon Hill’s team option, which means that they will have around $30.0 million in cap space to fill out the remaining holes on their roster. It is basically expected that Budinger and Hill won't be back, but there has been no indication regarding Mahinmi's future.
Indiana could get Glenn Robinson III to take Chase Budinger’s spot in the rotation after this season. Robinson only has $1,050,500 on contract and that would give the Pacers plenty of savings from Budinger’s expiring contract to spend on a key player. Indiana has Solomon Hill to use as their third string small forward and then they can sign a third string point guard.
There has been no indication regarding what the Pacers will want to do with Ian Mahinmi, but they could possibly replace him with Rakeem Christmas if he develops at a high rate. Christmas is on the books for $1,052,342 next season. But Christmas will most likely not get higher than second string at the center position. Indiana could always re-sign Mahinmi, sign or draft a good center, and then keep Christmas as a third string center.
This means that the Pacers would have to sign a good starting center and a cheap third string center. That of course depends on what position the Pacers want to start Myles Turner at; if Turner starts at power forward they would sign a center, but if he starts at center they would sign a power forward.
Indiana still has key players on their roster after this season; Paul George, George Hill, C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey, Monta Ellis, and Myles Turner. Indiana still has other players on contract beyond this season as well; Joseph Young, Rakeem Christmas, Shayne Whittington, Glenn Robinson II, and possibly even Solomon Hill if they accept his team option.
The Pacers’ rotation could look like this prior to the NBA Draft and Free Agency:
PG: George Hill, Joseph Young, (No Player)
SG: Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey, Solomon Hill
SF: Paul George, C.J. Miles, Glenn Robinson III
PF: Myles Turner, Lavoy Allen, Shayne Whittington
C: (No Player), Ian Mahinmi, Rakeem Christmas
Indiana would have four high quality starters (Paul George, Monta Ellis, Myles Turner, and George Hill), a high quality sixth man (Rodney Stuckey), a proven high quality veteran off the bench (C.J. Miles), three bench prospects with high potential (Rakeem Christmas, Joseph Young, and Glenn Robinson III), and a decent backup power forward (Lavoy Allen). Indiana would be left with a few holes in their third unit. They could release Shayne Whittington since his contract is un-guaranteed next season, sign a better backup power forward, and use Lavoy Allen as the third string power forward. If Christmas isn’t ready for a larger role, they could sign a starting center and backup center (or re-sign Mahinmi) as well. There are a lot of options for the Pacers after this season. The draft and free agency could really help them, even more so if they have a good draft pick. Indiana likes Mahinmi as a backup center a lot, so it is likely that they could sign him to a cheap short-term extension. That would allow the Pacers to then target a high end centers or power forwards, and then start Turner at the opposite of what position that is signed. Indiana would have around $30 million in cap space, but before a possible Mahinmi extension.
Myles Turner’s skill set and size is best suited for the power forward position, but he can play either position at a high level. Depending on free agency and the draft, the Pacers could really target either a starting power forward or center and then sign some quality bench players to fill out the rest of their team. Indiana certainly has the cap space and possibly even the draft position (depending on how their season turns out) to really make a drastic turnaround in the upcoming off-season. They have gotten young prospects that are supposed to be contributing components of their rotation in the near future, and Myles Turner as a starter for next season. Indiana could even sign a quality backup shooting guard if Joseph Young isn't ready to be in the second unit, then they could place Stuckey as the team's backup point guard. But all signs point to Joseph Young being ready for the team's rotation next season. It's very early to be looking ahead to the off-season so all of that was just a few quick thoughts. But regardless, the future is looking very bright for the Indiana Pacers.