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Indiana Pacers emerging as favorite to sign Max Strus with a massive contract offer

The Indiana Pacers are among the leaders in NBA cap space this summer with more than $30 million available to spend. As the organization looks for ways to improve, two distinct moves appear to be on the team’s radar in free agency.

Indiana is prioritizing experience, wanting to complement a young roster with veterans who have playoff experience and can play impactful roles for multiple years. While the Pacers won’t be in the market for any of the top NBA free agents, they do have their focus set on two players heading into July.

Related: Indiana Pacers a ‘strong contender’ to land top forward in free agency

According to NBA insider Marc Sten, the Pacers have significant interest in Max Strus and could become the favorite if they follow through on a three-year, $48 million contract offer once he hits NBA free agency.

Strus, a 6-foot-5 guard, went undrafted in 2019 after playing at Lewis (2014-’16) and then DePaul (2017-’19). He didn’t play more than two games until his second NBA season, appearing in 39 contests for the Miami Heat. He progressively earned more minutes in Miami’s rotation, averaging a career-high 28.4 minutes per contest with 33 starts in 80 games played last year.

  • Max Strus playoff stats: 9.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 40.2% FG, .077 WS/48

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After earning less than $4 million in four NBA seasons, Indiana is prepared to offer Strus a contract that Miami couldn’t afford to match. If the Pacers commit to the price point reported by Stein, it’s highly likely Strus plays for Indiana next season.

Strus’ contract would still give the Pacers enough cap space to pursue forward Harrison Barnes, who both guard Tyrese Haliburton and coach Rick Carlisle want signed this summer. With further improvement from Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin, paired with potential additions of Strus and Barnes, Indiana could compete for a spot in the play-in tournament next season.

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