The Indiana Pacers officially secured Myles Turner, their starting center and longest-tenured player. The two sides agreed to a two-year $60 million extension. For the most part, this news was received as a huge success.
It can be argued that Turner is the face of the Pacers franchise. He was the 11th pick in the 2015 NBA draft by the Pacers. This is the only organization and city he’s called home in his seven-year NBA career. There are some Pacers fans who are not fans of Turner but he has been with this team through the Paul George era and drama. He was there through the Victor Oladipo drama and era. And he’s had to move positions to accommodate the TurBonis era when Domantas Sabonis and Turner both started.
He has been the one guy through all of that who has continued to play an important role with this franchise. The Pacers have not been able to ever advance beyond the first round of the playoffs during his tenure. And this has led to many questions about what the organization would do with Turner’s contract, which was set to expire after this season.
The case for Myles Turner agreeing to contract extension
Myles Turner has played his entire NBA career in Indianapolis and has made the playoffs five times, winning a total of just six games. And the last time they advance to the postseason was in 2020, and they were swept for the second consecutive season in the first round.
Last season, the Pacers finally admitted that the TurBonis-focused team could not win and that they needed a rebuild. The team made the trade for Tyrese Haliburton, which surprised everyone around the league. This move rejuvenated the fans’ interest in the team and created a buzz heading into this season.
Now the biggest question was how would the Pacers look with Haliburton and Turner. The expectation by many was that this team would be in a position again for another high pick in the 2023 NBA draft. And for Turner, who will be turning 27 this March, the prospect of sitting out the playoffs again was not appealing. He was asked on the Adrian Wojnarowski podcast about the rumored trade between the Pacers and the Los Angeles Lakers.
5 trades the Indiana Pacers should make
There he made a disguised plea to the Lakers about trading for him. The trade obviously never came to fruition but it did stoke the fires that Turner wasn’t going to be sticking around Indiana much longer. The season continued to unfold and fans could see that Turner really enjoyed playing with his new teammates. But the question of whether would he re-sign or agree to an extension persisted.
The belief that he was not going to stick around was stoked again when it was reported that the Pacers had made multiple extension offers that Turner rebuffed. It looked even more likely that the Pacers would need to trade Turner after it appeared that he was unlikely to re-sign with the team.
The case for the Pacers keeping Myles Turner in the fold
As you watched the Pacers, it was easy to see that Turner enjoyed playing with Haliburton. It was clear that Haliburton’s style of play meshed and helped enhance Turner’s abilities. So, while the fire of a possible extension wasn’t completely burnt out, it certainly was down to its last remaining embers.
Turner is enjoying easily the best season of his career. It was coming at a perfect time for him as his contract was set to expire. And this past offseason the team tried to sign free agent Deandre Ayton. So Turner knew the Pacers had money to spend, were willing to spend big money on free agents and may not value him as much as they once did.
However, the Pacers had success early in this season, partly because of Turner’s career year. The team saw something special with this young group of players, which included their long-tenured franchise guy. The team’s priorities changed and now they didn’t want to let him go. He fit this team perfectly but they needed to win over Turner again.
Both sides agree to a compromise
Not many thought or saw the two-year extension happening at all. Turner wanted to sign a big-money contract and experience free agency. Instead, he agreed to a shorter-term deal that included a big pay raise this season and modest pay raises over the next two seasons.
According to Spotrac, Turner essentially doubled his 2022-23 base salary, from $17.5 million to $34.5 million. Then in 2023-24, he’ll make $21 million and in 2024-25, he’ll make $20 million. But this in-season pay raise vaults Turner up to the third highest-paid center in the NBA, just behind Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert and the Lakers’ Anthony Davis.
Turner gets the big money that he was searching for and the Pacers get to keep some cap flexibility for the next three seasons. This is good because Haliburton’s rookie contract is set to expire after next season. Initial expectations are that he will get a max contract.
The other thing Turner’s extension did was buy the Pacers time to prove to Turner that the organization is building a team that can at least reach the level of the Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West era — if not surpass that level and make it back to the NBA Finals.
The Pacers are armed with three first-round picks in the June draft, which some believe has a deep talent pool. The team also has two young ascending stars in Bennedict Mathurin and Haliburton to complement Turner.
Then there are other young players who could play important roles on the team, Aaron Nesmith, Chris Duarte and Andrew Nembhard. Regardless, Turner, Haliburton and Mathurin are the team’s core guys to build around, and the arrow of this franchise appears to still be pointing up.
And at the end of the extension if Turner feels the team isn’t at a level that can compete for an NBA title he is still young enough that he can earn another big contract and play on a championship-caliber team. For now, both sides have agreed to give each other some more time before coming to a final decision.