Indiana Pacers Reportedly Re-Sign Center Jalen Smith
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The Indiana Pacers have come to an agreement on a new contract with young center Jalen Smith, according to a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files, the multi-year deal is worth a total value of just over $9.5 million. That is roughly the maximum that Smith could get in a two-year deal from Indiana given the restrictions that the team had in re-signing the big man.

Those contract restrictions — the Pacers could only offer Smith a deal that started at $4.67 million in the first year — made a Smith deal with the Pacers seem unlikely. He was a bright spot for the blue and gold during a poor season, averaging 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game after being traded to the team in February.

The former number ten overall pick was a free agent just two seasons after being drafted, so combining his young age with his strong play made it seem as if the Pacers would be unable to retain the 22-year old. But they succeeded, and now the team in the Circle City adds another under-25 player to its long list of young talent.

“As a young player, you don’t want to make the wrong decision,” Smith said of his free agency options in April. He noted that fit and opportunity would be important factors in his choice, and the Pacers — a younger team not ready to contend yet — could provide the perfect environment for Smith to develop.

“He’s got an amazing opportunity here,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said last week.

Smith will now play a large role in Indiana’s frontcourt, one that already features Myles Turner, Isaiah Jackson, Oshae Brissett, Goga Bitadze, Terry Taylor, and the recently acquired Daniel Theis. The University of Maryland product can play at both the power forward and center spots, meaning he should be able to get minutes every night. But it’s possible that the Pacers make a move to create a more obvious hierarchy in the frontcourt.

Either way, Smith will help the Pacers, and it’s rare that a former top-ten pick becomes available as a free agent so early in their career — Indiana should be elated to have Smith on their roster for another year. And Smith was selected in the 2020 NBA Draft, which took place in November of that year as the COVID-19 pandemic altered the NBA calendar. He’s only been in the league for about 18 months — he has a lot of room to grow.

“I’m super excited,” Pacers guard Duane Washington said on Saturday of the team coming to an agreement with Smith. “Just to be able to keep a guy like that around, it’s going to be great for us. He wants to be around, he wants to build with what we’ve got going.”

After trading away Malcolm Brogdon and bringing back Jalen Smith, Indiana is turning toward a season defined by development. Keeping Smith on the roster cements that, and the Pacers still have more work to do this offseason to optimize their roster and get it trimmed down to the right size.

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