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Decision By Thaddeus Young Starts Pacers Decision-Making Process

The player option decision by Thaddeus Young will begin the decision-making process for the Pacers this summer.

Joe Robbins | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – Cory Joseph has exercised his player option with the Pacers for the 2018-19 season.

Will Thaddeus Young do the same?

That’s where the offseason domino begins for the Pacers, who do have some flexibility with how active they choose to be this summer.

Young, who turns 30 years old next month, has a $13.7 million player option with the Pacers for a 3rd season in Indiana.

He has until the end of June to opt in for another campaign with the Pacers, or opt out and become a free agent after 11 seasons in the NBA.

“Our decision matrix starts with Thad Young,” team president Kevin Pritchard says. “We’ve talked a lot about if he comes back and if he does not. He’s indicated he loves the organization. Usually when a guy is in a leadership role and he grows into becoming a real good player who is willing to mentor others, then he’s found a home usually. I hope he’s found a home for the next couple of years. We hope that.”

Young has been a key cog for the Pacers. He’s been one of the few constants in a major culture transition over the past 2 seasons.

In not missing a game last season due to injury, Young averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds in 32.2 minutes played per game.

Pritchard points out the evolution in Young being more willing to use his voice as something that was important this past season, especially in making sure a player like Lance Stephenson wouldn't deviate too much from the task at hand.

“Last year (2016-17) with Thad we couldn’t get him to talk,” Pritchard says of Young’s first season in Indiana, playing alongside Paul George. “Now he doesn’t shut up, in a good way.

“His leadership was really needed this year. His leadership is he didn’t talk a lot in the locker room, but when he said something it was really powerful. Al (Jefferson) and Thad were never going to let that locker room get wrong.”

If it were up to the Pacers, they would like for Young to decide to return in 2018-19.

But Pritchard has made it clear that he will not be going out of his way to sway Young into exercising that player option.

“That’s Thad’s choice,” Pritchard says. “I’m always reluctant to give too much in terms of what we want from that player because I don’t want to talk a player into it and then, ‘I do this and I didn’t want to do that.’

"I’ll step back from that. I’ll give a little bit of feedback. At the end of the day, I want Thad to say, 'This is what I want and it’s because of these reasons.' And then let it play out. I don’t want to be influencing.”

Don’t let Pritchard’s hesitancy in trying to convince Young one way or another influence the Pacers’ opinion on one of their glue guys.

Yes, Pritchard has said finding a true stretch-4 (Young shot 32 percent from 3 last season) could really help this team.

And Young, going into the final stretch of his career, might want a longer-term deal this summer.

But the natural fit of Young and Pacers with each other has been expressed from both parties.

“I love Thad,” Prtichard says. “He took a huge role for us in leadership and was amazing at that. I have very strong feelings for that.

“If you took Thad and took just his points and rebounds and all of that, you would say he’s a pretty good player. But then when you are around him and what he did with his leadership this year and made sure we stayed together. He brings an ordinate amount of value.”

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