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The Indiana Pacers are playing the waiting game when it comes to Thad Young.
The Pacers forward, who turned 30 years old Thursday, has until a week from today to inform the team whether he is exercising the $13.76 player option on his contract.
“We’ve had a few conversations with his agent, but at the end of the day, it’s his decision,” Pacers President Kevin Pritchard said Thursday after the draft, according to a report by Scott Agnes of Vigilant Sports. “We’d like to have him back. We’d like to keep this core back.
“I think he’s exploring what he can get, but we don’t have that indication either way.”
Young averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 81 games for the Pacers last season, being held out of the regular-season finale. The 11-year veteran was voted a co-captain with Myles Turner.
Guard Cory Joseph picked up his player option with Indiana and the team has said it wants to bring back starting point guard Darren Collison.
Pritchard said he estimates Indiana will have roughly $20 million in cap space should Young opt in. If he opts out, that number will increase. He said the core group that “wildly overachieved” last season is wanted back. Indiana took eventual Eastern Conference champion Cleveland to seven games in a first-round playoff series this spring, but ultimately lacked enough offensive production to finish the deed.
“Where we really get better is July 1,” Pritchard said, referencing the start of the NBA’s free-agency period. “That’s where this is set up to, when we traded Paul (George) and we brought in Domas (Sabonis) and Victor (Oladipo), part of that whole equation was being able to setup for $20 million in cap space on July 1.
“I’m not saying we’re going to sign a guy. I think there could be uneven trades; a lot of things could happen with that.”
Players such as Young are invaluable to a contending team such as the Pacers, Pritchard said.
“If you just took Thad and said, ‘Let’s look at his points and rebounds and all of that,’ you’d say he’s a pretty good player,” Pritchard said at a press conference May 1. “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 inordinate amount of value.”