Pacers do not pick up team option on Solomon Hill for 2016-17

UPDATE: The Pacers did not pick up Solomon Hill’s option for the 2016-17 season, league sources confirmed to VigilantSports.com. (As Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports first reported.)


Solomon Hill understands his current situation. With the first week of NBA games complete, he’s out of the 10-man rotation after leading the team in total minutes played last season — and being the only Pacer to play in all 82 games.

Such is life in the NBA, where nothing — except for, well, most contracts — is guaranteed.

Solomon Hill averaged 7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in his first two years as a pro.

Solomon Hill averaged 7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in his first two years as a pro.

“I’m probably at the bottom rotation, bottom of the depth chart,” Hill said of his current role. “Just there if you need me.”

The situation would not be easy for anyone, going from a 29-minutes-per-game player to not even taking off one’s warmups.

“Last year was great as far as individual [experience] but nothing really transpired out of that,” he said. The team just missed the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.

The Pacers have until 11:59 p.m. ET to decide whether or not to pick up the fourth year team-option on Hill’s rookie deal worth $2.3 million.

“I wasn’t even thinking about that, to tell you the truth,” he said when I asked him about it in September at media day. “That stuff will handle itself. One thing I can control is my effort and my ability to play the game of basketball. I never look at it as being like a crucial time. I just want to win. That’s the biggest thing for me.”

[Pacers discuss 0-3 start]

For next season, the Pacers have nine fully-guaranteed contracts: Paul George, Monta Ellis, George Hill, Rodney Stuckey, C.J. Miles, Lavoy Allen, Myles Turner, Joe Young, and Rakeem Christmas. Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, and Ian Mahinmi are off the books and become free agents, and both Glenn Robinson III and Shayne Whittington have some guaranteed money.

That leaves Hill, who also plays at the wing spot where there’s quite the logjam. So much so that the intriguing Robinson III, who was the team’s second-leading scorer in preseason, has been on the inactive list and Hill hasn’t played meaningful minutes.

I asked Hill again on Saturday if the team had indicated one way or another what they plan to do with his rookie deal.

“At the rate in which I’m playing, I’m kind of guessing what will happen, which is not a bad thing at all,” he said.

Should the Pacers not exercise the fourth-year option on Hill, he would become an unrestricted free agent, meaning he’s free to sign with any team in free agency next July. That’s also when more money will be available because the NBA’s new nine-year, $24 billion TV deal goes into effect.

2015-11-02 Solo stat line

Solomon Hill’s stat line is all zeros except for minutes three games into the season.

Now is a critical time for his development. He’s still young (24) and not yet in the peak years of his career. In July, he played on the team’s Summer League squad but left a lot to be desired. (4.7 points per game on 4-of-22 shooting.)

“I think it’s a critical year for a lot of guys,” Pacers President Larry Bird said at media day. “… He had a lot this summer to work out on and we’ll see how it pans out.”

The Pacers liked Hill, a four-year player at the University of Arizona, for his maturity and defense. He’s grown in those areas but still has work to be do.

His jump shot looks improved, a credit to his offseason work at P3 in Santa Barbara — and with shooting coach Hal Wissel. Last season, he shot just under 40 percent from the field and just 32.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Hill, the Pacers’ first-round pick in 2013 (23), did not play in the first two games and was only in for the final two minutes of the team’s loss Saturday to the Utah Jazz after head coach Frank Vogel waived the white flag.

“Of course [it’s difficult]. It is what it is. Stuff happens for reasons,” Hill continued. “I can only control what I can control and that’s making sure I’m ready when my name is called. Anything else is out of my hands. I’m not going to stress about stuff that’s out of hands right now.”

Because he’s not getting playing time in games, Hill has raised his workload.

He is staying longer after practice to shoot. Before games, he’s going through a pregame warmup with the early guys — their timeslots are spaced out so the players can efficiently get shots up — and then his scheduled time, plus he’s lifting weights everyday.

Hill’s in a tough spot, on the outside looking in. But he at least appears to have the right attitude about it, only being concerned about what he has control of and working hard. The Pacers could use more at the defensive end so it’s imperative that he stays ready.

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