The Indiana Pacers are all in a full-time rebuild since the past season after they traded away All-Star Domantas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings receiving back young point Tyrese Haliburton.
The Pacers are obviously looking to lower their used salary as a team, despite trying to lure away Deandre Ayton from Phoenix a few weeks back. Lately, veterans Buddy Hield and Myles Turner have been involved in trade rumors.
The Pacers negotiated a trade with the Lakers but the negotiations fell through. According to The Athletic, the Pacers are actively shopping both Hield and Turner. However, they’re not going to trade them both away for what the Lakers offered.
Per the report, Indiana rejected an offer consisted of Russell Westbrook, a future first-rounder and two second-round picks, per Bob Kravitz of The Athletic.
“Team president Kevin Pritchard won’t accept a lousy deal to move on from them — witness Indiana’s recent refusal to make a trade with the Lakers, who were offering Russell Westbrook, a first-rounder in 2027, and two second-rounders.”
Buddy Hield and Myles Turner are two valuable assets and it’s likely Indiana can find a better deal elsewhere. Hield is one of the best shooters in the league the last few years, while Turner is a defensive anchor that can bolster any teams play on the one side of the ball.
The Pacers have no reason to hurry, despite the fact that both players are entering the last year of their deal. The rebuilding Indiana has a strong offseason so far with the addition of the no.6 overall pick Ben Mathurin and three more prospects from the draft.
Mathurin looked fantastic in Summer League and should provide a wing/guard scoring option with playmaking and defensive upside. In addition, they offloaded Malcolm Brogdon’s contract and netted a first-rounder in next year’s draft.
Next in line Turner, Hield
Several teams will likely express interest in Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, who are on expiring deals. The Lakers are the no.1 potential destination, especially for Hield as Los Angeles is desperately looking to add shooting.
As for Turner, the Charlotte Hornets, also a desperate team to win now, were mentioned as a potential destination for Turner. Turner can be a great addition for the Hornets, who were one of the worst defenses in the league last season.
The Pacers have many options, having also the financial flexibility to move on different offseason paths ahead of the 2022-23 season. Even with Turner and Hield contracts, Indiana is still under the salary cap with Total Taxable Salaries of 94M.
The Pacers could sign a restricted free agent to an offer sheet (as they tried to do with Ayton), take on bad contract with picks attached, swing a sign-and-trade involving Turner or even just take their cap space into the season.
In the latter case, they will patiently wait for another team trying to dump a big contract along with future picks. Obviously, the Pacers are focused on acquiring picks that will come to fruition the next two or three years.
As a result, with the Lakers having available only the 2027 and 2029 picks, they weren’t able to make Indiana agree to trade Hield and Turner. It seems Indiana wants to build around Tyrese Haliburton and their timeline is focused on the promising point guard.
Arizona product Bennedict Mathurin projects as a strong complement for Tyrese Haliburton, who officially has the keys to the offense going forward. As an off-ball option Mathurin could thrive alongside Haliburton.
The Pacers did well to bring back Jalen Smith. The No. 10 pick in 2020, cast off by the Suns, averaged 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds across 22 games with Indiana last season. The 22-year-old stretch forward also canned 37.3 percent of his triples.
Smith received a two-year contract from the Pacers and if he can retain that kind of level of play for longer stints then he will become a huge asset for the young Indiana squad. The franchise also nabbed veteran Daniel Theis and wing Aaron Nesmith in Brogdon’s deal.
Theis could be a great asset ahead of the season and a much-needed veteran presence for the Pacers’ young core until another NBA team come to trade for him. At the same, NCAA sensation Aaron Nesmith will have more time on the court to prove himself in the NBA.
Indiana’s biggest strength is its young core, highlighted by Haliburton and Mathurin, but its most obvious weakness is lack of wing depth. They will definitely look to address that need in a potential deal for one of their team’s expiring contract.
The most interesting storyline of the next few weeks will be the Hield and Turner trade sweepstakes as Indiana is waiting for the best possible offer to trade its two veteran players.