Not having Victor Oladipo was obviously going to make it arguably impossible for the Pacers to be able to defeat a talented team like the Celtics, they likely would have been eliminated anyways. The fact of the matter is that Indiana will need to improve their roster if they plan to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs in the near future.
What held the Pacers back against the Celtics begins with their lack of playmaking. They simply did not have enough players that can consistently break down a defense off the dribble and was a problem for them in their previous post-season appearance against the Cleveland Cavaliers as well. It also wouldn’t hurt to add more reliable perimeter shooting threats, but there is no way around their need for more playmaking.
Going through the trade market may be the Pacers’ best option given that they are ‘not in the mix for top-tier free agents’ according to the IndyStar. Things could change after teams are allowed to communicate with free agents, but Indiana has never been much of a free agent destinations nevertheless. Banking on that changing is probably not the best course of action.
Here are three ideal trade targets for the Pacers:
3. T.J. Warren
It seems odd that a 25-year-old forward that has shown real versatility as a scorer could be acquired for good value via trade. That could be the case for T.J. Warren given the landscape of the Phoenix Suns’ roster. There probably won’t be room for Warren after the NBA Draft with Josh Jackson still at the helm and Kelly Oubre Jr. likely re-signing with the team.
Warren dealt with injuries last season that allowed him to play for only 43 games but he was impressive when he was on the floor. He managed to average 18 points (48.6% FG, 42.8% 3P, 81.5% FT), 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers during the 2018-19 season. While his numbers were achieved on a bad team, he still did it with great efficiency.
The greatest appeal about acquiring Warren is that he can play both forward positions and he is under contract through the 2021-22 season as a result of a four-year, $50 million extension that he signed in 2017. The Pacers could maximize their playmaking by rolling out lineups with him as a small ball power forward while benefiting from the rim protection of Myles Turner on the other end.
There is also no guarantee that Bojan Bogdanovic will be back with the team next season considering how he will be an unrestricted free agent. If they ultimately had to replace Bogdanovic, they would greatly benefit from acquiring a player like Warren. The free agency market lacks realistic options that would be better.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to offer the 18th overall pick in the upcoming draft for Warren given that it is a weak draft. Having a player like Warren who is just reaching his prime and is a proven player would be more of a benefit for the future than making a selection that would likely be at a position that they already have a prospect.
2. Jrue Holiday
It is unclear what the New Orleans Pelicans will end up deciding to do with their roster this summer. While it is unlikely that they will be looking to trade Jrue Holiday in part of any potential rebuilding process, it doesn’t mean that the Pacers shouldn’t at least make a few phone calls. The worst that could happen is that they just move onto a new target.
Despite not receiving an All-Star nod, it was a career-year for Jrue Holiday. He appeared in 67 regular season games and averaged 21.2 points (47.2% FG, 32.5% 3P, 76.8% FT), 5.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 3.1 turnovers. It’s rare to find a player that can score and generate assists at a high volume while providing an elite defensive impact like Holiday.
The Pacers would likely need to be willing to begin a trade package with Domantas Sabonis while also being willing to include a prospect like Aaron Holiday. There would probably be a requirement of draft compensation as well. The price that would be required would almost certainly be worthwhile for Indiana given how much impact Jrue’s all-around skill-set makes.
The thought of going from Darren Collison to Holiday on the defensive end of the floor with Myles Turner manning the middle should be enough to entice the Pacers. Their defensive potential would improve drastically and that could lead to truly impressive results given that they produced the league’s third best defensive rating last season.
There would be a needed improvement to the Pacers’ playmaking capabilities by acquiring Holiday as well. They need someone that can not only create his own shot, but create favorable scoring opportunities for his teammates and that’s exactly what Holiday would bring. Managing to improve scoring, facilitation, and defensive impact is a rare combination.
1. Bradley Beal
The Washington Wizards appear to be headed for yet another bad season with John Wall recovering from a season-ending surgery and they likely won’t be able to improve their roster much. Those circumstances could be ideal for the Pacers to try to gauge the Wizards’ interest in trading away Bradley Beal to help rebuild.
Beal managed to earn his second consecutive All-Star appearance and played in all 82 regular season games in back-to-back seasons. He produced sensational averages of 25.6 points (47.5% FG, 35.1% 3P, 80.8% FT), 5.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 2.7 turnovers. He managed to step up in a major way while Wall was sidelined.
This would be another trade idea that would require the Pacers to be willing to part with young players like Sabonis and Holiday along with draft compensation. The asking price would be expensive but it would be worthwhile. There is a real need for more offensive firepower and adding a versatile threat that makes plays with the ball at a high-level and thrives off the ball like Beal would make a strong impact.
While Beal and Oladipo both typically play at the shooting guard spot, they could share the backcourt duties together. There wouldn’t be a need for a traditional point guard that orchestrates the offense with two high-volume scoring guards. Indiana’s system is relatively basic and is typically heavily oriented around high pick-and-roll sequences anyways.
The main concern about potentially acquiring a player like Beal would be that the timeline doesn’t synch up well enough. There are two seasons left on his contract and it may be tough to convince him to stay next season if Oladipo does not play at a high-level after he returns to the lineup. As long as long as the team doesn’t deplete itself too much after acquiring Beal and free agency, they should be able to continue to be successful enough regardless.