The Indiana Pacers have amassed a respectable three championships throughout their franchise history. It is worth noting, however, that all three came in the span of four years, during what is easily the golden era of the Pacers back in the early 1970’s.
Indiana has since been doing everything it can to bring back the glory days. As part of this ultimate objective, they’ve puled the trigger on more than a few significant trade deals, five of which have emerged as the best transactions in franchise history.
5. Ron Artest and Brad Miller (2002)
Traded from the Chicago Bulls with Ron Mercer and Kevin Ollie for Travis Best, Norm Richardson, Jalen Rose and a future second-round pick
The first thing that likely came to mind when you saw the name of Ron Artest is the infamous “Malice in the Palace” brawl. Artest aka Metta World Peace was the instigator of that incident, which is widely considered as the most violent brawl in NBA history. Unfortunately for him (although not undeserved), his time in Indiana is most remembered for that particular incident, and it has overshadowed his contributions for the squad.
Artest was an outstanding defender, and the one and only time he was called up to the All-Star squad was during his stint with Indiana. The Pacers made it the playoffs every single season Artest was on the team.
As for Miller, while his two-year stint in Indiana was short-lived, he too got an All-Star nod while with the Pacers.
4. Detlef Schrempf (1989)
Traded from Dallas Mavericks with a future second-round pick for Herb Williams.
Detlef Schrempf played a significant role in the emergence of the Pacers as a legitimate playoffs team during the early 1990’s.
During the 1992-93 campaign, the 6-foot-10 forward put up 19.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 1.0 steal in what turned out to be his best season with the Pacers, earning him a spot on the All-Star squad. Despite Schrempf’s solid play, however, Indiana suffered their fourth consecutive first-round exit that season, and it prompted the front office to make some moves during the offseason.
Schrempf was offloaded and sent to the Seattle SuperSonics that same summer for Derrick McKey and Gerald Padio. McKey ended up being an important role player for the Pacers over the next eight years, while Paddio suited up for the Pacers just seven times in total. While acquiring Schrempf in ’89 was one of the organizations best trade deals ever, parting ways with him in ’93 could also be considered as one of their worst decisions in franchise history.
3. Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis (2017)
Traded from Oklahoma City Thunder for Paul George.
Losing Paul George was a huge blow for Indiana, but then again, it could be said that he already had half of his foot out the door at that point. The Pacers were no longer going to their superstar, and the fact that they got two outstanding players in the deal makes this move a very impressive one.
Oladipo’s star shined as soon as he arrived in Indy, making back-to-back All-Star appearances in his first two seasons with the team. In the process, he also established himself as one of the best (relatively) young combo guards in the league.
As for Domantas Sabonis, the son of the legendary Arvydas Sabonis, he too emerged as a tremendous young big for the Pacers. He managed his first All-Star appearance in 2020, during what was his third season with Indiana.
Together, Oladipo and Sabonis combined to be the central pieces of the Pacers’ core for years to come.
2. Jermaine O’Neal (2000)
Traded from the Portland Trail Blazers with Joe Kleine for Dale Davis.
Dale Davis was a huge part the ’90’s era in Indiana, and he was actually an All-Star when the Pacers traded him in 2000. However, what they got in return was a young and promising Jermaine O’Neal who turned out to be one of the greatest big men to have ever dawned the Pacers uniform.
O’Neal made six straight All-Star appearances while in Indiana, while also serving as the team’s cornerstone star playing alongside an aging Reggie Miller. O’Neal led the Pacers to six straight playoff appearances, including that memorable Eastern Conference Finals matchup against eventual champs, the Detroit Pistons.
1. Mark Jackson (1994, 1997)
’94: Traded from the Los Angeles Clippers with Greg Minor for Eric Piatkowski, Pooh Richardson and Malik Sealy.
’97: Traded from the Denver Nuggets with LaSale Thompson for Vincent Askew, Eddie Johnson, and two future second-round picks.
Mark Jackson makes it to the top of our list not only because he is considered to be one of the best playmakers in Pacers history, but also because Indiana traded for him twice on two separate occasions. A double whammy, if you will.
Jackson’s first stint for the Pacers started in 1994, and he admirably filled the role of the team’s starting point guard. He helped Indiana to back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Finals prior to parting ways with the team in 1996 as part of the trade centered around Jalen Rose.
The Pacers, however, liked Jackson so much that they traded for him again the following year. The 6-foot-1 floor general was a key cog in Indiana’s NBA Finals run in 2000 — their first in 25 years.