A surprising bit of NBA trade news was delivered on Wednesday afternoon. After failing to reach a contract extension with Buddy Hield, the Indiana Pacers are working together with the veteran sharpshooter to find him a new home via trade, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Hield has one year left on his contract at $18.6 million. It's unclear which teams have engaged Indiana in trade talks since Hield was made available, but the 30-year-old should have no shortage of suitors that need more shooting in advance of a likely playoff run next spring.
Could the New York Knicks make sense as a potential trade partner for the Pacers? What's could a Hield trade to the Knicks look like?
Perfect Buddy Hield trade Knicks must offer Pacers
New York gets: Buddy Hield
Indiana gets: Evan Fournier, 2024 second-round pick (via DET), 2025 second-round pick (via BKN), 2029 second-round pick (via IND or WAS)
The Knicks need shooting in the worst way possible. They took a good number of threes last season, but didn't make a whole lot of them. New York shot 35.7 threes per game last season, a healthy number that ranked eighth in the NBA. But the Knicks shot just 35.4% on those tries, 19th-best in the league.
Both of those numbers plummeted in the playoffs, however. New York attempted three fewer triples per game in the postseason, and its three-point accuracy fell all the way to an abysmal 29.2%. There's almost no way any team in today's NBA is going to generate a competent offense with that type of shooting, as evidenced by the Miami Heat crunching the floor against the Knicks in the second round, daring them to take and make threes.
Felt like the Knicks were trying their best to open up spacing for Randle/Brunson vs. Miami's early help. Randle has the Strus matchup in transition, look at the space he sees at the start. Backdown allows Miami to load up, good double from Bam. pic.twitter.com/soowSyLtUm
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) May 11, 2023
New York posted an offensive rating of 107.7 in the playoffs, per NBA.com. To put that in context, the Charlotte Hornets' offensive rating of 108.4 in the regular season was the worst in the NBA.
To the Knicks' credit, they have looked to address their spacing woes by signing Donte DiVincenzo away from the Golden State Warriors this offseason. He's a career 36.2% shooter from deep and is a plus defender.
DiVincenzo will be a boon for New York, but Hield is one of the best shooters in the NBA. Among players who shot at least 5.5 threes per game last season, only Tyrese Maxey and Steph Curry shot a better percentage from deep than Hield. Looking at only catch-and-shoot threes with that volume, just Michael Porter Jr. topped Hield's 41.9%. His gravity and movement would work wonders for a Knicks' offense that doesn't have much of either.
Whoever trades for Buddy Hield needs to run a lot of Spain pick and roll with Buddy as the back screener. The Pacers ran it a lot and here the Pacers run Spain leak where Buddy doesn't even set the back screen. The Bulls have a miscommunication and leaves Buddy open for three. pic.twitter.com/BeyV9olQxw
— DanielPM (@BullsNg12) September 21, 2023
If the price is right—and not having to give up a first-round pick would be a great price—then the Knicks should absolutely give the Pacers a call about trading for Hield.
The Pacers, on the other hand, are loaded on the perimeter even discounting Hield. Tyrese Haliburton, Andrew Nembhard, TJ McConnell, Bruce Brown and Bennedict Mathurin all deserve minutes in the backcourt this season, even if Brown and Mathurin also play some at small forward. Ben Sheppard, a rookie sharpshooter out of Belmont and one of Indiana's two first-round picks, probably isn't ready for NBA minutes right away, but will be at some point.
It would make sense why the Pacers are hesitant to pay Hield when they don't exactly need him to play major minutes in 2023-24 and going forward. Replacing him with Evan Fournier would solve that problem.
Fournier has been a starter for much of his career, but he was benched with the Knicks early last season after a rough start. Surely, Fournier would want to get on the court in Indiana, s, but he didn't rock the boat in New York and likely wouldn't in Indiana, either. Plus, Fournier has a history of knocking down threes, too. He's a career 37.9% three-point shooter on 5.2 threes per game. That's solid!
The Knicks could use an upgrade on Fournier, while the Pacers could use an insurance policy who's comfortable biding his time on the bench—dynamics this trade framework address. The money swap is nearly equal and the Indiana would get some extra second-round picks in its arsenal, including one from the Detroit Pistons next summer that could fall in the early 30s. That's good value for both sides of this trade.
Buddy Hield wants a trade and the Pacers seem willing to accommodate him. The Knicks need shooting. These teams already completed a trade earlier this offseason involving Obi Toppin. Perhaps they can work something out again, landing Hield in New York.