Indiana Pacers big man Myles Turner has been the subject of trade rumors for almost his entire career. This past offseason alone, Turner was linked incessantly to the Los Angeles Lakers in a potential trade for Russell Westbrook and unprotected future first-round picks. Alas, the Lakers refused to part ways with their 2027 and 2029 first-rounders, and Turner entered the 2022-23 season still donning the jersey of the team that drafted him back in 2015.
However, it seems as if the Lakers have stiff competition for Turner's services, and they need not look further than their intracity rivals Los Angeles Clippers, who are also reportedly interested in swinging a trade for one of the league's best rim protectors.
In spite of Kawhi Leonard missing all but two games, the Clippers have gone 8-7, a solid, if unspectacular record. But for a team with championship aspirations, the level of play they've shown thus far this season doesn't bode well for their long-term prospects.
The Clippers own the league's second-worst offensive efficiency, mustering a mere 105.9 points per 100 possessions. Turner could be of help in that regard, as the Clippers need not sacrifice size for shooting, and vice versa, should they acquire the 6'11 center. Ivica Zubac is the only reliable traditional center on the roster as well after Isaiah Hartenstein, last season's backup, bolted for the New York Knicks, so an untimely injury to the Croatian center could mean trouble.
Nonetheless, it will be tricky for them to come up with an ideal deal for the Pacers center, especially with the Clippers front office in love with the team's makeup of versatile wings, who can make life for their opponents a living hell with an unstoppable small-ball outfit. But if they continue to play .500 basketball deep into the season, they may have no choice but to swing for the fences.
Here's the perfect offer the Clippers must make to acquire Myles Turner.
Clippers trade Robert Covington, Amir Coffey, Jason Preston and an unprotected 2028 first-round pick to the Pacers for Myles Turner
The Clippers have considerable depth on the wing, and they could perhaps consolidate that talent in exchange for one of the most unique players in the NBA in Myles Turner, who is capable of making threes at a consistent rate to go along with being one of the best shot-blockers in the association.
Robert Covington is the quintessential small-ball five in today's game, and he showed during his stint with the Houston Rockets in 2020 that he's more than capable of logging heavy minutes at perhaps the league's most physically demanding position. Through his first 13 games of the season though, Covington is logging his least amount of minutes since his rookie year, lost in the shuffle of the Clippers' plethora of talented wings.
Thus, LA could certainly stomach a potential Covington departure, especially when a player of Turner's caliber is acquired in return. Marcus Morris and Norman Powell are players the Clippers could dangle instead of Covington, but Morris and Powell's shot creation is extremely valuable to a team struggling to put the ball through the hoop.
On the other hand, the Pacers will want to target Terance Mann, but the Clippers will certainly want to retain his energy and tenacious defense at all costs. They know firsthand of Mann's ability to impact the game on both ends of the court, especially when he memorably scored 39 points in a closeout game against the Utah Jazz during the 2021 playoffs.
Enter Amir Coffey (who can only be traded starting January 15).
Coffey is more scoring-inclined than Mann, and he proved during the 2021-22 season, amid the lengthy absences of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, that he is capable of becoming an NBA rotation fixture. He averaged 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 30 games as a starter last season on a solid 48.1 percent shooting from the field (42.5 from deep on 5.3 attempts per night), and he will have plenty of opportunities to score the ball in Indiana should that opportunity arise.
Nevertheless, the Clippers will run into the same lack of future draft capital that the Lakers did, having mortgaged away a plethora of draft picks in the trade that brought Paul George to town. The earliest first-rounder the Clippers could dangle is their 2028 selection. That may not seem to be much of a return, given how the Pacers held out for two unprotected picks from the Lakers.
But the Pacers could end up shopping Covington further down the line for more draft capital, while also taking a chance on youngsters such as Coffey and Jason Preston, who hasn't carved out a rotation role in his brief professional career. It remains to be seen, however, if the Clippers deem it necessary to pull off a trade of such magnitude.