At their best, the Indiana Pacers were among the best in the Eastern Conference. Early in January, they had a 23-18 win-loss record. That was ninth best in the league and sixth best in the East. Since then, however, they have gone 1-8, and have sunk to ninth place in the conference. Should they plug their roster’s holes and make a playoff push, or should they deal some players for additional draft picks? Here we will look at the dream scenario that the Pacers are hoping for as we close in on the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline.

On one hand, the Pacers can fully commit to their current overachieving roster and make moves to contend for the playoffs. On the other hand, they can focus on rebuilding by trading key assets. Despite being projected for a rebuilding year after losing key players, the team has exceeded expectations. In fact, Indiana is currently competing for a top-six spot in the Eastern Conference. With $27.8 million in cap space, two first-round picks from Cleveland and Boston, and their own first-round picks for the next seven years, the team also has the option to acquire more draft picks by taking on unwanted salary from other teams.

The Pacers have the option to trade Myles Turner, who is having a career season with averages of 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 55.2 percent field goal shooting. Take note that he is on an expiring $18 million contract. Turner’s strong performance this season has actually increased his trade value. However, it remains to be seen if there are teams in need of a center upgrade and willing to meet Indiana’s steep asking price.

Teams such as the Pelicans, Mavs, Knicks, Blazers, and Raptors could be potential trade partners. All of those teams should have enough draft equity to make a deal. If not traded, Turner would likely be a candidate for renegotiation and extension. That could see his $18 million salary this season raised to as much as $37.1 million. This would give him the incentive to extend now while also allowing the Pacers to reach the salary floor after the deadline.

Another player that could be of interest for trade is Buddy Hield. Interestingly enough, he is also having a career-best season. Right now, Hield is averaging 3.9 three-pointers per game and a shooting percentage of 42.6 percent from beyond the arc. His improved performance and decreasing salary could make him an attractive option for other teams. Like Turner, the Pacers could consider extending Hield’s contract if they see him as part of their future plans. He would be eligible to extend this off-season for up to four years and $103.6 million. Hield will also be eligible for renegotiation and extension this off-season.

Take note that the Pacers are projected to have $50 million in cap space with 11 players and 3 first-round picks. There is even a possibility that they could renegotiate and extend both Turner and Hield in the coming months. However, they should only do this if they’re really going all-in on both guys being part of Indiana’s future.

Which way will they go?

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Now let’s look at the Pacers’ dream scenario for the 2023 NBA trade deadline.

Pacers keep Turner and Hield and see how far they can go

In truth, we’d love to see how far the Pacers can actually overachieve this season.

Turner has been the subject of trade discussions for several seasons now anyway. However, the Pacers have shown a strong desire to keep him on their roster for the long term. The team is more likely to explore trade options for players such as Goga Bitadze and Chris Duarte rather than Turner.

Keep in mind as well that star player Tyrese Haliburton has been out since January 11th. He hopes to return in early February. Is that too late for this squad already? Can they remain in contention for a top-six spot by the time he returns?

Remember that the Pacers have been struggling in his absence. They are currently in danger of falling out of the top 10 in the Eastern Conference. This is why some believe it would be wise for the team to focus on rebuilding by trading players for draft picks and assets. They could even extend Haliburton’s recovery period to increase the value of their own draft pick in June. Maybe they can even acquire another top-notch talent while having a significant amount of cap space, potentially reaching $60 million. This number could also increase if they trade Hield for expiring contracts.

Still, the Pacers should carefully consider any trade offers for players like Hield and Turner. If the offers are commensurate to the value of both players, we’d actually like the Pacers to keep them instead.

For us, Indiana’s dream scenario is to not blow this roster up. Give this the best possible shot to see how far they can go. They’ve already surpassed any and all expectations. Why stop now? In any case, if they still want a rebuild, they can let both Turner and Hield go after the season for more cap space anyway.