There is roughly a week till the NBA Trade Deadline. We expect the Indiana Pacers to focus on roster-building. They should explore deals that can both strengthen and balance their core rotation. This is especially after the team extended Myles Turner’s contract. Here we will look at what potential 2023 NBA trade deadline move the Pacers would regret.
Keep in mind that the Pacers’ roster is unbalanced. As things stand, they have an abundance of centers and wings that are better suited as shooting guards. The team needs a bigger forward who is also capable of defending frontcourt players and scoring.
Despite a tough schedule and the absence of Tyrese Haliburton the past few weeks, the Pacers are still in playoff contention. That’s thanks mainly to the play-in format. However, we actually expect them to miss the postseason bus. Right now, the Pacers have a 24-28 win-loss record. That’s good enough for 10th place in the East with the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors right behind them. Both the Bulls and Raptors could make runs and move up the standings in the last couple of months of the regular season.
Of course, the trade deadline could change these prospects. The Pacers have a variety of options available. They can trade for guys like Toronto’s OG Anunoby, Atlanta’s John Collins, or even New York’s Obi Toppin. Any of those could certainly improve the Pacers’ playing rotation in the short and long term.
With all these said, let’s look at what potential 2023 NBA trade deadline move the Pacers would regret.
Pacers keep Turner and Hield
Remember that the Pacers’ playoff prospects have recently taken a hit due to injury. As we said, they are on the brink of falling out of the top 10 in the Eastern Conference. As Haliburton slowly returns to action, the team may need to consider trading some of their assets to bolster their future draft picks and secure more young top-shelf talent. The Pacers need to build around Haliburton and rookie Bennedict Mathurin. Nobody else — not Turner or Buddy Hield.
Again, take note that the Pacers also have significant cap space. They can definitely leverage that to facilitate other teams’ transactions in exchange for draft picks or up-and-coming prospects.
On the flip side, they also have the option to hold on to their players. However, we do not recommend that at all. Keeping all of their current players just won’t move the needle for this squad. It certainly won’t elevate their playoff positioning. Keep in mind also that Hield is already 30 years old. For sure, he doesn’t fit the team’s development timeline when it comes to Haliburton and Mathurin.
three straight games with 20+ points for Bennedict Mathurin.🔥
he's leading the league in bench scoring and has the most 20+ point games off the bench (19) this season. pic.twitter.com/C5Xp0R2pMF
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 26, 2023
We would, however, love to see the Pacers utilize both Turner and Hield to accumulate other teams’ draft picks, particularly after 2023.
The wrinkle here is that extending Turner’s contract has certainly limited his trade availability. However, it still allows him to be traded due to the extension’s short duration and minimal salary increase. Keep in mind that Turner was a hot commodity on the trade market, with the Lakers, Clippers, and Knicks all showing interest.
The potential issue is if the NBA sees Turner’s renegotiated salary ($35.1 million) as a circumvention of the salary cap. Take note that the extension reduces the Pacers’ future salary cap flexibility. Despite this, the Pacers have enough room ($10.7 million) to absorb contracts in trades or even act as a third team.
Indiana fans may not like this, though. Remember that the Pacers have been a surprising playoff contender. People perceived them as a potential tanking team for Victor Wembanyama. We anticipated Indiana to trade players like Turner, Hield, and even Chris Duarte for draft capital much earlier in the season. Before Haliburton’s injury, however, the Pacers seemed to be committed to staying competitive while still giving their young players bigger roles.
It really comes down to something simple. The regrettable move here is for the Pacers to keep both Turner and Hield. Trade one or trade both. Just don’t keep both. We’ve seen this team at its best this season. It all goes downhill from here even with Haliburton’s return. The Pacers need change, not stability. Commit to the Haliburton-Mathurin tandem. Everyone else should be expendable.