Indiana Pacers could become NBA Trade Deadline sellers

Isaiah J. Downing. USA TODAY Sports.

In a rather surprising rumor, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reported that the Indiana Pacers may be one of the biggest sellers at this year’s NBA Trade Deadline. News of this potential firesale first broke yesterday, and with the Trade Deadline being tomorrow, March 25th at 3pm EST, the Pacers will have to move quickly to find an appealing offer. The Pacers were swept in the first round of the 2020 NBA Bubble Playoffs by the Miami Heat in their Cinderella run to the NBA Finals, and promptly fired head coach Nate McMillan after the season. The Pacers started this season strongly, but have slipped to 19-23 and gone 4-6 in their last ten games. While this is good for 10th in the Eastern Conference standings, Pacers management likely won’t want to battle in the Play-In Tournament only to inevitably be bounced by the Nets or 76ers.

Goodwill reported that the Pacers were listening to offers on Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, and Aaron Holiday. This is after reports stating that teams were calling about Myles Turner, who the Celtics could have employed via a Gordon Hayward sign and trade. Let me begin by saying that it would be extremely unlikely that all four of these players are traded by tomorrow. I’d say there are greater odds that only one (or none) of them be moved. For a small-market team like the Pacers, to trade a near All-Star point guard in Brogdon, a two-time All-Star in Sabonis, and a possible Defensive Player of the Year in Turner, there would need to be massive returns in play for any of these players.

Brogdon is a former Rookie of the Year who is only in the second year of a four-year, $85 million contract. The 28 year-old point guard is averaging nearly 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists per game, on highly efficient 46%-40%-88% shooting splits. Brogdon has only missed two games this season, which is saying something given the notable injuries and safety protocols have impacted the Pacers. Brogdon’s contract is a good value for a player of his caliber in the prime of his career, and I genuinely don’t believe that he would be the player to go.

Sabonis has been an All-Star the past two seasons, and is in the first year of a four-year, $77 million contract. The 24 year-old PF/C is averaging 20-11-6 on 50%-31%-72% shooting splits. For his production, he’s on an extremely valuable contract, and has become a revelation for the Pacers with his passing ability and skill set. Players of Sabonis’ caliber don’t become available often, and when they do, it typically takes a Godfather offer to obtain them. While the Pacers might be searching for answers, trading their All-Star player probably isn’t the right decision.
Myles Turner is a player we’ve talked about time and time again on Celtics Life, and I still stand by my opinion that Danny Ainge should have taken him back in a Gordon Hayward sign and trade. Turner is a defensive stalwart who is in the second year of a four-year $70 million (up to $80 million with incentives) contract. The 24 year-old center is averaging 13-7-1 on 49%-33%-78% shooting splits, as well as 3.4 blocks and 1 steal per game. While the issues with playing Sabonis and Turner have been well-reported, both bring different qualities to the Pacers’ play on the court. Turner is obtainable but “only for the right offer,” and his contract is a little hefty. Sure, he brings value as a modern NBA big man, but he’s a complementary player at best at this point in his career. Finally, Aaron Holiday is the least flashy name of the bunch, and thus the most likely to be traded. The brother of NBA players Jrue and Justin, the youngest Holiday was drafted by the Pacers in 2018 with the 23rd pick in the first round. Holiday has fallen out of favor recently with the Pacers as of late, as the Pacers envision Caris LeVert as a ball-handler along with Brogdon. In his third season with the Pacers, Holiday is averaging 7-1-2 on 37%-33%-77% shooting splits. The 37% from the field isn’t great, even for a back-up guard, but Holiday has shown flashes in his three years as a role player. While Holiday is still on his rookie contract, the Pacers are looking for a first-round pick in return for any trades, which might be hard to acquire, unless a GM sees something in Holiday the Pacers themselves appear not to.

The Celtics are not directly tied any of these rumors, but it’s always interesting to hear about a conference rival looking to drastically change their roster. The Celtics could benefit from some things going their way in the ultra-tight Eastern Conference, so if a team unexpectedly becomes a seller, that’s one less team to worry about in the standings. It remains to be seen how serious the Pacers are about trading their star players, and the timing does seem rushed, especially as LeVert is only just beginning to play for the Pacers. However, this is the NBA, and when trades happen, they often gain traction very quickly. Less than 24 hours to go, Celtics fans, buckle up and hope for some fireworks.