The Indiana Pacers need to hit the hard reset button this offseason

Indiana Pacers Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Indiana Pacers Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

It’s time for the Indiana Pacers to hit the hard reset. 

No one in Orlando right now is regretting the trade deadline moves that completely blew up their roster. The Orlando Magic had league-average talent that didn’t fit together and parlayed it into a bevy of attractive draft picks and young players with high upside.

The Indiana Pacers, despite their below .500 record, boast better than league-average talent that actually does mostly fit together when healthy, but as NBA history has taught us, teams don’t make deep playoff runs without All-NBA players.

Before their dirty (rancid!) laundry was publicly aired in a scathing expose last week by Bleacher Report, the Pacers had a pretty solid reason to consolidate two top 25 players and three more top 50-ish players into draft picks and young studs. Now there’s almost no reason not to.

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The Indiana Pacers should follow what the Orlando Magic did at the NBA Trade Deadline

Orlando’s asset collection for a responsible rebuild should be easy for Indiana to top. As a refresher:

  1. Orlando traded Nikola Vucevic (and the unplayable Al-Farouq Aminu) for Otto Porter’s expiring salary, Wendell Carter Jr., and two lightly protected first-round picks. Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon should each fetch similar returns. 
  2. Orlando also traded Aaron Gordon for salary cap fillers Gary Clark and Gary Harris and prospect R.J. Hampton and a lightly protected 2025 first-round pick. Possessing superior defensive prowess (if slightly lower offensive talent) the NBA’s leading shot-blocker Myles Turner should fetch a similar return.
  3. Lastly, Orlando traded the expiring contract of Evan Fournier for Jeff Teague’s expiring salary and two second-round picks. The oft-injured microwave scorers T.J. Warren (free agent in 2022) and Caris LeVert (2023) should each easily fetch more.

Of course, having five good players, as opposed to Orlando’s three, means Indiana can turn down crummy offers and still match Orlando’s asset collection. And if they get great offers for four or even five guys, they’ll be better situated than anyone but the Oklahoma City Thunder for a rebuild.

Maybe the New York Knicks, who haven’t had a great point guard this millennium, would give up assets and picks for Brogdon. Maybe the Miami Heat can’t wait on Tyler Herro to become a reliable secondary option and would want Sabonis to fill this role, or would want Turner to form an elite defensive middle with Bam Adebayo.

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2021 first-round pick should be in play – whether it stays with the Wolves (top 3 protected) or Warriors, both of whom have to prove to franchise players that they are not on a treadmill.

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With under a handful of games left, the Pacers are all but guaranteed to finish the season as the 9th or 10th seed, meaning they’d have to go 2-0 to even qualify for the playoffs. Likely armed with their own lottery pick, this summer presents the opportunity to get a few more picks for players who are clearly running on a treadmill in Indiana.