Rakeem Christmas was not going to be part of the Cavaliers roster — they are win-now, he is a guy in need of development.
Indiana has time to develop guys, so they have traded for him. The Pacers announced the move, saying they gave up the future second-round pick they acquired in the Roy Hibbert trade.
“We really liked Rakeem when he came in for pre-draft workouts,” Pacers basketball operations guru Larry Bird said in a statement. “He is a solid player who was a contributor all four years at Syracuse and we look forward to having him on our team.”
Christmas showed flashes of good defense and shot blocking, plus a little offense, at Summer League. However, he shot 33.3 percent and didn’t exactly blow any doors off. He’s a guy who spent four years at Syracuse and still needs to develop his game.
Christmas is 6’10” and incredibly long — a 7’5” wingspan. He was a shot blocker camped in the middle of the Syracuse zone in college, but he has the body to defend in the NBA post. He seemed to struggle against more athletic, smaller players.
For a Pacers team that just moved Hibbert from the middle of their defense, taking a flier on Christmas makes some sense. We’ll see if he can make the roster behind Jordan Hill, Myles Turner and Ian Mahinmi. That seems a long shot, but he’s got a better chance there than Cleveland.