The 10-16 Indiana Pacers have been the most unlucky team in the NBA this season. They have a positive net rating (+1.6 using Cleaning the Glass and its garbage-time filters) and have outscored their opponents by a total of 22 points for the season. Overall they have the stats of a 14-12 team, but the Pacers are 3-12 in clutch games (within five points in the final five minutes). They just can’t close out tight games.
Indiana management and ownership have seen enough.
The Pacers are open to trading stars — including their biggest names — reports Shams Charania and Bob Kravitz of The Athletic.
In need of a new direction amid a 10-16 start to the season, the Indiana Pacers are moving toward a substantial rebuild and are expected to open up trade conversations around some of their veteran stalwarts, sources tell The Athletic.
Multiple sources said that the Pacers are receptive in trade dialogue with rival teams centered on potentially moving guard Caris LeVert and either two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis or center Myles Turner. All three players have frequently garnered significant interest from rival teams.
Those players will draw considerable interest, especially in a year when not many other quality players may be available. LeVert is the kind of two-way wing in demand across the league — Milwaukee comes to mind among contenders — although his 3-point shot is not a strength (25%) this season. Sabonis is an All-Star big man who can score, and Turner is a shot-blocking force in the paint who can also space the floor from 3.
Malcolm Brogdon just signed an extension and cannot be traded this season. T.J. Warren, not yet back from injury after missing most of last season, is reportedly not likely to be traded.
Indiana instantly becomes an interesting trade partner for Philadelphia and Ben Simmons — they have players who can help the 76ers now — and with the Trail Blazers, if they are considering trading Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum.
Historically, the Pacers have tried to retool on the fly, not looking to tank or bottom out. They re-signed veterans — for example as Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic — and tried to keep winning, even if that meant being stuck in the middle of the pack. This new report suggests long-time owner Herb Simon’s mindset has changed and he is on board with a rebuild. If so, what are the Pacers seeking in a trade for stars? With the Pacers already having the seventh-worst record this season, are they looking to bottom out this season and hope for some lottery luck, then bounce back quickly?
It’s unclear to rival teams how swift the Pacers could begin to make moves, but it’s expected the franchise will be patient in its trade approach and reach decisions based on the best offers that are made.
Many of the top contenders who might want to upgrade — the Nets, Lakers, Bucks, Heat — have traded away so many first-round picks and young players build the roster they have that there are not many available. Houston, Oklahoma City and other teams have stockpiled a lot of those picks and are rebuilding themselves. Would the Lakers trade Talen Horton-Tucker, or the Nets move Nick Claxton, to get a prime player to help them win now?
Expect the rumors to fly around the Pacers as the February trade deadline nears. But with Kevin Pritchard in charge of the front office, don’t expect any rash moves from Indiana. They will be patient.