The Indiana Pacers are finally embarking on a long-overdue rebuild. Shams Charania and Bob Kravitz reported today for The Athletic that the Pacers will be taking trade calls on their three best players-- Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert, and Myles Turner.
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.
Of that trio, Sabonis will be most sought after. He's a two-time All-Star and a walking double-double on a reasonable contract, averaging 17.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists this year-- and those numbers are lower than last year. His defense has never been better than average, but Sabonis' growth as a playmaker over the last few years has been notable and he could be a big help in the right spot. He is only 25 years-old and making $18.5 million this year and with a deal that'll stretch until the 2024 offseason around the same salary. He is the kind of tertiary piece teams on the precipice of contention will pursue.
So here are four of those teams.
The Celtics have long been rumored to be interested in one of the two Pacers' big men, and Sabonis would fill a need as an offensive playmaker who takes the load off Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The problem: Boston isn't overflowing with assets like in years past and Sabonis' contract wouldn't fit into the TPE generated by the Evan Fournier trade. Which means they'd be forced to give up Brown unless Indy was interested in Al Horford and pieces, which seems unlikely. Boston doesn't spring for it if that's the case. But if the Pacers are willing to sell low for whatever reason, Brad Stevens will be giving them a call.
Golden State Warriors
Sabonis would be an absolute monster in Golden State's system. The Warriors don't have much incentive to blow up the league's most dangerous team, but Bob Myers is a smart dude who won't hesitate to make a big move if it helps the team's championship contention this year. And Sabonis absolutely would, no doubt about it. He could be used as a hub at the elbow to dish to Golden State's shooters and Draymond Green can easily cover for his deficiencies at the other end. The question is if the Pacers would be interested in a package that would look like James Wiseman, Jordan Poole, and Jonathan Kuminga/Moses Moody, which is one of the few ways Golden State can fit Sabonis under the cap. It's a steep price for the Warriors in every sense, but Sabonis is still young and an established All-Star. They'd have to think long and hard about that.
The Raptors do not seem particularly interested in a prolonged rebuild and need depth in the frontcourt badly. Nick Nurse would have a blast utilizing Sabonis' skills in tandem with Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. Conveniently, Toronto has a matching salary on the books with Goran Dragic, who doesn't look like he'll play for the Raptors and won't step onto the court again until he's traded. The Raptors don't have a ton to offer otherwise, though-- they certainly aren't going to offer up No. 4 overall pick Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. is ineligible to be traded until January 14. If a package of Dragic, Precious Achiuwa, and a few draft picks gets it done, Toronto should be all over it.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers needed a roster shakeup as badly as Indiana over the last few years, and both teams could help each other out here. Sabonis would give Damian Lillard the kind of help he wants; he doesn't solve the defensive issues immediately but is more mobile than Jusuf Nurkic and brings an entirely different element offensively to the table. If Portland wanted to get really crazy, they could send C.J. McCollum to the Pacers in exchange for Sabonis and another big deal, like Jeremy Lamb. Indiana could then pivot and auction off McCollum while the Blazers have a reconfigured starting lineup. It might not change things drastically for Portland, but it's the kind of move a small-market team needs to make to convince their superstar to stick around.