The Sacramento Kings made the second blockbuster trade of the day on Tuesday, following up the C.J. McCollum deal with their own groundshaking transaction. Sacramento sent Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, and Tristian Thompson to the Indiana Pacers for Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, and Justin Holiday.
It's a monumental trade that changes both franchises. We'll leave to the experts if it's for the better or worse. But one thing is almost certain: the Pacers aren't done making moves yet.
Haliburton is the crown jewel of the deadline for Indy. He's young, on a cost-controlled contract, and widely viewed as one of the better young players in the league. He's not going anywhere. Everyone else, though? Definitely still available. Specifically, one Buddy Hield.
Hield was sent out of Sacramento because he has a big contract (in the second year of a four-year, $94 million deal) and was not exactly a happy camper while with the Kings. But the man can shoot the lights out and earned that contract as one of the league's best marksman from deep. This year, Hield is averaging nine shots from three per game and hitting 36 percent of them. That's slightly above league average, which doesn't justify Hield's salary, but it's by far the lowest percentage of his career and there is reason to believe he'll get back to hovering around 40 percent from beyond the arc by season's end.
Hield is a useful player but the Pacers aren't looking to win right now. They'll shop Hield around to the highest bidder because every team in contention can use the kind of shooting he can provide. Hield is making $22 million this season and his salary will have to be matched in any potential transaction, which narrows down the potential list of suitors. Here are the possible trade destinations for Hield that could come to be in the few days before the deadline on Thursday.
The Celtics need shooters and they need them bad. Boston is one of the league's best defensive teams but struggle mightily in late-game situations, where opposing defenses swarm Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown because they are not even the slightest bit afraid of anybody else making a shot. Hield would walk into the building as Boston's best shooter and it wouldn't be particularly close, especially the way Tatum has shot the rock this year.
Would Boston's potential trade offer be enough is the question. They can make salary match fairly easily; Al Horford's making $27 million this year but his salary next year is only partially guaranteed, which means he's a possible trade piece despite his low utility. If Indy doesn't want a package around Horford and assets, the Celtics could cobble together a cadre of wings to make a deal. Josh Richardson, Aaron Neismith, Romeo Langford, and draft compensation could appeal to a team clearly in the early stages of a rebuild. It would be tough for Boston to give up on two lottery wings before their rookie deals are over and Richardson has emerged as a crucial player in Ime Udoka's rotation, but if Brad Stevens wants a shooter, that's the price.
The Grizzlies are this year's extremely fun upstart team that has no right to be as good as they are. Teams in that position usually recognize they've struck gold for a year and try to capitalize. Memphis is in a good position to do so. They've turned into a very good defensive team with an offense conducted by the ever-electric Ja Morant. One of the few major flaws in the team, however, is their three-point shooting. The Grizz rank 26th in the NBA in three-point makes per game and 23rd in shooting percentage from deep. That won't cut it if Memphis has dreams of making a deep run this year.
The Grizzlies have some cap room, so a deal involving Kyle Anderson and De'Anthony Melton makes sense financially. Melton is a classic buy-low candidate, a feisty defender who broke out last year but hasn't found the same success this year. Anderson is a fine player whose mostly involved for salary purposes but could be used for other transactions in Indianapolis. Ultimately, a potential deal here comes down to what the Grizzlies are willing to give up in terms of draft picks and what their competition will be for Hield. Melton, Anderson, and a first-round pick isn't the most attractive offer, but the Pacers got who they wanted out of the Kings trade and are in asset-gathering mode. Memphis can't offer up the strongest package but has the motivation and enough pieces to make a competitive offer.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers nearly acquired Hield over the offseason but opted for Russell Westbrook instead. That hasn't worked out as planned and now Hield is available again from a different front office. Anyone with eyes can tell you the Lakers need more shooting than what they're putting out on the court right now. Hield's presence would open up the floor for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to operate. It'll help Westbrook the most.
The issue is whether the Lakers can offer enough to be in the running for Hield's services, a problem that has popped up again and again as the Lakers attempt to improve a roster that hasn't lived up to expectations thus far. The best Los Angeles can do is Talen Horton-Tucker, a 2027 first-round pick, and whatever they can clump together to match Hield's salary. Unless the Pacers absolutely love THT, that isn't moving the needle. A third team would probably have to get involved, both for asset and salary purposes.