Trade rumors are once again beginning to swirl with the NBA’s trade deadline just over two weeks away.
One team involved in many of those rumors: the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana has been one of the most consistent teams since 2000.
They have 15 playoff appearances in 21 seasons.
The only problem is, they have been consistently good, not great.
Those 15 trips to the playoffs yielded 10 first-round exits, two trips to the Conference Semifinals, and three losses in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Indiana’s last trip to the ECF came back in 2013-14 when Paul George was still on the team.
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) July 1, 2017
Since that season, the Pacers have gone a combined 317-286 (including this year) and have been bounced from the playoffs in the first round five times.
It seems like it may finally be time for the Pacers to shake things up.
That is more than enough time in the NBA to determine whether two players can win together.
Indiana owner Herb Simon has publicly stated via Bob Kravitz of The Athletic they do not want to dive into a full-scale rebuild.
Instead, he would prefer to be “[build] without tearing down. [Build] on the go…”.
While the Pacers may not ship out all their good players, they should look to be sellers at the deadline.
Something clearly needs to change.
Pacers Always Try to Win
The biggest obstacle in the way of Indiana becoming a fire sale at the deadline is Simon.
They are a proud franchise and have consistently been relevant since joining the NBA in 1976.
In 45 years in the NBA, Indiana has only not made the playoffs 18 times.
They have finished with fewer than 30 wins only five times, all coming in a seven-year stretch in the 1980s.
The Pacers have not won fewer than 30 games since 1990. There’s a lot to say about the franchise and the current state, but I am always impressed and admire how Herb Simon is just like “nope, we’re not gonna suck” even if finances impact that.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 17, 2022
However, they have cracked the 50-win mark only six times, with five of them coming while Reggie Miller was on the team.
And out of their 27 playoff appearances, 17 resulted in a first-round elimination.
Essentially, Indiana has always been good, just not good enough.
And for a small-market team that is pretty good!
Fans are practically guaranteed playoff basketball and a team that will always fight.
But when does that become not enough?
From 2015-16 to 2019-20, Indiana won between 42 and 48 games.
Five straight years of winning basketball earned them three first-round sweeps and two seven-game series.
The Pacers have almost become synonymous with losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Winning should always be the goal in the NBA.
But winning in the postseason matters more than winning in the regular season.
Indiana Has Solid Trade Pieces
Another reason for Indiana becoming sellers at the deadline is they have good players to trade.
Nobody is a bonafide superstar in the making, but many players could be valuable players on a title team.
But Indiana’s “Big Three” will fetch the biggest return.
Sabonis is the grand prize – a 25-year-old power forward currently averaging 19 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game.
He’s shooting 57.7 percent from the field and knocking down 33 percent of his 2.4 triples per game.
Sabonis has developed into an excellent offensive player and the Pacers see him as such, reportedly only willing to part with him for a package like what the Magic got for Nikola Vucevic.
Turner is probably the most likely to get moved.
With Myles Turner on the block for a trade and an injury to complicate matters, Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner talks to @ClutchPointsApp about his situation:
"At any time, I can be up and moving."https://t.co/iabLLkldgb
— Mark Haynes (@markhaynesnba) January 22, 2022
He has been involved in trade rumors for years now and has publicly stated he wants a bigger role.
Turner is a 6-foot-11 center, also just 25 years of age, who provides excellent rim protection and can stretch the floor.
He is averaging 2.8 blocks per game on the year (2.3 for his career) while canning 1.5 threes per game on a 33 percent clip.
Myles will not come cheap – the Pacers want two first-round picks or a promising young player and a first-round pick in return.
The 27-year-old wing was involved in the James Harden trade last season and has plenty of potential.
The Pacers reportedly want a first-round pick and a good young player in return.
LeVert is averaging 18.5 points per game to go along with 4.2 assists.
He could provide secondary ball-handling and bench scoring for a contending team.