Matthes’ Manifesto: Which forwards should the Pacers target in trades?

As part of Jonathan Matthes’ offseason manifesto, we look at which forwards the Pacers can realistically — and unrealistically — trade for this offseason.

If the Pacers are going to replace Thaddeus Young, or at least find someone as the reliable backup forward, then they are going to have to explre the trade market.

Once again, the good news is, the Pacers have more than their fair share of assets.

Not only does Indiana posses all of their picks for the foreseeable future, including both this year. Furthermore, Indiana has eight players that are either on the last year of their current contract or currently on unguaranteed deals (Bogdanovic, Collison, Jefferson, Joseph, Poythress, Stephenson, Joe and Thad Young). Indy also has cap space to absorb other player’s contracts.

Otto Porter Jr. SF Wizards: 25yrs, 14.7, 50/44/83, 6.4 Rebs, $81.8M/ 3 yrs

Our Tony East broke down this scenario. In short, Porter has blossomed into an impressive talent. After looking like a potential bust during his first two seasons (4.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg), he’s looked like a building block the last two (14.1ppg, 6.4 rpg). He and Bogdanovic post comparable shooting numbers, with Porter’s being a smidge better.

Porter, however, is a much more well-rounded player. He’s like Thad Young in that way, Porter’s value extends far beyond the amount of threes he makes (which was 138 last year to Bogdanovic’s 155). His versatility is the key to his game.

No one would be more aware of his contributions than the Wizards. Not only has he spent his entire career in Washington but he also spent this entire college career in D.C. as well (at Georgetown). He’s played on the same homecourt since he was 18. So why would they move him?

If they move him the primary motivation -like most things- will be economics. Unless things drastically change the Wizards will be tax payers next year, a steep price for a team that reeked dysfunction and regressed from the previous season (’16-’17: 49-33, lost in 7 to the Celtics in the East Semis; ’17-’18: 43-39, lost in 6 to the Raptors in the first round).

John Wall might be impossible to move (he’s virtually guaranteed $188.5M over the next 5 seasons). Washington already has $107.7M tied up for the 2019-20 season which doesn’t including their valuable free agents: Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre Jr., Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris.

The Wizards are already one of the more shallow teams in the NBA, moving one of their top three players (Wall, Bradley Beal, or Porter) might be their best option for improving their current depth, financial outlook and increase their ability to retain key players in the future. Wall’s not likely going anywhere, Beal shouldn’t be considered a real option for the Pacers, but Porter? Maybe.

Kevin Love PF Cavaliers: 30 yrs, 17.6, 46/42/88, 9.3 Rebs, $49.7M / 2 yrs

I’m well aware that many Pacers fans’ lasting image of Love is either him laying flat on his back in the paint or befuddledly glaring at a referee with mouth agape and arms extended, palms up.


Love’s stock is not up, and when if LeBron James departs Cleveland Love will quickly become available. Even if James leaves, the Cavaliers will be over the projected salary cap ($101M) and would be threatening the tax by the time they complete their roster.

Love shouldn’t be to discredited though, the Cavaliers routinely played Love (a natural power forward) out of position (at center), which worked for Cleveland. At times their offense, with Love at the five, was unstoppable and they won a championship. But the beating noticeably took a toll on Love whose Cleveland numbers never approached his heights in Minnesota. Maybe they can again. If a team was able to pair Love at the four next to a rim-protecting center and/or a low post threat, that might unleash Love’s offensive versatility. Love’s game could morph to fit with either Sabonis or Turner. It’s worth exploring, there may be no more dangerous stretch four than Love.

Harrison Barnes F Mavs: 26 yrs, 18.9, 45/36/83, 6.1 Rebs, $49.2M / 2 yrs.

Barnes has slipped into the ether since he relocated from Golden State to Dallas, which is a shame because his all-around game has blossomed. He can confidently pull up from three in transition, create space with a fade, and cut through defenses on drives. He’s unafraid to enter the paint for rebounds and has always been an adequate defender. If a versatile stretch four is greatly desired, Barnes shouldn’t be ignored. He’s similarly sized to Boston’s Jayson Tatum (Barnes: 6-8, 210 lbs; Tatum: 6-8, 205 lbs) and Dallas played him at the four a majority of the time (57% in ’16-17 and 61% in ’17-18).

The Mavericks have every avenue open this off-season. They have copious cap space, plus three draft picks. They could elect to build around a core of Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr. and Dwight Powell and try to attract some bigger-named free agents. Or they could open up maximum cap space by moving Barnes (Dallas could have $56M in space, that’s not a perfect number in that it doesn’t include incoming salaries, but even then they’re going to have a lot to play with). Or they could keep committing to a development program at which point moving Barnes and Wesley Matthews would become very likely. Dallas could be a big player this offseason, and they might be worth a phone call.

Pacers pipedreams at forward

SAN ANTONIO,TX – JANUARY 13 : Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard (SF Spurs: 27 yrs, 25.5, 49/38/88, 5.8 Rebs, 2016-17 stats, $41.4M for 2 yrs.) is not going to happen. The situation in San Antonio must be deliriously bad if they actually look to trade Leonard. And if the situation is that bad, many more teams will have a more compelling offer for the disgruntled Spur. It would be fun though.

Tobias Harris (F Clippers: 26 yrs, 18.6, 46/41/83, 5.5 Rebs, $14.8M for 1 year) is probably not going to be available. Harris has all-star potential and must be someone that Jerry West sees as a building block in Los Angeles. What are you going to offer a team who has a 26 year, on a reasonable and expiring contract? If he was available Indiana would be foolish not to ask.

  • If you want to go navigate back to the beginning of Matthes’ Manifesto, click here.
  • To check out how the rest of the NBA affects the Pacers, click here.
  • To look at Indiana’s realistic targets in the draft, click here.
  • To see which guards they should target in trades, click here.
  • To see which forwards they should target in trades, click here.
  • To see which free agents they should target, click here.
  • For a modest proposal, click here.