The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat could be trade partners this summer
The Indiana Pacers will enter this offseason in a more certain place than most NBA teams. That will be a luxury in one of the strangest offseasons in NBA history.
The offseason — barring any further schedule changes due to the ongoing global pandemic — will not officially start for all teams until mid-October, which is usually right around when the typical NBA season starts. That means less time for teams to make the right decisions on formulating their roster for the 2020-21 season.
The Pacers are in a good spot. Justin Holiday is a free agent this summer — a player they should aim to re-sign, as his defensive capabilities have been a bright spot this season — but otherwise, no notable players are coming off the books.
The Pacers could feasibly stand pat all summer long and enter next year in the playoff conversation in the Eastern Conference. That would be an understandable and logical path forward for a front office that typically doesn’t make splashy moves.
Situationally, the Pacers look like a team that should trade their superstar, Victor Oladipo. Recent trends in the NBA dictate that small market teams need to prepare for stars to disgrace them and leave once they enter free agency.
Getting something for those players via a trade while you still can is “trendy.”
The Miami Heat have been mentioned as a team that will have interest in Oladipo should he enter the trade market.
The Pacers shouldn’t trade Oladipo. His current recovery from injury leaves a lot of question marks surrounding the ceiling of his remaining career, which means the team won’t get a fair return for him in a trade.
That said, the Pacers shouldn’t close the door on Pat Riley and the Heat if they do come calling. Instead, they should try to guide the conversation to another top player and see if Miami has any interest.
Myles Turner could be a trade piece the Miami Heat are interested in
Though Victor Oladipo should be off the table, the Miami Heat could still have some interest in a more tradable piece — Myles Turner.
Whether or not the Pacers should trade Turner is up for debate more than Oladipo. I believe there’s reason to keep trying him and Domantas Sabonis in the starting frontcourt together. A partial season of Turner’s heavily altered shot profile is not enough to determine whether or not the fit is good or not.
That said, it’s undeniable that the fit with Sabonis and Turner is… awkward. Both players play their best position at the five, so when they play together at least one of them is out of their element.
Even those who don’t think a Turner trade should be pursued have to agree… For the right price, he shouldn’t be off the table. Everyone on the Pacers, aside from Oladipo and perhaps Sabonis, has a trade price.
The Pacers would be fine in the frontcourt should they move on from Turner. Sabonis has leapfrogged him as the team’s best center on the offensive end. They would surely miss Turner’s defense, but both Sabonis and Goga Bitadze can hold it down on that end and continue to grow into more apt rim protectors.
Miami risks losing Meyers Leonard this summer. Leonard is a free agent, coming off an $11.3 million deal.
While Leonard has had to take more of an ancillary role this year with the Heat, he’s done so admirably. His market is hard to define, but even if he is willing to take a deal slightly less than $10 million, the Heat might see more value in a rim-protecting center rather than one that stays away from the rim.
Heat breakout star Bam Adebayo, while a great defender over nearly all five positions, doesn’t have the size to anchor at the rim.
Opponents shoot 2.8 percent better within 6 feet of the hoop when Leonard is their primary defender (3.6 attempts per game). Adebayo forces opponents to shoot 5.5 percent worse (5.4 attempts per game).
Turner, like he does most frontcourt players, blows those defensive stats out of the water. He forces opponents to shoot 10.8 percent worse within 6 feet on 7.7 attempts per game.
Miami allows the fifth-worst opponent shooting percentage in the NBA within five feet of the rim. A presence like Turner would be welcome for their defensive makeup.
It’s easy to imagine a player like Turner in Heat culture, too. A hard worker and someone who has strived to get better, the Heat can launch his career into a new stratosphere in a way the Pacers can’t right now given the current structure of their frontcourt.
As far as what the Pacers get back in this deal, that’s where things do get tough. Miami has just 9 players under contract next season so far, only $82 million in payroll. Turner’s contract is $18 million.
Pat Riley makes it work if he’s interested, though. He always gets his guy.
A sign-and-trade might be in the cards. The logical thought is a sign-and-trade for Turner involving Leonard.
I don’t have the answer on what a trade would look like just yet, but my mind goes to Turner for Leonard and some draft capital. Or, Miami could sign a different free agent this summer that the Pacers are interested in to make a deal work.
For now, I’ll leave you with the thought of Turner going to Miami. It makes some sense for both sides, and is a much more logical conclusion than the Pacers sending off Oladipo, because that just isn’t happening.