Indiana Pacers: Trading Jeremy Lamb will be a lot trickier than expected

While the Indiana Pacers appeared to be headed to a defining offseason, what actually transpired was a summer of relative inactivity. Aside from the draft, the team largely stood pat, save for some under-the-radar moves that were far from groundbreaking.

One of the questions that was left without an answer was the future of wing Jeremy Lamb. Entering the final year of a three-year deal he signed with the Pacers in 2019, the 10-year veteran is projected to lag in the rotation with the team’s crowded backcourt.

Efforts by Indiana to trade him in the summer went fruitless. According to Indianapolis Star’s J. Michael (subscription required), he is most likely going to be on the roster to begin the year. I personally don’t see him ending the year with the team, but there are layers as to why trading him will be a lot trickier than expected.

Trading Jeremy Lamb will be a tricky proposition for the Indiana Pacers

Talent-wise, Jeremy Lamb should still fetch some suitors because of his skillset. He’s far from a piece who singlehandedly elevates a team’s ceiling, but his scoring prowess, including a much-improved three-point shot, packs enough juice to intrigue teams in need of scoring, especially on the second unit.

While his health remains a big question mark after an ACL injury in 2020 and an assortment of setbacks last season, in a limited 18-20 minute role off the bench, he should thrive. How many teams would be willing to take on that risk, however, remains to be seen. After all, while he’s on an expiring deal, they would still have to part with some assets for a trade—a price which, as connoted by the Pacers’ waiting game, may be higher than what the market for him actually is.

Competitive teams that have shown interest or make perfect sense for Lamb, like New York and the Los Angeles Lakers, have had their scoring holes already filled by more established and safer bets. Meanwhile, other teams in the playoff mix with similar needs have pivoted to free agency to get the job done.

Although the Indiana Pacers don’t have a lot of options with the veteran scorer at this juncture, there are still alternatives. Lamb could be an attractive salary dump when coupled with their trade exception or a viable sweetener if the front office makes a bigger package involving one of the team’s core players.

Whatever happens, the Blue and Gold must exhaust all of their options. Expediting a buyout where a return value is inexistent should be the worst-case scenario, especially with Lamb still possessing value on the court, as well as in salary maneuvering.

Jeremy Lamb has been a serviceable role player and good off-court presence for the Indiana Pacers, but given the team’s current roster and direction, a breakup should be beneficial for both parties, even though getting a deal done could be tougher than anticipated.