Will the Indiana Pacers regret not going full throttle on a Ben Simmons trade?

Indiana Pacers, Ben Simmons, Malcolm Brogdon - Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers, Ben Simmons, Malcolm Brogdon - Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers are, well, currently grasping at straws. With a measly 7-11 record through the first 18 games, nobody is penciling in the Blue and Gold as a noteworthy team come postseason. The worst part? The playoffs are far from a guarantee with this squad, as they are sitting at 13th in the East as of the moment.

In hindsight, however, the Pacers could have been something entirely different at this juncture, as they had their chances to make some big changes to the roster before the season started, at least as rumored.

One of the biggest storylines in the NBA this season has been the situation of Ben Simmons, whose debacle with the 76ers brass has garnered much traction around the league. The Pacers, in the lead-up to the season, were one of the teams reported to have engaged with Philly to strike a deal. Whoever turned down calls remain to be seen, but given how Indiana has performed so far, will they ultimately regret not going full throttle on a trade to land the three-time All-Star?

The Indiana Pacers’ mediocre start could ultimately make them nitpick on the what-ifs of a Ben Simmons trade

Instead of angling to make an enticing offer for Ben Simmons, the Indiana Pacers doubled down on their current core, striking a two-year extension with Malcolm Brogdon, Philly’s most probable and primary target on an exchange between both teams, for the sake of fit, and bannering continuity yet again, but this time, under the backing of a need for stability with their early injuries and to give new coach Rick Carlisle a look at the team’s potential.

At this point, however, the Pacers have nothing to cajole the 76ers into re-engaging with them for a Simmons swap. Brogdon can’t be traded until the following year, Caris LeVert has underperformed so far, TJ Warren’s trade value has dissipated due to injury, and Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner are nightmarish fits next to Joel Embiid—a three-team trade will be more difficult to actually materialize.

Could Ben Simmons have led the Pacers to a better record? Maybe not, but a young player of his caliber, even if struggles are left and right to kick things off, should and will still give the team a lot to look forward to under the gauntlet of actual change and eventual development (he’s 25!). Instead, Indiana is stuck with its personnel, their ceiling predictably unlofty, and the floor painfully high.

Now, I wouldn’t exactly brush this team off as surefire stagnancy, but it’s difficult to expect a gargantuan in-season improvement that would be enough to justify sticking to their guns given how they have performed so far. The offense, despite retrofitting in principle to vault them to modernity, has been stale and confusing. The defense, while better than last season’s, is still prone to long stretches of susceptibility, with only Turner as the ultimate pendulum swinger on that end.

I have been consistent before in saying that the Indiana Pacers would be better off prolonging the lifespan of their core, but this time, given how the team has fared so far, the window of me (and the team) making a mistake is bigger than ever before.

dark. Next. Player grades for the Pacers from bounce back win over the Pelicans