What happens if the Indiana Pacers miss out on Deandre Ayton?

Deandre Ayton, Myles Turner - Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Deandre Ayton, Myles Turner - Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

With the 2022 NBA Free Agency winding down to its final stages, the Indiana Pacers still have unfinished business. Armed with a near-max cap space, many are expecting them to be in the hot pursuit for restricted free agent Deandre Ayton, who remains unsigned with the market currently in an impasse.

The big commotion around Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has shellshocked front offices, but the Pacers remain in full control of their destiny. Indiana could either sign Ayton to an offer sheet  outright after offloading some of their newly acquired players (like Daniel Theis) or conjecture a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns that will land them the prized big man for someone like Myles Turner.

However, what happens if the Pacers miss out on Ayton?

What are the Indiana Pacers’ options if they miss out on Deandre Ayton?

Failing to acquire Deandre Ayton will not in any form mean the end of the world for the Indiana Pacers, as they are far from being a one-piece-away club. Their rebuild may not accelerate the way it is expected with the former No. 1 pick in the fold, but the team will retain a lot of flexibility and wiggle room for the future.

Indiana could easily opt to just test the waters with Myles Turner returning to the Circle City for at least another year. The longtime Pacer has become a legitimate flight risk for the team in the next offseason, but there has been no clear indications of him inclining on skipping town either. After missing a huge chunk of the season in the previous campaign, the Pacers will be able to see how the rangy shot blocker fits with Tyrese Haliburton and the other young players.

If so, the Pacers will still have a lot of cap space to spare. Bad news for the big-name chasers, but the notable free agents remaining don’t make sense at all for the Blue and Gold due to reasons of fit (Collin Sexton), or reasons bigger than basketball (Miles Bridges).

Thus, Indiana’s front office could zoom in on under-the-radar contributors who can fill their obvious roster holes, primarily in the forward positions. They do not have an ample deck to choose from, but some reclamation projects could be worth the small investment.

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Another route that the Pacers can take on is absorbing expiring contracts in exchange for future-directed assets, such as draft capital. Playoff contenders looking to make a big splash in the trade market could try to offset their hard-capped portfolios by offloading bad contracts.

As long as the money and duration are tolerable, and the incoming pieces are not beyond poison pills, then Indiana should not be turned off by being a salary dumpster as long as they extract assets in return.

Overall, while the most desired outcome for the Indiana Pacers is to acquire Deandre Ayton in any way, missing out on him shouldn’t be a major cause for concern. The franchise has already shown a rare willingness to be patient for once, and the club will continue to rebuild nonetheless.

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