The Pacers should have complete leverage in all Lakers trade talks

Myles Turner, Russell Westbrook - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Myles Turner, Russell Westbrook - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite some intermittent pauses, the Indiana Pacers are once again on the center of the rumor mill recently, with the team reported to be gaining traction with the Los Angeles Lakers on a possible trade.

The Pacers jettisoned the Lakers on a multi-player trade not too long ago, but with LA losing steam on trying to acquire their biggest targets like Kyrie Irving, it seems that the franchise is zeroing in on Indiana to possibly help their comeback bid next season following a dispiriting and embarrassing 2021-22 campaign where they missed the playoffs.

The Indiana Pacers have no reason to yield to the Los Angeles Lakers

Talks have revolved around Russell Westbrook and a 2027 first-round pick going to the Circle City for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, but Indiana has not shown any inclination on caving to their offer just yet. Still, this is the way to go for the Pacers, as they have complete leverage in all engagements with the Lakers.

To put it simply, Indiana has no urgent reason to deal both players specifically to Los Angeles. Turner’s value as a walking flight risk shaves his value a tad, but Hield is a positive commodity projected to have a bevy of bidders.

As long as the Lakers are not grounded to the reality of Westbrook being a giant minus on the asset department, the Pacers should never yield to them. Indy could reportedly bite if the LA’s 2029 first-rounder is included, but that hasn’t been a price the latter is willing to pay for.

Even more comically, Lakers fans have pointed to the Pacers’ apparent underselling of Malcolm Brogdon to shelve their obvious leverage when in fact, the Brogdon trade was an obvious salary dump move to un-shackle their rebuild. With the free agency market now depleted, Indiana has no reason at all to move those players just to shed some salary. They will and should hunt for assets in return, not cap space.

Alas, convincing Pacers owner Herb Simon to take on Westbrook’s albatross contract just for him to not log a single minute donning the blue and gold, which is the likeliest outcome, is a Hail Mary. The Lakers will have to do some strong convincing on the assets department to incentivize the team.

Obviously, the Indiana Pacers have complete leverage in all engagements with the Los Angeles Lakers, showing everyone that small markets are not just there to be subservient to their big-market counterparts’ massive headaches.

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