With the 2022 NBA free agency almost dead by now, the Indiana Pacers remain in possession of an excessive cap space available for spending on their account. However, with an utter dearth of available players that make sense for the team at this point, throwing away money at the remaining free agents is not a smart maneuver.
As things currently stand, the Pacers have the second-most practical cap space in the league at around $29.6 million, just behind the San Antonio Spurs. Having lost the Deandre Ayton sweepstakes by a hair, which entailed a series of player waivers, Indiana has a ton of financial flexibility entering the campaign.
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One way the Indiana Pacers can use their excessive cap space
As customary for rebuilding teams with extensive cap space, the best way for the Indiana Pacers to make the most out of their financial malleability is to try and take on bad contracts to exact future assets in return, a la Oklahoma City.
Of course, taking on bad money, particularly those that last more than a year, shaves some flexibility in the short-term, but with the Pacers more focused on developing its young players, spending big on free agency is counterintuitive anyway, especially with the team far from being a one-star-away operation. Aside from Tyrese Haliburton’s looming extension, Indiana does not have much to shelve money for.
Taking on, say, Duncan Robinson’s contract, which is substantially hampering the Miami Heat right now, would normally be a no-no for the Pacers, but if the latter is willing to attach picks in return, then engaging them in a possible trade will be beneficial for the long-term. Miami owns all of their first-round picks except in 2024.
Another player of the same vein is Davis Bertans. Currently not projected to be a key player for the Dallas Mavericks, the Latvian sharpshooter is widely pictured as a negative value in the league. Still, if Dallas is amenable to incentivizing the Pacers with picks (rather handsomely), moving the needle for him should be worth it. Like the Heat, the Mavs have almost perfect control over their draft capital, owning all their of their first-rounders from 2024 onwards.
Coincidentally, both players are long-range specialists, providing a skillset that would be very conducive to the development of the team’s young players. With the team’s best three-point threat in Buddy Hield available for plucking, their presence could very well be far from just idle money.
The Indiana Pacers are ironically abundant at a time where it is not the most warranted thing, but with some smart choices—and short-term concessions—the front office should be able to turn their static money into gold.