The Indiana Pacers have been a surprising team this year. Highlighted by an impressive run in the In-Season Tournament, Tyrese Haliburton has helped put the Pacers on the map.
Unfortunately, Haliburton’s wild success has primarily been on the offensive end, as the Pacers have been one of the worst defensive teams in basketball for the entirety of the season.
They have some decent defensive pieces with guys like Aaron Nesmith and Bruce Brown on board, but as a team, they’ve been wholly subpar on that side of the ball.
And while they may not have any open roster spots at the moment, waiving a player (or a two-way guy) to bring on a guy who could help them on that end would be worth it.
Well, luckily for the Pacers, the Philadelphia 76ers may have just waived someone who could provide some aid. Philadelphia waived two-way player Javonte Smart to make room for Kenneth Lofton Jr., who was previously let go by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Smart is a 6-foot-4 guard who has spent time with the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and 76ers in his short NBA career. He went undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft.
In 16 G League games this season with the Delaware Blue Coats, the 24-year-old has averaged 20.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 5.4 assists while shooting 46.8% from the field and 42.4% from behind the three-point line.
Since entering the league, through his performances in Summer League, in the G League, and in the NBA, Smart has become known for his intensity and tenacious defensive play. He was never a great three-point shooter, but he’s improved greatly from that range.
Adding someone like Smart, who will constantly bring it on the defensive end, could help give the Pacers a spark on that side of the ball - something they desperately need.
Smart is still signed on with the Blue Coats, but since he is no longer on a two-way contract with the 76ers, he is eligible to be picked up by any other team in the league.
If the Pacers are dedicated to improving on defense, they should seriously consider making room on the roster to bring in Smart.