The Indiana Pacers have been one of the more surprising teams in the league this year, as they have a serious shot at surpassing the Play-In Tournament and earning a top-six playoff spot.
Everything has been led by Tyrese Haliburton, who’s proven to be closer to an MVP-caliber point guard than merely an All-Star, which bodes well for the entire organization moving forward.
However, it still feels as though they are a piece or two away from being a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference, which is full of powerhouse squads like the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers.
Here’s the full outline of Buckley’s proposed trade:
Pacers receive: Kyle Kuzma
Wizards receive: Buddy Hield, Jarace Walker, 2025 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
Buckley believes Kuzma could give the Pacers another offensive boost while also getting back to the defensive level he was at with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won a championship in 2020.
“The Pacers are hanging tough in the fight for a top-six seed, but they still seem a tier or two behind the top contenders,” Buckley wrote. “Closing that gap requires strengthening their 28th-ranked defense and upgrading at power forward, and acquiring Kuzma should accomplish both. He could settle in as the Circle City's second scoring option and get back some of the defensive strides he'd made before reverting to some bad habits during this disaster season in the District.”
Let’s break down the deal and grade it for both sides.