Three moves that the Indiana Pacers should be smart enough to make

The Pacers are close to winning the East, but they need a little more to do so. These three moves would help.
Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game Two
Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game Two / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

With the sweep of the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference, Rick Carlisle and his team will be watching the 2024 NBA Finals just like the majority of us: from home. The sixth-seeded hopefuls fell a round short of earning their first Finals Appearance since 2000.

On the bright side, the Pacers do not look like they will be waiting another 24 years to make it there. The core pieces of Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, and Myles Turner are still under control by the team.

Yet, these next three moves could not only keep the Pacers in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, but in the top tier across the league, as well.

3. Re-sign Pascal Siakam and/or Obi Toppin.

The mid-season acquisition, Siakam, averaged 21.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a game. Both marks were in the NBA's top 35 spots. The 30-year-old further showed his offensive prowess by averaging 4.3 assists a game and still shot above 53% from the field.

Siakam brings both playoff and championship experience to the Pacers. His numbers were similar in the 17 playoff games he appeared in for Indiana.

His teammate, Toppin, also had a stellar year as well. In his first year with the Pacers, the four-year forward averaged career highs in points per game (10.3) and rebounds (3.9). The 2023-24 season was the first for Toppin where he shot over 40% from behind the arc, too. Siakam also shot a career-best this year with 38.6%

At the end of the regular season and going into the playoffs, Siakam would start at the power forward position and Toppin would come off the bench. The Pacers can not afford to lose both perennial big men if they look to prove doubters that this season was not a fluke.

Getting both players under contract again should be a priority for the Pacers' front office. That would be two large holes on the roster for Indiana if neither one can be retained.

2. Let Doug McDermott and James Johnson both walk in free agency.

A major component of Indiana having the best offense in the league is because the Pacers' bench was the most effective in the NBA. Indiana's second unit averaged 46.8 points per game and shot the best from the field (51.3%). They also were third in the league with 11.2 assist per game, too.

The two veteran players, McDermott and Johnson, are on the wrong side of 30. McDermott, like Siakam, came to the Pacers just a few months ago. He played in just 18 games for Indiana.

In that sample size, the small forward averaged the lowest points per game average since his rookie year. Across the ten playoff games McDermott played in this season, he only recorded 64 total minutes and just 13 points.

While his career average of 8.9 points a game would serve as a great compliment to another team's second unit, the Pacers can let him leave in free agency. The same should happen with Johnson.

The journeyman has played for ten different teams in his eighteen years of service in the NBA. He was a Toronto Raptor for two separate stints, too.

The roster already has plenty of stars under 30 in Haliburton, Myles Turner and Mathurin. Another veteran will surely help this roster.

1. Bring Gordon Hayward home already.

The 14-year veteran is now a free agent. He played his college ball at Butler. Thus, a return to Indiana and a spot on one of the best lineups and benches would mutually benefit the Pacers and Hayward.

Indiana is without a first-round pick this June. Therefore, free agency is going to be the best resource for the Pacers to obtain a player with a skill set and the experience to complement what Rick Carlisle already has on the floor.

At the age of 34, his best days are behind him. However, this past season was just the third time where Hayward shot above 40% from three-point land. Since 2016, his last year in Utah, the small forward has shot above 45% from the field as well.

His career-low in free-throw percentage (74.2) may be a concern for the Pacers. Not counting the first season with Boston where Hayward suffered a season-ending injury on opening night, last year was the first one where he did not average more than 10 points a game.

Coming off the bench is not uncharted territory for Hayward, either. For the first two years of his career, he was a part of the second unit for the Jazz.


The crafty scorer would be a wonderful addition to the Pacers with T.J. McConnell, Toppin, and company. It would also keep their title aspirations in the forefront for Indiana.