Since the days of franchise legend Reggie Miller, the Pacers have not made an NBA Finals. Despite having a good collection of talent this year, they were swept by the Heat. Granted, Oladipo wasn’t fully healthy, and Sabonis was injured. It is clear that T.J Warren has a lot of potential as a scorer, and Sabonis is an All-Star. Let’s not forget about Malcolm Brogdon either, who has shown great shooting and playmaking ability.
Despite the rumors of Oladipo leaving either via trade or free agency, the Pacers are moving towards the right direction. Nate McMillan’s been fired, and they have a base team that always makes the playoffs, which is what it takes to be in a small market. However, all they need is that last piece to push them over the top. Here are 5 stars that can make it happen: they could most likely be acquired via a trade package featuring Victor Oladipo. Here are 5 trades that can tip the scale for the Pacers.
New York Knicks
Trade Package: Victor Oladipo for Kevin Knox, Taj Gibson, Frank Ntilikina, 2021 Knicks first-round pick
The Pacers could be looking to get pure value for the last year of Victor Oladipo’s contract. In that case, the Knicks could come up with a package featuring players who have potential but haven’t reached it. The Pacers would take this deal as it offers value, as well as a future first-rounder. With a combination of Pacers draft history being fairly good, and the Knicks record being pretty bad, that future pick could hold good value for a former All-Star.
Kevin Knox was drafted with the intention of growing into his frame and becoming a shot-creating wing, and Frank Ntilikina is a good defensive point guard. Taj Gibson is a solid vet, and this combination of players alongside the valuable pick should entice the Pacers to make a deal before Oladipo hits free agency. They would be getting rid of a player with an expiring contract for a treasure trove of players and probably a good pick. This is a clear cut deal that would benefit both sides.
Trade Package: Victor Oladipo, T. J. McConnell, 2020 Pacers second-round pick, 2021 Utah second-round pick for Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert
In case anybody forgot, Spencer Dinwiddie is a 20 PPG scorer. While Caris LeVert has been the star of the Nets bubble run, the Nets also have a capable guard in Dinwiddie. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant on the team, the Nets would surely want to build a big 3, and Victor Oladipo could be a target. At his peak, Oladipo is an amazing two-way guard who can guard the best player on the opposing team. Notably, he was the steals leader during his first All-Star season. He can take the harder assignment off Kyrie Irving, and since he would be the third option, he would have no pressure to recover extremely fast and carry a franchise.
Dinwiddie to the Pacers would probably be motivated by the return mentioned above, as well as trading away a scorer who would eat at Durant and Irving’s touches. If Dinwiddie were to come to the Pacers, he could start at PG and let Brogdon play the 2 while sharing playmaking responsibility. He would be a good fit in terms of replacing Oladipo’s offensive production. Dinwiddie’s defensive deficiencies could be rectified under a new team culture, and his teammates giving him an easier assignment on the defensive end.
LeVert, like Dinwiddie, is a player who is going to demand touches. Trading him away for the Nets seems like a move designed to get a 3rd co-star for Irving and Durant that isn’t going to demand as many touches. Oladipo seems perfect in that role as he seemed to take a step back to T.J Warren in the bubble, and can play off the ball due to his experience in Oklahoma with Russell Westbrook in a less ball-dominant role.
Trade Package: Victor Oladipo for Gary Harris, 2020 Nuggets first-round pick
Gary Harris could be an afterthought on the Nuggets next year. Players like Bol Bol and Michael Porter Jr. showed some promise in the bubble, and both are intriguing prospects in their own right. Regardless, more playing time is going to be needed all around the Nuggets’ roster. Gary Harris could be traded for a player that could push them over the top, as a casualty of having a lot of younger players needing time. The Nuggets won’t need their 22nd pick either, so that would go to entice the Pacers to trade their former All-Star. This deal is amazing for the Pacers since they get a young shooting guard and a pick to build their future.
Gary Harris would be a solid pick up for the Pacers. They would get a shooting guard with amazing perimeter defense, and leave the playmaking to Sabonis and Brogdon. The game would be simplified for Harris who would most likely be a 3rd or 4th option on the team: he would be asked to play hard defensively, create less for himself and shoot 3s. Those are all things that he can do, as he isn’t a primary ball-handler for the Nuggets. On the Pacers, he would be able to get his shots while not having to dominate the ball.
New Orleans Pelicans
Trade Package: Victor Oladipo for Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, 2020 Milwaukee second-round pick
As a team, the Pacers have a clear defensive identity. Lonzo Ball is a great defender and facilitator and has improved his jumper dramatically this year. Lonzo Ball is an essential complementary player and helps everyone on the roster improve with his playmaking. That could be a good add for a team like the Pacers: they could move Brogdon back to shooting guard while adding a player who fits their identity and could develop alongside their core. Josh Hart is another player who can be tasked with defending anyone on the court, as well as spacing the floor. This seems like a win for the Pacers.
While the Pelicans might loathe to give up Ball, they might not want to pay him in free agency. Rather than give him up for nothing, they could get an All-Star to add to their core along with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. Oladipo can be a secondary ball-handler behind Brandon Ingram. He also brings a higher ceiling to the team as compared to Lonzo Ball. If Oladipo regains All-Star form, then the Pelicans have a big three that contend even in the Western Conference.
Trade Package: Victor Oladipo, 2021 Pacers first-round pick, 2022 Miami second-round pick for Buddy Hield
Buddy Hield is perhaps the most realistic target on this trade list. There were previously rumors that he wanted out, and a man of his contract size should not be sitting on the bench. Buddy is averaging 39.4% from 3 this season, as well as winning the 3PT contest. Luke Walton demoted Hield to the bench due to his defense, leading to Hield being at odds with the franchise.
Unless the Kings fix things internally, then there is a high chance that Hield gets traded due to him being a 24 million dollar scorer coming off the bench due to his porous defense. Kings get to clear their cap and start anew after Oladipo leaves in free agency while having a solid pick or two from the Pacers to help their rebuild.
If he were to get traded to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo, he would be an instant plug into the Pacers offense providing valuable scoring and spacing around Domantas Sabonis. The Pacers can have 4 good shooters who can shoot off the catch in the starting lineup: Sabonis is an underrated playmaking big, who averaged 5.0 assists on the season. The upside is clear. Hield is comfortable playing off-ball while also having shot creation ability. He would be a nice fit with Sabonis and the other Pacers could perhaps mask his deficiencies on the defensive upside. His scoring (19.4 PPG) is the main asset that the Pacers would want.