One of the most popular mocked trade partners for the Los Angeles Lakers this NBA offseason has been the Indiana Pacers. There aren’t many teams that can afford to take on Russell Westbrook’s contract, but they are one of the few teams remaining with significant cap space.
Indiana made a run at restricted free agent Deandre Ayton, agreeing to a four-year, $133 million offer sheet. But, hours after it was reported, the Phoenix Suns matched the deal to keep Ayton in the desert. As a result, the Pacers now have a ton of cap space to put to use.
Taking on Westbrook, along with draft compensation, would be a good use of that space. In the early stages of a rebuild, Indiana is looking for as much draft capital as possible; they would have no interest in keeping Westbrook as a player.
Two players that have been discussed as possible targets for the Lakers are Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. Both are solid rotation players that would be excellent fits alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis based on their skill sets.
However, there are some people who don’t believe they are worth the price tag that Indiana has placed on them. One executive discounted the idea of Los Angeles acquiring Turner and Hield and believes they should go even bigger, such as including the Brooklyn Nets in a three-team deal.
“What do Buddy and Turner do for the Lakers? Add a 5 percent chance the team wins a title?” an NBA executive said. “That’s probably worth one protected first, but certainly not two.” “Maybe if they could combine the Nets and Pacers into one trade, bring back Kyrie, Turner and Buddy, that’d be worth giving up a couple of firsts,” the executive continued. “Even if that saved the Nets a ton of money and Indiana got two firsts out of it, do they agree to work together to help LeBron and the Lakers contend?”
That last part is ultimately what it comes down to. Are the Nets and Pacers willing to help facilitate a deal that would transform the Lakers into contenders again? If they are both getting everything they want, then that is all that should matter.
If Indiana is seeking two first-round picks and they get them, they will be happy. If the Nets are looking to clear money before executing a massive Kevin Durant deal and they achieve that, then they will sign off on it as well.
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