In the wake of the 2020 Championship and the stifling reality of a pandemic afflicted 2021 season, the pieces are there for a potential blockbuster trade just waiting to be made between the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers need a stud guard to be their third superstar to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis in their quest for more championships and then to take the baton from LeBron when he retires as Davis’ co-superstar. They also need a true modern center whose 3-point shooting can stretch defenses and create spacing to free up James and Davis while protecting the rim and defending the perimeter to allow Anthony Davis to play the four.
The Pacers need to move on from both Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner this offseason as neither play key roles in their future plans. Oladipo wants a max contract he’s not going to get and Turner’s been supplanted by Sabonis. Waiting to move Oladipo will only further diminish what they could get in return as trading for him at the deadline will only yield rental value while keeping Turner will only stifle Sabonis’ emergence as the team’s future.
The Lakers are willing to risk swinging to hit a home run while the Pacers would prefer to patiently wait out the pandemic so there’s a middle ground where both teams can get want they want in a blockbuster trade.
WHAT ARE THE TERMS OF THE PROPOSED TRADE?
Ironically, the more coveted player in the trade is the Pacer’s undervalued center Myles Turner and not guard Victor Oladipo, whose lingering injury and looming free agent status have dramatically lowered his trade value. Considering there’s more interest in Turner rather than Oladipo, it makes sense to break the mega trade down into two separate trades to better be able to judge the merits of the specific offers for each of the Pacers’ players.
Rumors have suggested a Myles Turner trade could even yield the Pacers a borderline star like Gordon Hayward from the Boston Celtics or Andrew Wiggins and the second pick in the draft from the Golden State Warriors. While Hayward’s dubious injury history and Wiggin’s specious resume raise major questions, there’s no doubt that there’s serious interest in trading for Myles Turner by several of the Lakers’ major competitors in the NBA.
That’s why the Lakers are going to have make an offer that includes players whom they would normally consider untouchable in trade discussions if they have any hope of interesting the Pacers in trading Turner and Oladipo.
Here’s the proposed trade for Pacers’ center Myles Turner:
Here’s the proposed trade for Pacers’ guard Victor Oladipo:
WHY WOULD THE LAKERS AGREE TO THE TRADE?
There will be a large number of Lakers’ fans who will understandably be dead set against trading Caldwell-Pope and Caruso, two of the team’s top contributors responsible for the team winning their 17th championship. Realistically, the Lakers cannot expect to trade for two impact players like Turner and Oladipo, who could transform the team into a juggernaut, without giving up serious talent in return. That’s what trades are all about.
The centerpiece in the trade is 24-year old Myles Turner, who would give the Lakers a true modern center to provide 3-point shooting and spacing on offense and rim protection and perimeter speed and quickness on defense. Turner’s a proven 3-point shooter and elite shot blocker, who would be the Lakers’ starting center, replacing traditional low post centers JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard and allowing Anthony Davis to play power forward.
Trading for Oladipo is a gamble that he’ll recover completely to return to be the player he was before the injury and will re-sign with the Lakers but the risk is worth the reward as he could be the superstar guard the Lakers need. Victor is only 28-years old and a former 3rd team All-NBA and 1st team All-Defensive player. That’s the the kind of storied resume that enticed the Lakers to sign Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, and Dwight Howard.
Imagine Turner and Oladipo replacing McGee and Green next season and the Lakers starting a lineup that would be taller, longer, faster, quicker, and more mobile and athletic at both ends of the court than last year’s squad. Turner and Oladipo would fill the Lakers’ needs for a third scorer, second playmaker, wing defender, and modern center and their version of ‘small ball’ that dominated the playoffs would become their ‘48-minutes’ lineup.
WHY WOULD THE PACERS AGREE TO THE TRADE?
The Pacers have a new coach in Nate Bjorkgren and are on a new course that does not include Myles Turner, who has unfortunately been supplanted by Domantas Sabonis, or Victor Oladipo, who looking to sign a max contract. While the Pacers should receive attractive offers for Turner, Oladipo’s trade value has cratered due to his lackluster play after returning from injury and his looming free agency and continued demand for a max contract.
While Myles Turner has been a mainstay of the Pacers defense, he’s struggled to be productive when paired on the court with Sabonis, who has become the star around whom Indiana is planning on building their team. That’s become common knowledge around the league resulting in Turner becoming a coveted trade target, which is why the Lakers are willing to offer two of their top role players in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso.
The Victor Oladipo side of the trade also gives the Pacers great young talent to help them compete for a playoff spot while rebuilding by adding talented Kyle Kuzma, veteran Danny Green, and the Lakers 2020 first round pick. That’s more than any of the trades being proposed in the media for Oladipo and guarantees the Pacers won’t end up losing him at the trade deadline as a short term rental or next offseason for nothing as a free agent.
Imagine a Pacers’ starting lineup with Brogdon, Caldwell-Pope, Warren, Kuzma, and Sabonis that is better offensively and defensively and a deeper and more diverse bench with Caruso, Green, Holiday, Leaf, and McGee. Pacers’ new head coach Bjorkgren will be able to focus on a set roster with elite young defenders like KCP, Kuzma, and Caruso and veteran leaders and mentors like Green and McGee to help build a strong culture and chemistry.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THE TRADE HAPPENS?
Mega trades are always difficult to predict, especially with coronavirus pandemic still raging and the coming offseason and next season slated to be shorter than normal with unprecedented conditions and expectations. Chances are likely small market teams like the Pacers will be seeking to slash expenses by trading Myle Turner to get out of the 3-years left on his contract and Victor Oladipo to avoid having to give him a new max contract.
So the question is not whether the Indiana Pacers are going to trade Turner and Oladipo but what they’re going to be able to get in return for them in a difficult market where there are likely to be a lot more sellers than buyers. The willingness of the Lakers to actually include two of their championship core in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso is also no sure thing. While neither is a legitimate star player, they are proven elite role players.
When you add Kuzma, Mcgee, Green, and a 2020 first round pick, the Lakers’ offer is a substantive offer and the trade machine projections predict the Pacers will end up with a net gain of 15 wins if they complete the trade. Alternatively, adding a modern center like Turner and healthy superstar like Oladipo could transform the Lakers into a championship dynasty. That raises the possibility this trade could be one of those rare win-win trades.