The Indiana Pacers have yet to be linked to Jimmy Butler, but if they did swoop in and acquire him they would shift the balance of the Eastern Conference.
The Indiana Pacers traded for a dynamic two-way wing player just over one year ago, and that deal ended up working out pretty well for them. Maybe Indiana should throw together a Jimmy Butler trade offer and add another one.
The Pacers seemed to be adrift after Paul George’s trade demand, but Victor Oladipo ended up energizing the fanbase and the team. Oladipo’s Pacers pushed LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to the edge and nearly came out victorious. Now imagine that team with a second star, and without a LeBron to deal with in the conference.
To be clear, the Pacers have yet to be linked to Butler by any reputable sources, so this is all just wishful thinking for Pacers fans at the moment. Still, it seems as though Indiana could put up an offer that’s at least in the ballpark of what other teams in the running might assemble.
According to Jon Krawczynski, the Wolves are seeking “a starting-caliber wing to take Butler’s place and another young player that could develop in addition to draft pick compensation.” The Pacers, it turns out, have all of those things.
Indiana obviously won’t be dealing Oladipo, and the Pacers probably aren’t going to want to move on from Myles Turner either. They could offer a quality wing in Bojan Bogdanovic, a young prospect in Domantas Sabonis, and any of their upcoming first-round picks, as the Pacers control all of their own selections (aside from a weirdly protected second-rounder that might make it tough for the Pacers to attach any picks outside of the top 30 for the next few years).
Let’s throw in T.J. Leaf to make the salaries work, and those three Pacers for Jimmy Butler passes ESPN’s trade machine as a functional NBA trade. In addition to the players and pick(s), the Wolves get something else from the deal: cap space. Butler’s contract is worth more than $20 million this season, while those three Pacers will get just about $15.5 million combined.
It’s not the sexiest deal out there, and it might not get the job done, but would it hurt Kevin Pritchard to call Tom Thibodeau, or Scott Layden, or Glen Taylor, or whoever the hell runs the show in Minnesota to see if the Wolves might be interested? It would certainly be worth the call if the Pacers got to pair Oladipo and Butler because of it.
Even in an Eastern Conference with a surprisingly good top four to five teams, an Oladipo-Butler pairing with gritty role players around them would make one hell of a squad. The Pacers are already good, but they could take a step forward by adding a second star to the mix.
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