The Indiana Pacers have made their two-big lineups work this season. But if they decided to simplify and flip Myles Turner, these deals could make sense.
Just before this season began, the Pacers signed Domantas Sabonis to a four-year contract extension, committing to the two-big experiment they’ve been playing with for the past few years. The double-center lineups with Myles Turner and Sabonis have actually been successful, outscoring opponents by an average of 6.5 points per 100 possessions.
However, despite a 29-16 record and the impending return of Victor Oladipo, the Pacers still look to be a tier below fellow Eastern Conference teams like the Heat, Bucks, 76ers and Raptors. Trading Turner is the one obvious gamble Indiana could make to try and move up, although it means walking a tightrope to return value for both the present and the future. There are no easy answers but the deals below offer some interesting scenarios to consider.
5. Juice the offense
First Round Pick
Of all the made-up deals here, this may be the riskiest for the Pacers. Turner currently adds value at both ends of the floor and the primary players returned in this trade sort of split that skill set. Noel can finish in the pick-and-roll but he’s mostly just a disruptive defender who could theoretically replace some of what Turner currently gives the Pacers in the middle of the floor. Gallinari, on the other hand, is essentially an offense-only four. However, what he offers as a shooter, off-the-dribble creator and mismatch-exploiter is far more impactful than the threat of Turner’s spacing.
There’s a scenario where this pairing gives Nate McMillan more flexibility to target specific matchups in the playoffs, make things more of a chess match and seeking advantages at either end of the floor depending on the situation. Both Noel and Gallinari are expiring deals so there is no long-term financial risk here for the Pacers and they could pick up when of Oklahoma City’s myriad future picks as compensation for giving up the best and youngest player in the deal.
For the Thunder, Noel and Gallinari aren’t long-term pieces and while Turner may not be a star, he’s a sureish thing in his present form and probably a better outcome than they’ll realize on several of those future first-round picks if they keep them.