The Pacers’ surprise season could shift their plans ahead of the trade deadline. Once thought certainly to be sellers, could their playoff position push them to make trades to improve the team this year? As long as they keep Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, they’ll probably be good enough not to be bottom dwellers. And as long as Tyrese Haliburton is playing at an All-NBA level, their ceiling will be high enough to be in the playoff picture.
Indiana didn’t use up all their cap space after Phoenix matched their offer sheet for Deandre Ayton. They have $27.8 million in space rolled over into the season they could use to make uneven trades. That will make them a team to monitor especially since they are $15.4 million below the salary floor. If they don’t add that much to their payroll before the end of the season, the difference will be paid out to the players on the roster.
Turner’s career season has increased his trade value significantly. But as good as he is, how many teams out there need an upgrade at center and are willing to meet Indiana’s price for him? Teams like the Pelicans, Mavericks, Knicks, Blazers, and Raptors could all use him and have enough draft equity to get a deal done. If not moved, he becomes a renegotiation-and-extension candidate that could see his $18 million salary this season raised by as much as his $37.1 million maximum amount. That would give him the incentive to extend now while allowing the Pacers to reach the salary floor after the trade deadline and potentially get him on team-friendly cap hits in future seasons.
Hield is having a career season while averaging 3.9 threes per game on 42.6 percent from three. His bounce-back campaign and descending salary should make many teams interested in trading for him. Like Turner, the Pacers could look to extend him this offseason if they view him as part of their future. He will be eligible to extend this offseason for up to four years, $103.6 million.
Hield will also become eligible for a renegotiation and extension this offseason. The Pacers are projected to have $50 million in cap space with 11 players and their 3 first-round picks. There’s a scenario where the Pacers renegotiate and extend Turner this season and still have plenty of cap space left over this summer to do the same for Hield in the summer. They could be cautious about adding salaries beyond this current season if they plan to take the double renegotiation path in the offseason.
Some other veterans who could be available include TJ McConnell and Daniel Theis, but there may not be much of a market for them. Offloading them could further increase their cap space projection for next season. The Pacers could also look to trade Goga Bitadze, who is out of the rotation and is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason.