4 players Pacers must move ahead of 2023 NBA trade deadline

The Indiana Pacers have arrived earlier than expected. Acquiring Tyrese Haliburton in exchange for Domantas Sabonis was quite the masterstroke that expedited their contending timeline. However, Haliburton’s knee and elbow injuries threaten to derail Indiana’s surprising 2022-23 campaign, which complicates their trade deadline plans even further.

It’s no secret that the Pacers have tried to dangle some of their veterans, most notably Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, in potential trades to further accumulate future draft assets. But amid the Pacers’ stellar start to the 2022-23 season and by head coach Rick Carlisle’s lobbying, the Pacers have rebuffed trade overtures for Turner. In fact, Indiana now wants to keep the 26-year old center in town, opening talks on a potential contract extension.

Moreover, the Pacers, once thought of to be sellers, now appear willing to add to their young core. With a glaring hole at power forward, the Pacers have made their interest known in swinging a trade for John Collinswhose price is apparently on the decline.

Nevertheless, the Pacers appear to be in danger of falling off a cliff with Tyrese Haliburton on the mend. They have lost five straight, with their three most recent losses being blowouts. And it’s bound to get more difficult from here, with Haliburton expected to return at the start of February, at best.

As a result, Indiana could end up revisiting potential trades for their more tenured players. Here are four players that Indiana must move in a trade with the February 9 trade deadline fast approaching.

Myles Turner

Myles Turner and Buddy Hield have been a popular trade pairing for quite some time now. But (spoiler alert) only Turner appears on this list. No one will be surprised if the Pacers end up dealing away from Hield. It may be difficult to believe but Hield, despite being drafted in 2016, is already 30 years of age. Moreover, Hield’s skillset makes him a very enticing option for teams looking to bolster their outside marksmanship.

But the Pacers may be better off trading away Turner if given the choice. One reason: Turner wants to be a free agent in a few months. Having rejected Indy’s contract extension offers, he could decide to look for greener pastures in July, especially after finding himself as the subject of trade talks aplenty over the years.

Thus, it may be better for the Pacers to take what they could in a potential trade than to lose him for nothing in free agency. And even with Myles Turner’s contract status, he’s sure to command a haul in a potential deal. He is averaging 17.1 points and 7.8 boards a night on 55.8 percent shooting from the field and 39.4 percent from deep – all career bests – not to mention his continued excellence in protecting the rim.

Teams such as the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly expressed interest in Turner; Perhaps Indiana could revisit those trade talks soon if their season continues to head south.

TJ McConnell

TJ McConnell, the undrafted 30-year old point guard, doesn’t have the flashiest skillset around. He’s not gonna wow anybody with feats of athleticism or dazzling scoring displays. But what he is is an underrated table-setter, capable of keeping an offense humming by allowing his teammates to get to his spots while possessing an uncanny nose for choosing when to get his.

And with Tyrese Haliburton out, McConnell has shown once more that he is capable of producing when he has the minutes. Despite coming off the bench for rookie Aaron Nembhard, McConnell has tallied stellar averages of 16.3 points, 8.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds a night over the past four games amid Haliburton’s injury.

It’s unclear whether this kind of performance would translate into a bigger role. After all, garbage time undoubtedly padded some of those numbers. But for a salary of $8.1 million for this season, there may not be a more solid yet unheralded backup point guard option on the trade market should Indy make him available.

Daniel Theis

Daniel Theis once played a huge part in a contending team’s roster. Back in the 2019-20 season, the Celtics called upon him to fill the void Al Horford’s departure left. However, those days are long gone. Theis just has not had the same impact since his free agency move to the Houston Rockets, and then finding himself back with the Celtics, he barely contributed to their run to the NBA Finals last season.

To make matters worse, Theis underwent knee surgery back in November. It’s unclear when he’ll be back in action. But if the Pacers can find a way to use his contract in a much bigger trade, they shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger, especially with the Pacers’ considerable depth at center.

Goga Bitadze

Goga Bitadze is most known for his iconic draft day picture alongside Zion Williamson. Since then, the only other thing that has been of note for his career was his in game shouting match with his former assistant coach.

Now in his fourth season, Bitadze just has not been able to carve out a consistent role for himself in Indianapolis. And the situation in Indy doesn’t appear to be at risk of changing anytime soon. Understandably, the Pacers have put out feelers towards other teams regarding a potential trade for Bitadze. Perhaps he could prove for another team that he’s worthy of staying in the league for the long haul.

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