The Pacers Risk Ruining a Necessary Organizational Reset by Selling Too High on Myles Turner and Caris LeVert

The Indiana Pacers have a pair of top trade assets in Myles Turner and Caris LeVert. They cannot afford to waste either as they prepare to embark on a critical organizational reset before the NBA trade deadline.

Turner could soon find himself on a new team, with numerous clubs engaging the Pacers in conversations. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers previously showed interest in LeVert, who can help a number of backcourt units with his scoring and playmaking.

Team president Kevin Pritchard’s phones are likely ringing off the hook. The Pacers should have no issue getting strong deals for both players. However, they cannot afford to alienate inquiring clubs by selling too high.

The Pacers will likely sell before the NBA trade deadline

The Pacers likely hoped to improve upon a 2020-21 season in which they made the play-in tournament. After all, Indiana managed to have some success despite the drama surrounding rookie head coach Nate Bjorkgren and injuries to Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, and T.J. Warren.

But things have not gone as planned for the Pacers.

Indiana (15-28) is 13th in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers rank 19th in net rating and typically struggle defensively. They’ve essentially forecasted their willingness to make moves since the beginning of December. Indiana is almost guaranteed to sell ahead of the NBA trade deadline.

Initially, it appeared as though nearly everyone on the Pacers’ roster could be had in a trade, including Domantas Sabonis. While Sabonis is likely off the block, the Pacers remain intent on maximizing the return on guys who are reportedly available.

Indiana looking for big returns in potential trades for Myles Turner and Caris LeVert

Indiana Pacers teammates Myles Turner and Caris LeVert high-five during an NBA game in March 2021
Myles Turner #33 and Caris LeVert #22 of the Indiana Pacers high-five during a game against the Miami Heat on March 19, 2021 | Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Indiana appears to understand the high demand opposing teams have for Turner and LeVert. The Pacers intend to cash in on that interest.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported the Pacers want a pair of first-round picks for Turner, or a first and a “promising young player.” They appear to want something similar for LeVert, according to Scotto, who reports that acquiring the combo guard might take a first-round pick and a “good young player.”

It stands to reason that the Pacers want future assets to strengthen the team’s foundation. On its face, the asking price for Turner and LeVert, respectively, appears reasonable.

Turner is the most formidable shot-blocker in the NBA, averaging 2.8 swats this season after winning the block title in 2020-21. He’s also a rim-rolling big who can space the floor with his ability to shoot it from deep. The athleticism and paint protection make him a hot commodity, especially given he’s under contract through next season.

LeVert scores well off the bounce and adds production as a secondary ball-handler. He has a knack for creating separation with the dribble and relentlessly attacks the rim. The Ohio native is also locked up through 2022-23.

Still, much of Indiana’s ask depends on how the Pacers define any young player they could get back in a trade, plus the kind of draft capital — whether they want 2022 picks or future selections — that they seek. While the demands seem fair, Indiana cannot risk alienating inquiring teams.

Make the best deal available

The Pacers have an opportunity to obtain premium assets before the NBA trade deadline. While they can initiate something of a bidding war, they cannot bid against themselves, either.

Indiana is not going anywhere this season. It is better off making the best deal available whenever the Pacers see fit, rather than getting pressed into a deal they didn’t really want come deadline day.

After issuing public criticisms last month, Turner doesn’t want a future with the organization. LeVert has less value to Indiana given the presence of rookie Chris Duarte. So although the Pacers want to get the best return they can for quality players, it’s also unwise to let the situation fester before it becomes unsavory.

The Pacers already have a strong base in Sabonis and Brogdon. Duarte should continue to improve. The pieces are there, and trading Turner and LeVert would allow the Pacers to reshape the organization. They cannot get overly greedy in doing so.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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