And the latest rumor involves Indiana making a play for Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez.
I leave u with this: Pacers R trying 2 get Lopez. Will their 2017 No. 1, Jefferson & Stuckey satisfy BK? Can Nets get more from C's or NO?
— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) February 20, 2017
As you can see, NBA columnist Peter Vecsey is the source, which is credible enough. The deal also makes sense, given that Indiana could play a traditional center like Lopez alongside forward/center Myles Turner and George.
Another reason why this goes in the Pacers’ favor is that they have too many combo guards, and moving Rodney Stuckey would help reduce the number.
Lopez is having another fine season, averaging 20.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. He’s also added the three-point shot to his arsenal for the first time in his 9-year career, hitting at a 34.4% clip.
But the problem is that this deal doesn’t make much sense for the Nets.
Lopez is a near All-Star, and a mid-first-round pick (Pacers are 29-28) and two veteran reserves (no expiring contracts) doesn’t seem like enough for him.
It’s questionable whether this deal is really happening either because, under team president Larry Bird, Indiana hasn’t been very generous with trade rumors.
This isn’t to say that Vecsey is totally wrong because he’s been in the Pacers loop since the 1980s, when his friend Donnie Walsh became the Pacers president. Walsh still holds a position with Indiana, so it’s possible that he leaked some info to Vescey.
The tweet also mentions the New Orleans Pelicans and Boston Celtics, both of whom have been seeking centers. However, New Orleans is now out of the running because they traded for DeMarcus Cousins this weekend.
Is a Mid-First Rounder Enough for Lopez?
The Sacramento Kings gave up Cousins for Buddy Hield, guards Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway, forward Omri Casspi, and the Pelicans’ 2017 first and second-round picks. Hield could develop into a very good player, and the pick might end up being in the Lottery.
But Cousins is a proven All-Star who, even with attitude problems, can carry a team with his 27.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. A developing Hield, a mid-first-round pick, and role players aren’t enough for him.
Lopez is also a very good center who’s added a three-point shot. Even still, he doesn’t have the ball-handling skills or speed of Cousins, nor is he as good a rebounder.
A mid-first rounder and two reserves isn’t a great return on him. But maybe this is the going rate for quality centers in a day when teams are still cobbling together small-ball lineups.
Indiana Considering Jahlil Okafor
According to IndyCornRows, the Pacers are still inquiring about Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor . We covered Okafor’s availability before, with New Orleans leading the way before trading for Cousins.
It’s unclear what Indiana has floated in pursuit of Okafor, but we imagine that the Sixers want more than a mid-first-round pick. After all, the second-year player was selected third overall in the 2015 NBA Draft and is averaging 15.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in limited minutes.
Philadelphia would love to move Okafor before this Thursday’s trade deadline. There’s no way they’re dealing a potential franchise changer like Joel Embiid, while Nerlens Noel complements Embiid’s game more. This leaves Okafor as the odd man out in the center rotation. But again, it’s hard telling what Indiana has that would make them a legitimate trade partner in this situation.
Would Indiana even Pursue a Center if Thaddeus Young were Playing?
Forward Thaddeus Young injured his wrist in early February, and the Pacers have gone 2-6 in his absence, including a six-game losing streak. This pushed Indiana back near .500 and has George voicing uncertainty over re-signing with the team in 2018.
Young is averaging 11.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while shooting a career-high 39.6% from beyond the arc. He gives Indiana an excellent front court when put between Turner and George. But in his absence, the Pacers have been forced to rely on aging veteran Al Jefferson and third-stringer Kevin Seraphin more.
Neither is playing well, and it’s forced Indiana to look outside the lines for a solution, including trading a pick and rotation players to win now.
With Young still sidelined with a wrist sprain, there’s no telling when Indiana will win again. But as the Lopez rumors indicate, they’re willing to force the issue to make it happen soon.