NBA Trade Rumors: Pacers Got 'Plenty of Calls' for Myles Turner, Domantas SabonisDecember 9, 2021
Indiana Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said the front office is "fielding plenty of calls" from teams interested in a trade for center Myles Turner or forward Domantas Sabonis.
Pritchard told Jared Weiss of The Athletic on Thursday the franchise is going to practice transparency with its players as it considers potential blockbuster deals.
"If they ever want to ask me anything, they can ask me anything," Pritchard said. "When we get close to making a trade, we don't try to just bop a guy over the head with, 'Oh, by the way, you're traded.' We will give them a heads up, and we've done that multiple times."
Both Turner and Sabonis could generate sizable return packages for the Pacers before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline if the team decides to move forward with a full-scale rebuild. Things are trending in that direction following a lackluster 11-16 start to the 2021-22 season.
Turner is one of the league's premier shot-blockers—he leads the NBA with 2.8 blocks per game so far this season—but he's envisioned himself becoming a more integral part of the Pacers' offensive game plan, and that hasn't happened. He ranks fifth on the team in scoring (12.9 PPG).
The 25-year-old University of Texas product told Weiss he'd welcome an opportunity to take on a more well-rounded role elsewhere.
"It's clear that I'm not valued as anything more than a glorified role player here, and I want something more, more opportunity," Turner said. "I'm trying really hard to make the role that I'm given here work and find a way to maximize it. I've been trying to the past two, three seasons. But it's clear to me that, just numbers-wise, I'm not valued as more than a rotational role player, and I hold myself in a higher regard than that."
Pritchard hinted the fact Turner is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent during the 2023 offseason is also a factor as the team plans its future.
"I admire that he wants to get better, and I think he's the kind of player that will work every single summer to get better too," he told The Athletic. "He's a modern-day big, and those guys are going to be valuable. I'm sure at the end of his contract, he'll have a lot of suitors."
Meanwhile, Sabonis is a well-rounded contributor, averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 58 percent from the field across 27 appearances in 2021-22. He ranks 11th among all NBA players in FiveThirtyEight's WAR metric.
He's under contract through 2023-24, so he should attract interest from both contenders and teams looking to build for the future, which should maximize the return if Indiana ultimately decides to start moving in a new direction.
While the Pacers seemingly have the foundation to turn things around, Pritchard shrugged off the idea of trying to add before the deadline to improve their playoff chances rather than subtracting, possibly in a significant way.
"Making trades at the trade deadline can help. But, really, there's no proof that you can really substantially improve," he told Weiss. "You can change it for a later timeline. But to improve today, it's awfully hard. Because a lot of times, you have to find good trading partners, a team that's going in a completely different direction. The thing about the NBA right now is there's only like four or five teams that are really trying to look to the immediate future."
Those comments make it sound like Indiana would rather focus on becoming a true title contender a handful of years down the road than trying to patch a roster together to sneak into the playoffs and hope for a magical postseason run.
That's not necessarily a bad approach—being caught in the middle between legitimate championship contention and securing top-five draft picks is often the worst place in sports—but that type of honesty isn't always easy for fans to hear.
So, barring a serious surge over the next month, it appears the Pacers will be among the NBA's marquee sellers leading up to the deadline, with Turner and Sabonis being impact players who could definitely help shake up the title chase.