Much like the Los Angeles Lakers, the Indiana Pacers have not seen their season go as planned. They currently sit at 15-25, in 13th place out of 15 Eastern Conference teams, and have been so bad for much of the year that they’re not only open to trading longtime cornerstones Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, but they’ve even gotten the green light from famously rebuild-allergic team governor Herb Simon to get worse in the short term to improve long-term.
The Lakers were linked to Turner at the trade deadline last year in talks that ultimately went nowhere, but according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the front office has re-registered their interest in dealing for the two-time league-leading shot blocker.
They also aren’t the only team to do so, per Shams (emphasis mine):
Rival teams are ramping up conversations with the Pacers involving guard Caris LeVert and center Myles Turner. The Mavericks and Knicks are expressing interest in trading for Turner, sources said. The Lakers and Hornets have had a level of interest in Turner as well, sources added.
What “interest” vs. “a level of interest” means is really anyone’s guess, but there is a potential (or at least legal) path to a deal here, if the Lakers wanted to include draft compensation and the Pacers really like Talen Horton-Tucker.
A deal including the classic Lakers trade machine pu pu platter of Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and a minimum contract for Turner — as long as it took place after Horton-Tucker’s trade restriction lifts on Jan. 15 — is legal salary-wise under the CBA, per Real GM’s trade checker (I used Kent Bazemore’s contract since he’s the only guy the Lakers aren’t currently using that could theoretically still be an NBA player, but you can take your pick among the merry minimums if you want to play around with it).
That probably wouldn’t be enough on its own, but if the Lakers tossed their potentially valuable 2027 first-round pick into that deal, maybe the Pacers would have some interest, depending on how they value the various assets in play here. I’m not going to pretend to know one way or the other, because every front office values players and picks differently.
Now, would other teams be able to outbid that? Probably. Would they? Who knows. But the point is that the Lakers could construct a deal here without involving Russell Westbrook — who reportedly no one wants — which is an important consideration. And while the Lakers appear to have found something with their LeBron-at-center lineup as they’ve gone increasingly smaller, younger and faster, acquiring Turner would not only give them a playable seven-footer alongside Anthony Davis, but would make them a menace at the rim defensively with both players’ shot-blocking abilities.
On the other end, Turner (a career 35.7% 3-point shooter) wouldn’t exactly space the floor, so a starting lineup with him, LeBron, Russ and AD would still be cramped while trying to score. But he would be a massive upgrade on both ends over the Lakers’ current center corp, and give them a viable two-big lineup option to go with their center-less change of pace around LeBron. That would potentially allow the team to have good lineup options in any matchup, something they’re somewhat lacking in right now with the very-limited Dwight Howard and the unplayable DeAndre Jordan.
It sounds like, for a variety of reasons, the Lakers aren’t the leaders in the clubhouse to acquire Turner right now, but he is an interesting name to keep an eye on that might be the best option if the Lakers want to split the difference between their title-winning identity in 2020 and their current micro-ball offensive lineups. We’ll see what happens as the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline approaches next month.
For those looking for more on the possible Pacers’ perspective on the Turner trade front, Caitlin Cooper — one of the best analysts in the NBA blogosphere, and the most universally trusted source for Pacers analysis — of Indy Cornrows spoke on the Knicks Film School podcast about how the team is likely looking to get players over picks for him, as well as breaking down his weird season on both her podcast and on Twitter. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.