The 2022-2023 NBA season has been a huge surprise for the Indiana Pacers. Coming into the season, many fans and experts expected this team to be bad. And to the surprise of most likely everyone outside of the organization, this team is succeeding and entertaining even in their defeats. This makes the approaching trade deadline all the more intriguing, which could include a Chris Duarte trade.
The aforementioned NBA trade deadline is on Feb. 9, and the Pacers are at a bit of a crossroads. Currently, they are the 8th seed in the play-in tournament and would face Atlanta if the playoffs started today. And now the team has two big questions.
How will the roster fair (over the next two weeks) while Tyrese Haliburton is out with injury, and what do they do with Myles Turner? A name that’s recently been drawing interest from other teams is Chris Duarte. He’s not having the best sophomore season in the NBA, but some of that has to do with the injury he suffered, a decrease in minutes, and a horrid shooting slump. It’s possible he no longer fits in the plans of the Pacers.
Here are four possible trade scenarios for the 25-year-old wing.
Atlanta Hawks buy low on potential with Chris Duarte
As previously mentioned, Duarte is having a down season. Another player that is having a down season and also drawing interest on the trade market is John Collins. He’s made it clear that he wants out of Atlanta and that his pairing with Trae Young is no longer working.
The Pacers had a shot to draft Collins but instead chose T.J. Leaf in 2017. Now years later, this could be a situation where both teams swap players (Duarte and Collins) to help each other. The Pacers get the power forward they’ve been looking for. While Atlanta gets another versatile wing and scorer. A change of scenery for both players could do them well and get them back to their previous form. But the Pacers would likely have to sweeten the deal while also making salaries match, which could lead to Buddy Hield or Myles Turner added to the deal.
Phoenix Suns try to create a spark
Phoenix is not having the season they were expecting. Part of that has to do with injuries to their roster. More specifically, to their two most important players. Now, there’s growing talk that the team could have an interest in trading Deandre Ayton. This isn’t surprising, considering they almost lost him to Indiana in the offseason.
As previously mentioned, the Pacers were this close to obtaining Ayton. This time around, the team gets their man. Unfortunately, it costs them more than just money this time, and the Pacers actually can’t even complete this one before the deadline. It’s tricky, but since the Pacers were the team that signed Ayton to an offer sheet, he can’t land in Indiana for at least a full calendar year from the agreement.
Still, a deal that may work out later on could see Indiana send out Duarte, Buddy Hield, and Boston’s first-round pick in the 2023 NBA draft in exchange for Ayton and Phoenix’s second-round pick in the 2023 draft.
Meanwhile, Phoenix gets younger, and adds another shooter while gaining some more ammo to move up in the draft.
Portland Trail Blazers continue adding young talent
Portland is having a very disappointing season, as they are currently in ninth place in the West. This offseason, they traded with Detroit to acquire Jerami Grant. At the beginning of the season, this looked like a move that was paying dividends. Now, the team might be looking toward the future.
In this scenario, the Pacers and Portland agree to a player swap. Grant heads to Indiana to provide them with a versatile power forward to play alongside Turner and help them make a push in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Portland continues building a younger roster to compete in the future.
Toronto Raptors part with O.G. Anunoby
Toronto is vastly underachieving this season. Currently, they are just outside the play-in tournament. There’s been a lot of thought that they could be sellers at the deadline. Their two biggest trade pieces are Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby. Anunoby is the guy many Pacers fans have been clamoring for.
Here these two teams get together on a trade. The Pacers send Duarte, Goga Bitadze, and a 2023 Top 5 protected first-round pick for Anunoby and a 2026 first-round pick. For Toronto, they get a valuable draft pick and some lineup flexibility.
Either Bitadze and/or Duarte can start or come off the bench. For the Pacers, they get a big wing defender that they’ve sorely been needing. This would also be a move that hopefully pushes them higher up in the standings and a deeper playoff run.