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Indiana Pacers still reaping the benefit of the Jalen Smith trade

Chris Phillips

The Indiana Pacers made a trade with Phoenix last season to bring in Jalen Smith. The deal didn’t garner a lot of national attention at the time. However, looking back, this was a big trade for the Pacers.

Smith is a former lottery pick by Phoenix. Their hope was that he could play well next to Deandre Ayton and be a stretch four. That didn’t work out at all. Meanwhile, in Indiana, all Smith has done is ball out.

Jalen Smith making a name for himself with Pacers

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Chicago Bulls
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Once he got to Indy, Smith’s minutes just about doubled, as did his production.

  • Phoenix: 6 pts, 46% FG, 23.1% 3P, 76.9% FT, 4.8 reb, 0.2 ast and stl, and 0.6 blk
  • Indiana: 13.4 pts, 53.1% FG, 37.3% 3P, 76% FT, 7.6 reb, 0.8 ast, 1 blk, and 0.4 stl

He played so well that every fan took notice and was demanding that the Pacers keep Smith. Smith was suddenly displaying everything that Phoenix thought they were getting when they drafted him. A big man who can shoot the three ball, rebound, block shots, and play defense.

Not to mention he was getting to play alongside Tyrese Haliburton, who the franchise is building around. So, they had the point guard of their future and their big man. Well, maybe. Because he had been playing so well, many other NBA teams had taken notice. 

Many teams were stating that Smith is the modern prototype big man. Especially one who is more of a power forward than a center. And because of how Phoenix had executed Smith’s contract, the Pacers, unfortunately, were going to need a miracle to get him to re-sign. As every other team could offer him significantly more money.

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The start of a beautiful friendship

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Philadelphia 76ers
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the miracle was answered as Smith re-signed with the Pacers. He said he felt a sort of loyalty to the organization that legitimately gave him a chance. He signed a three-year $15.1 million deal, and the team guaranteed him the starting power forward position. Now, the pressure was really going to be on.

Now that he got his money, Smith was going to have to validate the deal with his play. So far this season, he is earning every penny and then some of his deal.

  • 13.8 PTS
  • 50.9% FG
  • 31.8% 3P
  • 60% FT
  • 8.8 REB
  • 1 AST
  • 1.4 BLK
  • 0.2 STL

Unfortunately, the team is only 1-4 on the season. However, that’s not really important this year as the team is currently in its rebuild. As previously mentioned, the team already has the point guard of the future. And with their most recent draft pick, Bennedict Mathurin, it looks like they have their shooting guard of the future as well.

Now there are still questions about what the team will or should do with its veteran players. The team has a decent amount of quality veterans that can help title-contending teams. But regardless of the trades they do or don’t make, Smith has secured his place in the Pacers’ core group of athletes to build around.

This trade won’t go down as one of the best in NBA history. It will, however, go down as just another time when the Pacers got the better of Phoenix. And Pacers fans everywhere are very thankful for Phoenix’s generosity.

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