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Indiana Pacers won’t force a Myles Turner trade, even to meet salary cap obligations

Chris Phillips
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Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers have long looked to trade their former first-round pick Myles Turner but despite some recent offers they are not going to move him until they find a deal that is just right.

The Pacers are having a very interesting offseason. They were able to successfully trade Malcolm Brogdon for a good package highlighted by youngster Aaron Nesmith and a 2023 first-round pick. Then they took a huge swing at trying to land their biggest free agent signing in team history in pursuing Deandre Ayton. They offered him four years for $133 million. Unfortunately, Phoenix was not going to let their former number one overall pick leave so they matched the offer.

Since then not much has really happened. The NBA Summer League wrapped up and the sage of Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant trades continue on. This leads us to the most recent Westbrook trade. The latest rumor is Los Angeles sends a 2027 first-round pick, a couple of second-rounders, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Westbrook for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield.

Related: Examining the Indiana Pacers history and its impact on the future

Obviously, this offer wasn’t accepted. However, the door isn’t closed on these two teams getting together to make a deal. If Los Angeles includes another first-rounder it’s possible Turner and Hield could be Lakers next season. 

Pacers’ management is interested in acquiring the expensive point guard that is Westbrook. On the surface, it’s a bit perplexing and head-scratching that a team led by a young up-and-coming star in Tyrese Haliburton would want an aging vet that plays the same position. Granted Haliburton can play off the ball.

However, Westbrook is not a strong shooter (earning the nickname “WestBrick” last season) and his overall efficiency is in decline. So, what’s the interest in bringing in a declining star? He’ll sell some tickets for sure but he’s not bringing a title to Indy. The main reason the Pacers have interest in Westbrook is his contract. 

Reason for Indiana Pacers’ interest in Russell Westbrook

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The NBA has a salary cap minimum, meaning all teams need to spend a minimum amount of money on their roster. The Indiana Pacers’ current cap number is $94 million. The minimum is $111.29 million. So, they’re $17.29 under the minimum. And if they move Turner and Hield they’ll be shipping out $39.1 million while receiving a combined $57.3 million from Westbrook and Horton-Tucker. Subsequently, bringing Indiana over the minimum. This is most likely the only reason why the team is interested in acquiring Westbrook. 

The future first-round draft pick, or picks depending if LA wants to add another, are nice but they’re in 2027 and 2029. It’s really hard to judge just how valuable those picks will be. Most likely Anthony Davis and LeBron James will be retired or at least not nearly as good. However, it is LA and they can lure big-name free agents, so the team could still be a perennial playoff team.

A quick note, Los Angeles can’t send their 2025 first-round pick as they don’t have one in 2024 and it is not allowable for a team to not have a first-round pick in consecutive years.

Charlotte Hornets still interested in a Myles Turner trade

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Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Moving onto another team that is repeatedly interested in Turner is Charlotte. If it seems like every year the “Charlotte has an interest in acquiring Myles Turner” rumor pops up, well that’s because for a long time they’ve been wanting/needing an athletic, modern center. Now what’s most interesting about this year’s rumor is that they just drafted a young, athletic center in Mark Williams. We also need to note that Charlotte is still waiting to see how the legal proceedings of Miles Bridges play out too. This can also play an impact on what the team does.

Again the main driving force for Charlotte’s acquisition of Turner stems from them wanting to get out of Gordon Hayward’s contract. He still has two years left on his four-year $120 million deal. Each year is at $30 million a piece. The two rumored trades are Turner and Hield to Charlotte for Hayward, either P.J. Washington or Mark Williams, and a future first-round pick. The truth of the matter is these would both need to be combined in order for the trade to work beneficially from a financial standpoint. Hayward’s deal alone is about the equivalent of Turner and Hield’s. Indiana would be shipping out $39.2 million and taking back $39.6 million if it got Hayward, Washington, and Williams.

So, again, this trade doesn’t really work as Indiana would still be short of the salary minimum. A player like Kelly Oubre or the aforementioned Bridges would need to be included. However, Oubre is 26 years old and Bridges has his legal issues. Legal issues aside Charlotte likes Bridges so I’m not sure they’d want to move him to just get back Hield and Turner. Which subsequently only complicates the matter.

Why the Pacers won’t force a trade to meet salary cap minimums

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Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers have also come out and said they are not going to make a deal just to make a deal. They’ll make one if it’s beneficial to the team. But the team does need to get to the minimum level or face a penalty. That penalty would be missing the minimum salary threshold, which leads to then getting charged up to the amount anyway. That’s it. The excess is divided up amongst the players on the roster at a percentage determined by the NBA Player’s Association, and that’s all that happens. That’s not a punishment at all.

So, the team is in no rush to take on salary just to take on salary. Thus leaving Turner in a bit of an awkward state. And I have to believe that both sides are wanting to find a deal that works for everyone. The Pacers get a return they are happy with and Myles goes to a team where he can compete at a high level.

There are other teams that can make for a good landing spot for Turner and their return package is decent enough to consider. For example, the LA Clippers send Marcus Morris, Brandon Boston Jr., a 2027 first-round pick swap, and a 2028 first-round pick for Turner.

The New York Knicks unload all their bad deals (Julius Randle, Derrick Rose, and Evan Fournier) plus an injury-plagued Mitchell Robinson for Turner, Hield, and Daniel Theis. But ultimately the Pacers are going to wait for their version of a Godfather Offer. Something they can’t refuse and that’s when they’ll strike.