Pacers Mailbag: Clarity on Myles Turner, trade considerations, Buddy Hield's role and more
Answering questions from paid subscribers.
Each month, I’ll open it up to paid subscribers for questions. As always, you can leave your comments below or click here to send me an email.
Hali-arte: How do you see next season playing out for Myles Turner? We all know he loves Indy but will likely want to test free agency. I wonder if things will play out similarly to LeVert and Oladipo where he'll play a few months into the season (to showcase what he can do) and get traded before the deadline.
This is the number one question I’m asked. It’s a big one without any obvious answer at the moment. Drafted in 2015, he’s the longest-tenured Pacer and has maintained his commitment to the franchise and this city. There’s no hiding the fact that he’s been unhappy with his role the past few years — and how they’ve gone from a playoff team to a rebuilding roster. He wants more of a role offensively and he wants to experience team success again. Keep in mind that he’s never reached even the second round of the postseason.
This is all tricky and I know many of you had a similar question. Adding to the complexity: He’s coming off a foot injury and did not finish the last two seasons. He’s just 26 but as a big man, that’s concerning. So from a value perspective, I also view this similar to Victor Oladipo’s situation in 2020. He played several months, demonstrated that he could be a 20 ppg scorer again so a team was willing to acquire him. That worked out very well for the Pacers front office as they then acquired Caris LeVert. There’s always a risk of injury, but that comes with the territory. I previously reported how he’s now 100% healthy, working out daily and regaining his rhythm again after sitting for months.
dal9: Kravitz just now supposedly said Turner "has no interest in staying in Indy" ... sounds shaky. Any truth to it?
Chuck: You have said previously that Turner loves Indy and would like to stay. This week Bob Kravitz said essentially the opposite… that Turner has no interest in staying in Indy and would not sign an extension. Thoughts?
My understanding remains the same: Myles is committed to the Pacers and looks forward to the possibility of a larger role and also playing with Tyrese Haliburton for the first time. He does want to be valued and is tired of constantly being in trade rumors. That would be bothersome to anyone. In recruiting Deandre Ayton and signing him to a max contract, it tells Turner that he’s not safe and they were willing to pay someone more at his position.
In terms of the contract, Turner has never been a free agent so it interests him. And, of course, he’d like to lock in a substantial deal, what he hopes will be the largest contract in his playing career. I do not expect for there to be an extension with the Pacers before the season.
Christopher: Does Isaiah Jackson project longterm as a 4 or a 5? (I know, I know, positionless basketball these days...) To me it seems like his skillset closely mirrors Myles and he could potentially replace him, if he can get his 3P% and his weight up. Thoughts?
It’s going to be fun to see him play next season and the leap he makes after Year 1. His rim running is much needed, creating a new dynamic for this team. They were frustrated by the lack of activity and dunks last season; that will change with more playing time for Jackson. He still has a ways to go. I’m interested to see how his defense evolves beyond protecting the rim. I view him more as a 5, though he’s not become a threat from range yet. I can tell you this: the franchise is very high on him.
Tim: Do you foresee any urgency from the Pacers side to move Buddy as the season approaches, in order to be able to play the trio of Tyrese, Mathurin and Duarte all at the same time? Or do you view Duarte as a perfect 6th man?
I don’t believe there is urgency to move him. I haven’t heard anyone utter a bad word about Buddy. So many are quick to praise his work ethic and love for the game. He’ll play anywhere, anytime. He’s reliable, only missing one game last season — and that was because of the trade. Including that absence, he’s played in 386 of 390 games over the last FIVE seasons. The NBA needs more players with that durability and determination. … I think on a playoff roster, Duarte is the perfect sixth man. Hield has established chemistry with Haliburton, but he’s also accustom to coming off the bench. So I think it will come down to fit; Duarte likely has a larger opportunity with the second unit.
Krzysztof: Assuming Turner and Hield get traded - and it sure feels like they will, sooner or later - what will the Pacers seek in return? As many 2023 draft assets as possible? Picks in later years? A young and promising player? A very solid vet?
Is there anyone on current roster that could be the big time leader Kevin Pritchard has long been looking for?
Who is your role model in the media world?
Thanks for the many questions. Let me quickly run through them. 1) They’d want the combination of draft capital and a rising star. Imagine if they could add a wing threat to this roster filled with guards and bigs. (They’ll push for a bigger name who is already a star, but it’s unlikely to happen.) They’ve lacked a true 3-and-D player since Paul George, but the next one will likely come via the draft. They’re already set up to have three 1sts in 2023, and you’d like them sooner rather than later. Yet another reason why dealing with the Lakers makes zero sense. None. The core is 22 & under and likely two years away from taking off.
2) He’s still young, but Tyrese Haliburton seems to be that guy. And Bennedict Mathurin is right behind them. What KP was really speaking of was a veteran influence — and no, I don’t believe they have that. T.J. McConnell will be a great coach some day and can contribute there. He’s played for multiple teams, dealt with free agency, reached the playoffs and been on a rebuilding team. That’s valuable experience. I still think they should bring in a vet to help the numerous young guys. Thad Young, in 2019, was the last to be that guy, a Glue Guy. Al Jefferson before that.
3) It has always been Don Fischer, the radio voice of IU football and basketball. Get this: He’s entering his 50th season. Remarkable. In terms of NBA coverage, beat writing and reporting: Brian Windhorst. He’s been terrific to me and taught me a lot going back to the Pacers-Heat playoff battles a decade ago.
**See Also: Q&A with Pacers President Kevin Pritchard**
Adama: Chad Buchanan said ball was a little bit in Myles court in regards to being on the team long term, I did hear talks that they liked Myles plus Hali pre-draft and were interested to extend, and then it just switched quickly with no development. If you had to guess, would you pick the Pacers offered Myles the max they could around 21 and Myles said no or the foot injury scared them away and they offered him a long term deal but at less money?
I don’t believe there has been any movement on an extension. Turner wants to get to free agency and that’s best for the Pacers anyway. They need to see more from him — coming off injuries, playing for Rick Carlisle and with this new roster. And look at the deals most centers are getting now. Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, MVP candidates, are the exception. Myles could also decide he’d be better elsewhere, getting a fresh start and fitting into a more playoff-ready roster. They could afford Turner at $21 million per year, especially with a younger roster, but I would be stunned to see that offered. So it’s more likely that he goes elsewhere.
Keith: Here goes: why do you think the Pacers wanted it public that they were discussing a Westbrook trade with the Lakers? I assume Kravitz surely got the story from Pritchard or Simon. Maybe they were trying to stimulate any nascent interest in Buddy or Myles from any other team. I think it makes them look bad. Myles’ twitter response seemed to indicate he felt the same. What do you think???
That whole day was strange. A Pacers-Lakers deal for Westbrook never made sense, not in April and not today. (It’s why I haven’t even written about it; maybe I should?) It’s all a game of leverage and perceived value leading up to a deal. Why would any team want to take on Westbrook’s contract? And for assets five years down the road? The Pacers are heavy at guard anyway. … Now, I never guess on sources of others. And bailing the Lakers out of that contract doesn’t add up.
DRH: Are the Myles Turner reports just coming from the press, or do you think the Pacers want him gone? Is it the money, the foot, what is it they don't like about him? He can do a lot of things that I'm not sure a replacement can do.
I don’t believe the Pacers “want him gone.” They’re constantly reviewing the roster and projecting two and three years out. Considering options like extending him (and at what cost), trading him to get value in return before the trade deadline or the simple value of his $18 million off the books. If they don’t intend to bring him back, they need to get value in return. Especially being a small market. There has been interest in him for many years — teams like the Hornets, Raptors, Lakers, Mavericks, Hawks, Pelicans and I’m sure a few more. So that’s what the front office must be considering.
Michael: There’s been almost zero talk of Goga this off-season. Considering how the Pacers have retooled but are still probably on the outside of playoffs, does he have a role on this team or is his time essentially done?
You’re right, no mention of him. Until this week on Fieldhouse Files. I talked with him and have an update. He’s entering the final year of his rookie deal and I don’t believe he fits the playing style. Plus, there’s Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith.
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