Pacers trade back, then get their guy at No. 8: Houston's Jarace Walker
Walker is a 19-year-old forward with a high motor, great instincts and a big presence on both ends of the court.
Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle singled out the need for the team to upgrade their defense and rebounding next season. Their top overall pick will help immediately in those areas.
Before the Pacers drafted 6-foot-8 forward Jarace Walker at No. 8, they completed a deal with the Washington Wizards — a team slotted one spot behind them.
So they acquired two future second-round picks — 2028 (via Suns) and 2029 (via Wizards), per league source — to swap picks with the Washington Wizards, who moved up from 8 to 7 to take France’s Bilal Coulibaly. He said afterward that he had no contact with the Pacers throughout the process so he was initially surprised.
But then the trade was announced and the Pacers got the guy they wanted all along in Walker with the 8th pick. He was the player I mentioned for the pick three weeks ago, and then reaffirmed Thursday before the big night.
The trade has not yet been completed, therefore Walker wore a Wizards hat on draft night. But then he swapped it for a Pacers hat for his press conference.
“There's a lot of things I can do on the basketball court,” he said. “They'll see that when I get to the team, with practices and just more games under my belt once I start getting more comfortable.”
As for how he’ll be utilized, “I feel like that's just up to the coach, how he wants to use me, what spots he wants to put me in,” Walker wisely replied. “He's a very smart coach. He'll be able to figure that out.”