The NBA trade deadline came and went on Thursday afternoon and as always the trade rumors were more exciting than the actual trades that happened. The most significant deal that took place was the Indiana Pacers trading Danny Granger to the Philadelphia 76ers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. For the Sixers the deal signifies that they are fully dedicated to rebuilding. They have the second worst record in the league and will be using their high draft pick in this years draft to build around their talented young players Michael Carter Williams and Nerlens Noel. For the Pacers, the deal signifies that they are dedicated to winning a championship this season.
Evan Turner is having one of the best seasons of his career averaging 17.4 points, 6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. He is a talented guard who can handle the ball and add a little scoring punch to the Pacers bench. Although Evan Turner is definitely an upgrade over Danny Granger, I’m not so sure that he’s the exact piece that they needed to put them over the top. His stats are impressive but you also have to take into account that he was putting these numbers up on one of the worst teams in the league. Not to mention that he is not a very good defender and his outside shooting is a little bit spotty.
The addition of Turner does allow the Pacers the flexibility to put some pretty interesting lineups on the floor. Because he can handle the ball and is a good passer, the Pacers could put Turner in at point guard for short stretches and really give opposing defenses a hard time. It’ll be interesting to see how they work Turner into the lineup and they don’t have a long time to figure it out before the playoffs start. The Pacers also added Andrew Bynum to the mix earlier in the season and they hope that he can contribute in a playoff run.
The Pacers have laid the blueprint for small market NBA teams that wish to compete for a championship. But really, all of the moves that the Pacers have made are to help them beat the Miami Heat. The Pacers have built a team that will give the Heat hell during the playoffs. They have two big men in Roy Hibbert and David West who can control the paint both defensively and offensively. They’ve got a budding superstar in Paul George who plays with a chip on his shoulder and feels that he is every bit as good as LeBron James. Lance Stephenson has also emerged this year averaging 14 points, 5.1 assists, and 7.3 rebounds this season. Stephenson is also in the last year of his contract and the Pacers are going to have to decide what they’re willing to do to keep him in the off season. The shooting guard position is one of the weakest in the league and some team is going to throw a boatload of money at him in the summer. Paying a premium for Stephenson could push the Pacers into the luxury tax which is something that not too many small market teams are willing to do.
Even though the Pacers are a game and a half up on the Heat for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, it still feels like they are chasing Miami. The Heat are the two-time defending champions, and the Pacers are looking to knock them off of the throne. It’s interesting to think that the Heat are less than two games back from the Pacers and they haven’t been at full strength. I think it’s important for the Pacers to get the number one seed because having home court advantage in a potential game 7 against the Heat could be the difference between going home for the summer and going to the NBA Finals.