The Indiana Pacers might press the big red button.
"In need of a new direction amid a 10-16 start to the season, the Indiana Pacers are moving toward a substantial rebuild and are expected to open up trade conversations around some of their veteran stalwarts, sources tell The Athletic."
The report lists Caris LeVert as a name that's garnered interest from teams around the league. BasketballNews.com wrote about five teams that could make sense for the 27-year-old swingman on Tuesday.
Myles Turner also intrigues the masses; with his blend of shooting and elite rim protection, why wouldn't he?
And then there's Domantas Sabonis, the two-time All-Star bruiser who the Pacers are willing to take calls on.
There's been plenty of smoke over the past few seasons about the Sabonis-Turner pairing, and how tenable it is long-term. If there was a split, Turner seemed to be the odd man out. But if Sabonis is actually available, the calculus on that changes.
WHAT SABONIS BRINGS TO THE TABLE
Don't tell Rick Carlisle, but Sabonis is a high-level post hub.
Dump it to him at the elbow, and he'll give you options. He can flow into handoffs with guards, prying his partner open for shots or rolling into open space. He can take matters into his own hands, facing up or bumping and grinding his way into paint touches. Or, he can set up shop and pick out cutters in stationary sets.
Sabonis is most effective at the elbow, but because of his mix of ball skills and brute strength, he can be moved around the chessboard a bit.
He's a willing participant in Delay sets — the cue would be a big handling the ball above the break — which allows him to pry guards open higher on the floor. Pull-up twos turn into three-point opportunities; and for Sabonis, he has even more space to roll into when operating that high.
And then, there's the traditional low-post usage for him. He's a bully in every sense of the word. Having tremendous footwork is a bonus (I avoided the pun, you're welcome), but the physicality really stands out with him.
The scoring is the impressive (and important) part, but I've always marveled at how Sabonis nails the little things. He makes himself available, as simple as that sounds. High hands. Constant movement. He always jockeys for position, creating post looks out of nowhere. He's not just a hub; he's a security blanket of sorts.
What Sabonis is not, however, is a shooter. The "stretch big" experiment in OKC lasted one (1) season — his rookie campaign — and even that was a 32.1% clip on 2.0 attempts. He's gotten back to slinging them on occasion over the past two seasons, but his numbers (30.9% on 2.6 attempts) underwhelm.
Sabonis is also a limited defender. A lack of length (6-foot-10.5 wingspan) and vertical pop prevent him from being a real rim deterrent. His lateral mobility isn't at a level where you'd be comfortable switching him.
But this is where we have to be careful with Sabonis. He has clear limitations, but he isn't useless. The Pacers have experimented with showing at the level of the screen, or outright blitzing them.
He's not equipped to do that full-time, but he does have active hands and a solid enough understanding of positioning to pull the coverage off.
Funny enough, the Pacers' ball-screen defense featuring Sabonis has fared better in more aggressive coverages. Per Second Spectrum, opponents are generating 1.07 points per possession when Sabonis is in drop (or "soft") coverage; that number drops to 1.0 when Sabonis shows and recovers, or outright blitzes the screen.
Neither mark is great — again, Sabonis has his limitations — but he can work as a cog if you have the personnel around him. Elite point-of-attack defenders are needed if you want him to work in drop; active backline helpers are needed if you want him to play aggressively.