For years, the trade rumors have been nonstop between Myles
Turner and the Indiana Pacers.
But in this latest chapter, things appear to be different.
After weeks of flirting with Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton,
Indiana stunningly extended a four-year, $133 million max offer
sheet to the Bahamian big man. And although the Suns matched and
retained Ayton right away, Turner’s long-term stance with the
Pacers now feels crystal clear.
The 26-year-old center doesn’t look to be in the Pacers’ plans,
and it feels like it’s in the best interest of both parties at this
point to finally break off from one another.
Even if it didn’t lead to an actual transaction, the Pacers’
aggressive pursuit of Ayton speaks volumes to the tune changing
within Indianapolis recently. Extending max offer sheets, let alone
to restricted free agents? That's unheard of throughout the
ownership tenure of Herb Simon, but the tides seem to be turning
towards a new era when the opportunity presents itself the Pacers
are going to go for it no matter the price.
So, where do the Pacers and Turner go from here? It’s going to
be a rocky road to reconciliation, one that might actually pick up
trade conversations around the league instead. How else should
Turner view the latest chapter besides seeing the writing on the
wall? Indiana did right by Malcolm Brogdon, cooperating with his
agent to ship him off to the best win-now destination. We could
soon see deja vu with Turner instead being moved by the rebuilding
Pacers in short order.
Since the midpoint of last season, Indiana has decided to
finally embrace a long-overdue rebuild attempt. Trading away
two-time All-Star center Domantas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings
for Tyrese Haliburton, the shift to becoming sellers and
prioritizing a full-on youth movement was instant. Post-Haliburton,
the Pacers brought aboard Jalen Smith and Aaron Nesmith via trade,
and selected Arizona wing Bennedict Mathurin at No. 6 overall to
pair alongside their star young point guard.
All of a sudden, Turner now feels like a clunky long-term fit
within the Pacers’ new nucleus of talent all under age-25, sans
Chris Duarte (25): Haliburton, Mathurin, Isaiah Jackson, Smith,
Nesmith, Oshae Brissett, Andrew Nembhard, Kendall Brown, Goga
When Indiana instead chose to chase Ayton at max dollar figures,
the franchise kind of already answered the question of whether or
not to pay Turner. Smith was re-signed to a team-friendly contract
— which included a promised starting spot at power forward — and
the internal development of Isaiah Jackson begins to become a
pivotal storyline to monitor with his immense two-way upside. With
Smith and Jackson ready to absorb heavy minutes on a roster nowhere
close to competing next season, it’s a plausible reality to predict
that a Turner trade will be the next notable NBA domino to
The curious case of Turner’s value now goes under the microscope
because it’s a complicated situation. There’s no denying the
game-changing impact Turner brings as one of the best shot-blockers
in the league, but his availability has become a recent concern.
It’s especially dicey because Turner’s last two seasons were cut
short due to foot injuries, which is never something you want to
see for a big man.
Also, with Turner now on an $18 million expiring contract,
Indiana missed its window awhile ago to flip him at his potential
peak value. Now, a potential return for Turner in a trade likely
falls into the same category as Brogdon, which features a late
first-round pick and maybe a prospect unable to crack a team’s
Here's a hypothetical example of a framework regarding the
Charlotte Hornets, an often-rumored Turner destination that could
bring back realistic value to the Pacers.
Pacers receive: Mason Plumlee, Kai Jones, JT Thor,
2023 first-round pick (via Nuggets)
Hornets receive: Myles Turner
It's certainly not a package that would make Pacers fans giddy
with enthusiasm, but it’s the hand dealt for the team's current
situation. If the Pacers were to add a fourth first-round pick for
next year’s draft, it could further shape their vision as a team
fully plunging into the tank race for Victor Wembanyama, Scoot
Henderson and other top prospects in the Class of 2023.
Although Turner may not fit the Pacers’ window anymore, his role
would make him an easy fit for any win-now organization.
Over the last four years, Turner’s statistics help display his
impact while also playing alongside another big in Sabonis: 12.7
points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game on 35.0% from
three-point range. Being able to protect the rim as well as anyone,
while also adequately spacing the floor for others, Turner’s
presence has the potential of elevating a team looking to be a
Finals contender. (Teams like the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers
and Toronto Raptors immediately come to mind as potential Turner
Indiana’s rebuild has started off strong, much in part to the
presence of Haliburton making it easier for everyone else. If
Mathurin becomes a hit, the Pacers' backcourt will be set for years
to come, and other young pieces to the puzzle should continue to
find their footing. And if they were to somehow get some lottery
luck next year, this Indiana rebuild projected to take a long time
might be much quicker than everyone expects.
Moving away from a stagnated core, Turner is the lone piece
remaining for the time being still in Indiana. Caris LeVert is in
Cleveland. Sabonis is alongside De’Aaron Fox on the Kings. Brogdon
recently joined a top title threat in Boston.
Where exactly will Turner end up soon enough? That’s the biggest
question looming out there, as the Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant
sagas continue to lead nowhere.