The Indiana Pacers’ approach to the NBA trade deadline was opportunistic, understanding that they’re still a few pieces away from being a contender.
They can add key pieces in two ways: via the draft and trades.
So before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline, they added three future second-round picks to their draft capital for future deals. Moreover, they acquired 6-foot-8 forward Jordan Nwora, Indianapolis product George Hill for a second stint and veteran center Serge Ibaka.
It was all part of a four-team trade that included the Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks. To complete the deal, the Pacers also sent the draft rights of Juan Pablo Vaulet to Brooklyn and received cash considerations.
The Pacers plan to waive Ibaka, Fieldhouse Files has learned. Still, with a full 15-man roster, they had to clear three roster spots to create room to complete the transaction. So in a corresponding move, the Pacers waived Goga Bitadze, Terry Taylor and veteran James Johnson.
“We’re finding more and more out about what we have,” team president Kevin Pritchard said last week. “Every day, we’re learning a little bit more. There’s ups and downs. I don’t want to say we’re gonna quick grow this thing because I don’t know. It may take another year or two.”
Nwora is a 24-year-old wing who can help offensively. In a limited role off the bench in Milwaukee, the University of Louisville product averaged 6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. He was a second-round pick in 2020. Hill, who was a Pacer from 2011-16, will have more of a mentor role, a source said. His final season with the Pacers overlapped with Myles Turner’s first.
The Pacers have lost 13 of their last 15 games and have fallen from sixth to 12th in the Eastern Conference standings. They have four games left before the All-Star break, which begins on Feb. 16.
First up is the Suns, which includes center Deandre Ayton, who the Pacers signed to an offer sheet in the offseason. The Suns quickly matched the offer and kept him because he was a restricted free agent.
Scott Agness is in his 11th season as a beat writer covering the Indiana Pacers. Click here to read more of his work at FieldhouseFiles.com. He appears on “Kevin & Query” each Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
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