The Indiana Pacers need a point guard. The Brooklyn Nets need to shave salary and get younger … see where I’m going with this?
Now, a few things would need to happen before Pacers president Larry Bird and Nets GM Billy King could even begin to exchange text messages (with emojis, I’m sure). First of all, Indiana wouldn’t be able to extend a qualifying offer to guard Evan Turner, which it seems Pacers management isn’t willing to do, anyway.
Turner’s qualifying offer is worth $8 million, a price tag much too steep following his mediocre performance last season.
Next–and here’s the big one–to avoid a luxury tax hit against their cap, the Pacers would have to essentially give up on big man Roy Hibbert and send him packing. Settle down; it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.
Hibbert’s debacle in the 2014 playoffs was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. In fact, he set a record for most scoreless games in the postseason by an All-Star, with four pathetic zero-point outings.
However, Hibbert’s occasional flashes of excellent defense make him appealing to teams in need of size (this just in: that’s a lot of teams). And with an asking price of just less than $15 million, which is reasonable for promising big men nowadays, I can see teams reaching out to Indiana to talk potential trade scenarios.
Unloading Roy Hibbert is not out of the question.
After all that’s done, we can get down to the meat of it. Deron Williams and some future draft picks to the Pacers in exchange for Lance Stephenson and George Hill.
I double-checked using ESPN Trade Machine, and assuming Stephenson signs for around $8 million-$12 million annually, the salaries do indeed match up (but ignore the Win Differential Analysis and the actual Indiana players included in the trade; I was only checking for financial logistics).
Here’s why the blockbuster swap makes sense for Indiana:
I already know what you’re gonna say: If you made the case for other teams to take a chance on Roy Hibbert, then why wouldn’t the Pacers?
Indiana can’t afford to be inconsistent again next season, especially not at the expense of Hibbert’s salary. Unlike every other team in the East (except Miami, and Chicago if they get Melo. We always have to make an exception when talking about the Heat compared to the East. They should just move to the West.), the Pacers are thinking NBA Finals or bust next year.
And with the way they played during the second-half of last season and into the playoffs, they’re gonna need to shake things up, or they risk slipping in the 2014-15 standings.
Much of the blame for Indiana’s struggles recently were put on two things: the lack of a true point guard, and the unpredictability of Roy Hibbert. Moving Hibbert and acquiring Deron Williams would address both of those problems.
Then, David West could slide over to the center position, and under-utilized Luis Scola could be inserted at power forward. A bit small, sure, but quick; and that’s how most NBA frontcourts do it these days.
What about Deron Williams’ ankles, you ask? Well, on the Pacers, D-Will can focus on getting everyone into their sets, making good decisions and crisp passes, and hitting open shots. They wouldn’t need him to fly around, penetrate, and carry the offense like he’s done his whole career, thus taking stress off his banged up body.
Here’s how it benefits Brooklyn:
Lance Stephenson is 23 years old. I repeat, 23 years old.
A number that low looks like hieroglyphics to the Nets, the second-oldest team in the league. But with Williams’ salary off the books, Brooklyn could also re-sign 28 year-old Shaun Livingston, pairing him with Stephenson to create a dynamic, electric, young backcourt.
With more freedom on the Nets’ less talented roster, Stephenson can re-discover his “walking-triple-double” swagger and develop into an All-Star (a la James Harden moving from OKC to the Rockets); and in his hometown, to boot. As a bonus, George Hill would be one of the better backup point guards in the NBA.
Is this all likely to happen? Not really.
Is it possible? Oh yes.
Not just possible, but a very intriguing option for both Indiana and Brooklyn.