There’s an old adage in the NBA — and in pro sports on the whole — that states, if you’re not getting better, you’re probably getting worse. And while the Golden State Warriors have looked like the best team in the Association this season, that statement is exactly why the team likely continues to weigh potential roster moves on a daily basis.
Even as the Warriors boast one of the better mixes of star players, cagey vets and up-and-comers you’ll find, there are still areas where production could be improved. At the center spot, for example, Kevon Looney has been a solid tertiary piece at best while James Wiseman has yet to play this season due to injury.
To that end, a pair of star big men in the midst of their prime years could be ideal targets for a big-time boost in the pivot. Namely, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis of the Indiana Pacers.
And, as fate would have it, both players may have just become more available than they have ever been before.
The Athletic: Indy Is Finally Ready to Blow it Up
Over the last five years or so, the Pacers have been just good enough — with just enough upside on their roster — to refrain from embarking on a full-on rebuild. According to a report by The Athletic, though, Indy’s 10-16 start this year, after having gone 34-38 in 2020-21, may have changed the team’s strategy.
Wrote Shams Charania & Bob Kravitz:
Multiple sources said that the Pacers are receptive in trade dialogue with rival teams centered on potentially moving guard Caris LeVert and either two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis or center Myles Turner.
It was further noted that teams have been calling the Pacers about Turner and Sabonis “over the past several seasons,” but that new/old coach Rick Carlisle wanted an opportunity to see the duo on the court together. At this juncture, though, it would seem that the club’s front office is finally ready to turn the page.
Per the report, rivals teams have been unable to guage the Pacers’ level of urgency. In any case, the Warriors could — and probably should — be one of the teams giving them a ring when the time comes.
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Getting Either Player Would Probably Cost the Warriors Wiseman
Salary-matching makes potential deals between the Warriors and the Pacers limited in number. But there are still clear paths to making something happen, particularly where Turner is concerned.
Sabonis and Turner are both making $18-20 million this season. Meanwhile, the Warriors’ have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins making superstar money, Draymond Green pulling down just over $24 million, then most of their other players on relatively meager deals.
Assuming the Pacers are uninterested in taking on Green’s long-term deal, that leaves Golden State with only a handful of options for combining salaries to match on one of the big man.
If the Warriors were to package Wiseman and either Looney or Jonathan Kuminga together, though, they get close enough to Turner’s number to make a deal under the CBA. Losing the former No. 2 overall pick would be a bitter pill to swallow, but Turner would be a massive upgrade down low and he’s still only 25 years old.
Furthermore, Wiseman — and, to a lesser extent, Kuminga — is exactly the kind of player the Pacers would want back in a rebuilding scenario.
While Sabonis only makes $2ish million more than Turner, it’s just enough of a difference to make the previous package a no-go. Green and Wiseman for Sabonis and Jeremy Lamb works but, at that point, you’re probably including draft picks and/or other sweeteners to convince the Pacers to take on Draymond’s deal.
And the Warriors may not be keen on unloading Green, who has been resurgent this season.