HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto and Pacers beat reporter Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files report the latest intel on Myles Turner and Buddy Hield trade talks, Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin and Jalen Smith on the latest HoopsHype podcast episode.
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:43 Myles Turner trade talks and free agency
Scotto: When the Pacers were in town for a few days for consecutive games against the Nets in Brooklyn, before the first matchup, Pacers executives Kevin Pritchard, Chad Buchanan and Happy Walters spoke with Nets GM Sean Marks.
Agness: Right now, the first month of the season is really good for executives to travel with the team and get a feel for what they did in the offseason, what things look like, and how guys are meshing.
Scotto: He’s 26, and by the time he hits free agency, he’ll be 27. He’s still young enough that he could be a part of a rebuild and be in his prime. What’s interesting here is a couple of things.
I think the Pacers showed their hand a little bit when they offered Deandre Ayton a max offer sheet. Myles Turner was going into the season at that point as the starting five, and it was going to be his opportunity with Domantas Sabonis gone. He was coming back healthy and expressed optimism and a strong desire to play with Tyrese Haliburton, who, in his opinion, is the best passing point guard and playmaker he’s played with in his career at the position.
There’s a belief around the league looking ahead that Turner and his team will seek over $20 million annually in free agency as an unrestricted free agent. Previously, there were rumblings about a potential Malcolm Brogdon type of extension around those numbers (two years, $45 million). Those extension talks were previously (discussed), not anything recently, to be clear.
Agness: It was very likely, in my opinion, that he was going to get traded at the deadline and not Sabonis, but he suffered that stress reaction in mid-January. He didn’t play the rest of the year.
They didn’t want to move on from Sabonis, but a deal opened up where they could get Haliburton, so they went for it. Ayton is a different level and talent at center. They were trying to take advantage of Phoenix’s poor management. They’re sitting there waiting and weren’t giving Ayton a guy like that who’d generally would get a max extension going into his final year and not getting to restricted free agency. The Pacers pivoted in the summer and said let’s go all in on Ayton. They met with him a couple of times.
If you’re Myles, I think you’re ideally getting $20-25 million annually, and you’re on a contending team. Something that was reiterated in several interviews is he wants some notoriety not just for his team but also individually. That’s something that’s really bothered him over the last three to four years. He’s piling up blocks when he does stay on the court. When he does, he’s not even in the conversation nationally about Defensive Player of the Year or an All-Defensive Team. That really irks him to the point where one of his sponsors, Mountain Dew, is promoting him rather than the team.
Scotto: I’m sure he felt a certain way when they made the offer sheet to Ayton. Some executives I’ve spoken to think that he can earn up to that $20 million annually. Some compare him in the Clint Capela range ($21 million next season).
16:10 Buddy Hield trade talks
Scotto: Every time the Lakers lose, three names come up trending on NBA Twitter: Myles Turner, Buddy Hield and Rob Pelinka. Hield’s been off to a hot start. What’s the latest you’re hearing on the trade market? Obviously, he’s been connected to the Lakers like a magnet on a refrigerator. Are there any other teams circling the wagon on Hield?
Agness: I haven’t heard anything anytime soon. I don’t expect any deals to get done of significance in the next month… Another guy that should be in that conversation eventually will be Daniel Theis, who hasn’t played for the Pacers.
(Buddy) has another year under contract, so you don’t have to be in an immediate hurry to trade him. However, what you have is a logjam in the backcourt with Haliburton, Mathurin, Chris Duarte, and Andrew Nembhard. Hield turns 30 next month. It’s, like Myles, more likely than not, he finishes the season elsewhere. The Lakers are the most obvious destination. If I’m the Pacers, I’m holding firm and not giving in, considering the Lakers’ tampering they were fined for with Paul George. People forget that. Maybe it’s petty, but as a small market team, why would you want to help a big market team like the Lakers, who get what they want more often than not?
20:17 Tyrese Haliburton
Scotto: In our NBA executives top breakout player poll just missed the number one spot behind Tyrese Maxey. In talking with Rick Carlisle before the game, I asked him what he thought of Tyrese Haliburton’s potential and his ceiling. Carlisle replied, “I believe Tyrese has a very high ceiling. I believe being a future All-Star is definitely in the mix. He’s got the kind of game that’s fun to watch. You love the joy, the vibe, and the skill. He’s an artist. His shot is a little different. He’s a very effective player, and he’s been very efficient.”
What’s been the vibe in Indiana on giving up Sabonis to get this young man?
Agness: The eagerness and excitement to watch this team, I can’t remember the last time it’s been this high… I think he’s the best true point guard this franchise has had since Jamaal Tinsley… While nobody wanted to necessarily see Sabonis go and his contributions as a two-time All-Star, how he plays hard, and never misses games, Tyrese has breathed some fresh oxygen into this franchise.
24:15 Bennedict Mathurin
Scotto: Anytime I talk with the Pacers, it seems like they have this sense that they have their backcourt of the future in Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin. I’d co-sign that. Mathurin has looked great to start the year. He and Paolo Banchero are among the early Rookie of the Year favorites. When you talk about early Sixth Man of the Year candidates, Mathurin is in that conversation, and Christian Wood, who I interviewed recently on HoopsHype.
Agness: I think they view him as a potential franchise-changing talent. An All-Star is absolutely in the conversation. What about All-NBA? We’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves, but he’s easily outperformed early expectations.
26:30 Jalen Smith
Scotto: In talking with Rick Carlisle, he mentioned a couple of things. He said Jalen Smith decided to stay with the Pacers when there were other offers that were more lucrative financially, but he felt major love from the fans, the coaching staff, and management. Defensively, he’s got a high ceiling with what he can do defending the perimeter, and they know he can guard the rim and block shots. Carlisle called him an “important part of our future” as well.
Agness: The most interesting thing to me was how they originally agreed to a two-year deal, but then it became a three-year deal with a player option and a trade kicker. It was highly unlikely for Jalen to return… The Pacers promised him a starting spot, whereas he didn’t have that with the Phoenix Suns and wasn’t really appreciated. Smith felt that and came to a situation where he was prioritized. Carlisle flew out to Maryland and met with him and sat down for dinner with his parents… He’s playing the long game and committed to a franchise that’s committed to him. The Pacers pulled off an incredible haul to re-sign him to the value they were limited to because the Suns didn’t pick up his rookie-scale option.