NBA Rumor Analysis: ‘Indiana Pacers Want To Acquire Kevin Durant To Partner With Paul George Next Year?’
The Parent Herald generated a rumor about the Indiana Pacers wanting to acquire Kevin Durant to try and pair him with Paul George. This rumor has indeed made its rounds on the internet. The article structures the rumor as a trade rumor and implies that the Pacers could make a deal for Durant during the upcoming regular season. However, that is simply not a reality at all. The Pacers simply do not have enough assets to entice the Golden State Warriors into accepting any trade sending Durant to Indiana.
“Meanwhile, Indiana Pacers have enough room to sign Kevin Durant. It will cost the team much and they might trade some of their key players including Paul George. Reports have it that Pacers will not be trading George unless it’s for Durant. However, per the report, having Durant and George play together will be a huge advantage to the team.”
Kevin Durant is an undisputed top five player in the NBA. According to Basketball-Reference, Durant averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, five assists, one steal, 1.2 blocks, and 3.5 turnovers during the 2015-16 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant was incredibly efficient as he shot 50.5 percent from the field, 38.7 percent on 3-point field goals, 56.9 percent on 2-point field goals, and 89.8 percent on free throws.
To acquire a player of Kevin Durant’s caliber, it would require a package centered around Paul George. That doesn’t make the Pacers a better team since they would have to include other assets around George. Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense for the Pacers to try and trade for Durant during the regular season if it wouldn’t improve their chances of winning the NBA Finals. The only way that the Indiana Pacers would want to acquire Kevin Durant is if they could pair him with Paul George on their perimeter to solidify themselves as a championship-caliber team.
The only way that the Indiana Pacers could acquire Kevin Durant would be in free agency next summer. According to Basketball Insiders, the Indiana Pacers have nearly $77.8 million in salary and around $55.7 million in guaranteed salary for the 2017-18 season. They have up to $26.5 million in projected cap space for the 2017-18 season, which includes all of their forms of potential compensation and it would not be enough to sign Durant. According to ESPN, a max contract for Kevin Durant is worth $33.5 million for the 2017-18 season.
Per Basketball Insiders, Rodney Stuckey ($7,000,000 million) and C.J. Miles ($4,772,675 million) both have player options after this season. Kevin Seraphin ($1,881,000 million), Joseph Young ($1,097,658 million), Rakeem Christmas ($1,097,658 million), Glenn Robinson ($1,090,500 million), and Georges Niang ($905,249) all have unguaranteed salaries for the 2017-18 season. Lavoy Allen ($4,000,000) and Myles Turner ($2,569,920) have team options after this season. All of those salaries have the possibility of being terminated, whether by the player in the situations of Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles or by the team in the cases of the other players.
It would not make sense for the Pacers to decline the team option for Myles Turner since he appears to be a star in the making. Also, it would be ideal to keep talented prospects like Joseph Young and Glenn Robinson III since they are cheap, can contribute to the team, and can maintain financial flexibility for the organization. It is likely that Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles will decline their player options so they can test the open market in free agency. If Indiana managed only to retain Turner, Young, and Robinson III, they would have $60,410,205 in salary, per Basketball Insiders.
According to Basketball Insiders, the projected salary cap is around $102 million for the 2017-18 season. The Pacers would have an estimated $41,589,795 in salary cap space if they were to only retain Myles Turner, Joseph Young, and Glenn Robinson III, meaning that they could theoretically sign Kevin Durant to a max contract. However, they would have to make some more cap space to be able to re-sign Jeff Teague, which is certainly something that they would ideally do since the point guard position is crucial for team success.
After signing Kevin Durant to a max contract and after retaining Myles Turner, Joseph Young, and Glenn Robinson III, the Indiana Pacers would have an estimated $8,089,795 in salary cap space, according to Basketball Insiders. The Pacers would not have sufficient cap space to re-sign Jeff Teague in this scenario. Indiana may have to trade either Monta Ellis or Al Jefferson to re-sign Jeff Teague and to sign Kevin Durant. Since the Pacers will have been developing Joseph Young for a few seasons, it would be easier to part ways with Monta Ellis than it would be to part ways with Al Jefferson. Ellis is owed $11,227,000 for the 2017-18 season, if Indiana managed to trade him in a salary dump style trade, they could have nearly $19 million in cap space. At that point, Indiana may have enough to re-sign Teague if he values staying in his hometown over going to the highest bidder.
Remember, the Indiana Pacers still have their first round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and it appears to be a talented class. Paul George would have to switch to the shooting guard position to make room for Kevin Durant in the team’s starting lineup. If the Pacers successfully executed this scenario, they could have a lineup of Jeff Teague, Paul George, Kevin Durant, Thaddeus Young, and Myles Turner. As for their bench, it could be Joseph Young, Glenn Robinson III, and Al Jefferson, and the team would need to draft a power forward or a combo positional small forward/power forward with their first round pick. This plan is incredibly unlikely and would be full of risk since there is no guarantee that Kevin Durant would even sign with the Indiana Pacers, and they would have to part ways with crucial components of their roster.
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