Pacers News: Okafor, Lopez Trade Rumors, Indiana Not Shopping Paul George

The current Eastern Conference sixth-seed Indiana Pacers are hanging by a thread when it comes to their hold of their above.500 record, with the team just a lone game past the breakeven point. And, dropping six games in a row is not helping their cause.

Not when a Chicago Bulls team that has won its last two games is just a single game behind. And, not to mention, the Detroit Pistons looming in the rear view, with surging teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat inching closer for one of those coveted playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the last three of which is still very much up for grabs, especially with about 25 more games left to play for each team before the regular season wraps up.

Previous news reports headlined a disgruntled Paul George amid Indiana Pacers’ woes earlier in the season. And, Pacers Team President Larry Bird knows he has to appease Indiana’s franchise player if he hopes of ever convincing him to stay. George can opt out and test free agency in 2018, and you know there’s not going to be a short supply of suitors.

Citing the latest ESPN news report re Indiana Pacers’ trade deadline activities, the team is trying to make a potential buy to help bolster the wing position as well as the frontcourt rotation. The Pacers are hoping to solve the latter and are looking into the direction of Philadelphia 76ers big man Jahlil Okafor.

Jahlil Okafor Works His Way To The Basket Against Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner.
Indiana Pacers Have expressed Interest Over Sixers' Jahlil Okafor [Image By Andy Lyons/Getty Images]

It’s no secret that the Sixers are open to trading one of their bigs not named Joel Embiid. And, with Okafor constantly falling out of the rotation, you get the idea that the Sixers’ sophomore center could soon be sent packing.

Jahlil Okafor, a 21-year-old center out of Duke, is shooting a little over 50 percent from the field and has posted decent numbers of 11.4 points, close to five rebounds, and about one block a game. The Sixers, though, may have deemed that a defensive-minded Nerlens Noel and an offensively-inclined Joel Embiid pairing is the best option for the team moving forward.

The ESPN news article has failed to confirm the extent of how serious the talks have been between the two camps. It did, however, mention that the Pacers let the other teams know that they are open to part ways with their 2017 first-round pick.

Another trade target for the Indiana Pacers is Brooklyn Nets prized center Brook Lopez, as per NBA reporter Peter Vecsey.

Clearly, the Indiana Pacers are out to lure another big man who can provide additional scoring threat. Okafor and Lopez are offensively skilled centers, but both have failed to establish that they can be a reliable defender in the paint and a big-time rebounder. And, whether they can really complement Indiana Pacers rising star Myles Turner is another question altogether.

Indiana Pacers Forward Paul George Joins Team Practice For The 2017 NBA All-Star Game.
Paul George of the Indiana Pacers at the 2017 NBA All-Star Game [Image By Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]

Paul George’s impending free agency is not until about one and a half years from now. Is Larry Bird really pressed for time to deliver for his superstar whose discontent could grow by the day as losing continues and the much-needed roster upgrade not happening? Or would it be better to wait it out a little longer until the 2017 free agency and NBA draft?

One thing is for sure, the Indiana Pacers exec is bent on resigning George and the current core including Turner and Jeff Teague. And, Bird has the unenviable task of figuring out how to go about building an Indiana Pacers team that could compete for championships, and convincing Paul George that re-upping isn’t so bad an idea after all.