Weiss is a Celtics beat writer and his update on Oladipo and Turner is buried within a piece about Boston’s future and upcoming roster decisions. However, J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star confirms Weiss’ intel, tweeting that – based on conversations he has had – Oladipo and Turner are the two Pacers most likely to be moved before the 2020/21 season begins.
There has been some smoke on the Oladipo front for several months now. A report in the spring indicated that opposing teams were monitoring his situation in Indiana as he prepared to enter a contract year in 2020/21. A series of subsequent stories in July named the Heat as a probable suitor and indicated that the two-time All-Star intends to reach free agency in 2021 rather than signing an early extension with the Pacers.
An Indianapolis Star report at that time suggested that Oladipo’s top two priorities in free agency will be maximizing his earnings and putting himself in position to win championships. Whichever team holds Oladipo’s Bird rights when he reaches free agency will have the ability to offer him the most money and years, so if he’s not confident in the Pacers’ ability to compete for titles over the next several years, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him start pushing for a deal to a preferred destination.
Following the Pacers’ elimination from the postseason in August, Oladipo didn’t suggest in his public comments that he was seeking an exit ramp out of Indiana, but he also didn’t strongly commit to the franchise. His situation will be worth watching closely going forward, especially since the Pacers showed in 2017 with Paul George that they’re not afraid to trade a disgruntled star a year ahead of his free agency.
As for Turner, he has been the subject of trade rumors in the past, since there have long been questions about his positional overlap with fellow big man Domantas Sabonis. Both players are on reasonably team-friendly deals, with Turner locked up through 2023 and Sabonis under contract through 2024. However, Sabonis may have emerged as the Pacers’ preferred long-term building block in 2019/20, as he earned an All-Star berth for the first time.
Indiana has long denied that it wants to break up the Turner/Sabonis frontcourt duo, but many executives around the NBA remain convinced it will happen at some point, and T.J. Warren‘s success as the team’s de facto power forward this summer will only fuel those trade rumors. Moving Turner could help the Pacers acquire a player – or player(s) – who would fit better with their core.