The Pacers were active on and before draft night, making a pair of trades that involved their 2023 draft picks. They also discussed several more potential deals that they couldn’t get across the finish line, as Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star relays.
General manager Chad Buchanan told reporters that Indiana tried to use a future first-round pick to move up from both No. 7 and No. 26, but didn’t have any luck. According to Buchanan, the Pacers wanted to get into the top 20 from No. 26 — he added that “the player we were chasing was who everybody else was chasing,” which may have been a reference to Cam Whitmore, who slid to No. 20.
“We tried very hard from 10 until about 20,” said Buchanan. “Using the future pick that we’d gotten. Using 26. Using the other picks that we’d received. We had a player we were trying to get and just couldn’t get anybody to budge. Everybody liked where they were at. They wanted to hang on to their pick and their price was just too exorbitant for us. We tried in that range from 10 to 20.”
In the days leading up to the draft, the Pacers were connected in trade rumors to a handful of NBA wings, including OG Anunoby, De’Andre Hunter, Jonathan Kuminga, and Tobias Harris. Buchanan didn’t confirm specifically that those players were targets, but did say the team explored adding a veteran, ultimately deciding that the short-term gain might not outweigh the long-term implications of such a move.
“(We considered) opportunities that were veteran wings out there that were potentials for us that probably gave us four to five more wins next year, but probably limited us in the long run, limited our ceiling. We had to weigh that, is that really worth sacrificing keeping our powder dry?” Buchanan said, per Dopirak.
“Some of the opportunities we had were guys that had one year left on their contract. Does it make sense to give up the seventh pick in the draft for a guy who may walk after one year? That’s very, very risky in our business. (No. 8 pick) Jarace (Walker) was a guy we had targeted. He was a guy that we wanted. You weigh all that, and this is the guy that we’ll have for a long, long time and we’ll build him and develop him into the piece that the players that were offered to us are now today.”
Here’s more from around the Central:
- The Pacers don’t intend to sign No. 47 pick Mojave King right away. The plan is for King to become a draft-and-stash prospect, as reported by iPacers.com and confirmed by Dopirak (Twitter links). King, a member of the G League Ignite in 2022/23, is a new New Zealand native who previously spent several seasons in Australia’s National Basketball League.
- Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times hears that the Bulls discussed Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan with “multiple” teams leading up to the draft, but he describes those talks as mere due diligence rather than anything substantial.
- Kentucky’s Chris Livingston likely had no problem being the final player picked in the 2023 draft — it sounds like his camp intentionally steered him to the Bucks at No. 58. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), Livingston’s agent Rich Paul was calling teams picking earlier in the second round during the draft to ask them not to draft his client.
- The Bucks view Livingston and Andre Jackson Jr. as players with length, energy, and defensive versatility who will fit the style of new head coach Adrian Griffin, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’re not trying to build a roster like we have in the past — he’s a different coach, we’re going to have a different system,” general manager Jon Horst said on Friday. “There are core, non-negotiable things we’re always going to care about and he’s very aligned in those things. But we also weigh on his opinions, use his opinions in trying to build this out.“