Tyrese Haliburton

Central Notes: Grant, Pistons, Pacers, Haliburton

After securing the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft and selecting talented guard Cade Cunningham, the Pistons are hoping to have similar lottery luck this year. Detroit’s landing spot in Tuesday’s draft lottery could help add some clarity to the team’s decision on the long-term future of veteran forward Jerami Grant, writes Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press.

The Pistons could opt this offseason to extend Grant, whose deal with the club expires in 2023 after he earns $21MM next season. Should the Pistons find a suitable young replacement candidate in the draft, the team may opt to move on from the 28-year-old forward.

During his second season with the Pistons, Grant missed 35 games with a left calf strain. In his 47 healthy contests, he averaged 19.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.4 APG and 1.0 BPG, with shooting splits of .426/.358/.838.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pistons will have a variety of players to choose from wherever they land within the NBA lottery, writes James Edwards of The Athletic. Edwards takes a look at a handful of mock draft scenarios for Detroit depending on just where that selection ends up. Edwards notes that Purdue guard Jaden Ivey could rocket up the draft board for several clubs, and may be an intriguing top-four candidate for Detroit.
  • The lottery-bound Pacers held their first pre-draft workout of the 2022 offseason Friday at the St. Vincent Center with six young prospects. Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files offers a breakdown of the day, including intriguing tidbits on draft hopefuls Josh Minott, a 6’8″ guard out of Memphis, and Hyunjung Lee, a 6’7″ guard out of Davidson.
  • New Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton hopes to stick around in Indiana for the long haul, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files“I want to be here and I want to be part of it,” the 22-year-old said of his future with the franchise. Agness notes that Haliburton has remained in Indiana, working out consistently, since the team’s season came to an official close. He sat courtside to watch the Indiana Fever defeat the Minnesota Lynx 82-76 earlier this week. The 6’5″ guard averaged 17.5 PPG, 9.6 APG, 4.3 RPG, and 1.8 SPG in his 26 games with Indiana after being dealt by the Kings.

Mavs’ Brunson Continues To Boost Value Ahead Of Free Agency

After enjoying the best year of his NBA career during the 2021/22 regular season, Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson has taken his game to another level so far in the playoffs, averaging 29.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.8 APG on .483/.409/.857 shooting in four games (38.5 MPG). He played a key role in helping Dallas take a 2-1 lead in the series without Luka Doncic before the All-NBA guard returned in Game 4.

According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, pro personnel scouts and executives polled by ESPN believe the floor for Brunson – an unrestricted free agent this summer – is now $20MM per year on his next contract. Some people believe the 25-year-old could get upwards of $25MM annually, MacMahon adds.

For his part, Brunson told ESPN that he isn’t thinking about his next contract with the Mavs engaged in a battle with the Jazz for a spot in the second round of the playoffs.

“Not at all. Not at all. I promise you,” Brunson said. “My dad, we’ll joke about it, but (my family knows) that I don’t want to talk about it until the season’s over. That’s really not going to help me right now. … I know it’s a weird situation. People don’t believe that I don’t talk about it, but it’s not a topic of conversation until I guess we get there.”

Brunson said he has “loved every second” of his time in Dallas, and it seems likely the Mavs will get the first shot at re-signing him. Although Brunson isn’t restricted, Dallas holds his Bird rights and can offer him more years and more money than any other suitor — additionally, team owner Mark Cuban has talked about wanting to lock up the point guard long-term. However, Brunson’s father Rick Brunson suggests the Mavs shouldn’t expect to get a team-friendly rate.

“We’ve got to figure out if Dallas wants him. Not words,” Rick Brunson said, per MacMahon. “Ain’t no discount. So don’t put it on us. Don’t tell me you love me. Show me.”

Here’s more on Brunson:

  • Brunson was eligible for a four-year, $55.6MM in-season extension in 2021/22, but the Mavericks didn’t offer it to him until after the trade deadline, according to MacMahon. By that point, Brunson had decided to wait until the offseason to sign a new deal. “I told him once the season is started, that’s it,” Rick Brunson said. “I told the Mavericks, ‘Once the season is started, there’s no contract talk,’ and I went back against my word. In January, I thought he did enough where he deserved (the extension). I said, ‘Hey, take the money, man.’ He wants security. He wants to live here. And (the Mavs) declined. He didn’t turn s–t down. Y’all declined first. When y’all came back to him (in February), we said, ‘Hey, we just want to finish out the season and go from there.'” Signing Brunson to a long-term extension in January would’ve made him ineligible to be traded this season, so the Mavs may have wanted to keep their options open.
  • The Pistons and Knicks are widely considered to be potential suitors for Brunson, as previous reported have indicated. League sources tell MacMahon that Detroit likes how Brunson fits alongside Doncic and believes he could play a similar role next to Cade Cunningham. Knicks president of basketball operations and former CAA agent Leon Rose, meanwhile, has several ties to the Brunson family — Rick was his first client and he previously represented Jalen. Now, Leon’s son Sam Rose is one of the agents who reps Jalen at CAA.
  • Despite those links to the Knicks, Rick Brunson insists the familial connections won’t be a deciding factor in his son’s free agency. “I’ve made it very clear to Leon, ‘I love you to death. Your son works for Jalen, represents Jalen, but this is about Jalen,'” Rick Brunson said. “… Leon wouldn’t never talk to me again (if Jalen signs elsewhere). The question I have, is it a good fit in New York? We don’t know, because we have to sit down and figure it out (and evaluate the) draft. July 1 is a long way away.”
  • Further complicating matters for the Knicks? League sources tell MacMahon that the Mavericks have no intention of accommodating a sign-and-trade scenario, so any team that wants to sign Brunson will likely need cap space to do so. That shouldn’t be a problem for the Pistons, but the Knicks would have to shed some salary to create cap room.
  • Interestingly, the Knicks had an opportunity to acquire Brunson in 2020, according to MacMahon, who says the Mavs were dangling a package of Brunson, the No. 18 overall pick, and the No. 31 overall pick that year in an effort to trade up for Tyrese Haliburton. Dallas was unable to find a taker, including the Knicks, who used the No. 8 pick that year on Obi Toppin.

Pacers Notes: Offseason, Haliburton, Turner, J. Smith

After a disappointing 25-win season for the Pacers, Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star contends that the team should continue to reshape its roster this offseason, with a focus on building around a core duo of Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner. Doyel thinks that 2021 first-round picks Isaiah Jackson and Chris Duarte should be in the conversation for the starting lineup next season, but shouldn’t be considered locks by any means.

Doyel would also like to see Indiana part with Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield, and not bring back free agent T.J. Warren, who only played four games over the past two seasons (zero in 2021/22) while recovering from consecutive stress fractures in his left foot.

The draft will be key, Doyel notes. The Pacers have a 42.1% chance of landing a top-four pick, and will own the Cavs’ first-round pick if Cleveland beats Atlanta and advances as the No. 8 seed (the Cavs keep the pick otherwise). Indiana also owns a couple of second-round picks from Houston (No. 31) and Phoenix (No. 58).

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • Haliburton said he had a humbling experience as a teenager when he faced off against another future NBA player, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. “I think my biggest one would be Tre Jones from the Spurs,” Haliburton said. “I don’t know if he knows this, but we played each other when I was like 16. He killed me. Oh my God, he killed me. I left that day like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not cut for this. I’m just probably not that good.’ So being able to play against him in the NBA, it’s crazy how it comes full circle.”
  • The offseason will be a big one for Jalen Smith, who will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time, writes Joel Lorenzi of The Indianapolis Star. “This is a huge offseason, and a scary offseason,” Smith said. “Obviously, as a young player, you don’t want to make the wrong decision. … This offseason is gonna come down to a lot of thinking. A lot of late night conversations with my agency, my family, just trying to figure out the right path for me.” The Pacers will be prohibited from offering Smith a starting salary higher than $4.67MM, the amount of his 2022/23 option that was turned down last fall.
  • Boyd and Nat Newell explore the team’s offseason on the “Pacing the Pacers podcast,” per Clark Wade of The Indianapolis Star.

Pacers Notes: Warren, Hield, Haliburton

Pacers forward T.J. Warren, who has already been ruled out for the rest of 2021/22, will also remain away from the team for the remainder of the season, says Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Warren had previously been practicing and playing some 5-on-5 with the Pacers, but is continuing his rehab and preparing for next season on his own.

“T.J. Warren will continue his ramp-up for next season at his home in Raleigh, NC,” the Pacers said in a statement provided to Agness. “He has the full support of the Pacers organization and medical staff.”

Warren, who missed the entire 2021/22 season due to a left foot injury, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so it’s possible he has played his last game for the Pacers.

Here’s more out of Indiana:

  • Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield was one of the NBA’s most one-dimensional players in Sacramento, but has exhibited newfound driving and passing abilities since arriving in Indiana, Louis Zatzman of FiveThirtyEight writes in a breakdown of Hield’s evolving game.
  • Hield is averaging 5.0 assists per game in 16 games with the Pacers after registering 1.9 APG in 55 games with the Kings this season. Indiana has a 117.8 offensive rating when he’s on the court, which would rank first in the NBA. “Different style, different opportunity,” Hield said, per Wheat Hotchkiss of Pacers.com. “I think (head coach) Rick (Carlisle) gave me a better opportunity than (I had in) Sacramento that helps me to show that. When I wanted to (do more with the ball), they just wanted me to be a corner catch-and-shoot guy. So now I’ve been able to show what I can do and just be free and playing basketball happy again.”
  • The Pacers will host the Kings on Wednesday, and while Hield and Tyrese Haliburton are looking forward to seeing some familiar faces, they downplayed the importance of meeting their old team, with Haliburton suggesting he has friends and family who are “behind the narrative” far more than he is. Hotchkiss has the story and the quotes at Pacers.com.
  • In case you missed it, Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic was fined $40K by the NBA following an altercation with a Pacers fan in Indiana on Sunday. The fan allegedly made disparaging remarks about Nurkic’s mother and grandmother. Nurkic’s grandmother passed away of COVID-19 in 2020.

Central Notes: LeVert, Garland, Williams, Caruso, Haliburton, Brogdon

Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert will be out at least a week or two after spraining his right foot during Tuesday’s practice, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer relays.

LeVert underwent an MRI on Wednesday, which confirmed the sprain. All-Star point guard Darius Garland also missed Thursday’s loss at Detroit due to lower back soreness. He’ll undergo a period of treatment and rehabilitation, according to a team press release.

Garland’s injury is muscular and will need to be managed throughout the remainder of the season, according to Fedor.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Patrick Williams is getting closer to returning from wrist surgery but the 2020 lottery pick won’t automatically return to the Bulls’ starting lineup, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Staff-wise, as players get closer and closer to coming back, I think Javonte [Green] has done a really good job with that group in terms of how he’s fit in, what he’s been able to bring to the table in Patrick’s absence,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. “I’m not opposed to bringing Patrick off the bench and I’m not opposed to starting him. I think a lot of it is going to be once he can get back to practice, is there a minutes restriction on him, how many minutes can he play at a time, and what’s the best role for him to help our team?’’
  • Alex Caruso underwent surgery to repair a fractured right wrist on January 24th and had an six-to-eight week reevaluation timeline. The Bulls guard appears to be on schedule, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “We’re hoping by the end of this week, certainly early next week, that he’ll have a ball in his hands and be able to do things,” Donovan said. Williams has begun doing some dribbling and shooting work but Donovan said he needs to strengthen the wrist further before facing live contact.
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle believes the backcourt pairing of Tyrese Haliburton and Malcolm Brogdon will produce big results, Wheat Hotchkiss of Pacers.com writes. “I think they’re perfect compliments to one another,” Carlisle said. “They both have had their share of playing with and without the ball so both positions come naturally to them. I’m looking forward to it. Really with those two guys and their knowledge of the game, feel for the game, I should never have to call a play. “

Central Notes: DeRozan, Haliburton, McConnell, LeBron

Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan considers his latest All-Star appearance, his fifth overall and first since 2018, to be his favorite All-Star selection thus far, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“It’s hard to go against the first time I was here [in 2014 while with the Raptors],” DeRozan said. “But to be here again after everything I went through, it’s sweet.”

DeRozan is in the midst of possibly his best NBA season yet, his 13th in the league. In 55 games for the 38-21 Bulls, the 32-year-old out of USC is averaging 28.1 PPG (his highest scoring average ever, fifth in the NBA this year), 5.2 RPG, and 5.1 APG, with a shooting line of .517/.343/.866.

“Over the span of my career I did a lot of learning, personally, on the court, outside the court,” the 6’6″ Bulls swingman said. “Just trying to understand a lot of dynamics of just being a man first. And a lot of that, looking in the mirror moments and understanding a lot of things is this moment now, of just me being in my complete balance.”

DeRozan also leads the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring with 443 points and counting. Schaefer writes that DeRozan is posting a clutch-time shooting line of .541/.667/.902. The Bulls are currently the second seed in the Eastern Conference, with DeRozan leading the way. He has a strong case to be a top-five MVP candidate this season.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Several current All-Stars heaped praise on new Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, writes James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star. Haliburton, who participated in the All-Star weekend festivities during the Rising Stars contest and the Clutch Challenge this year, hopes to return to a future All-Star weekend for the main event. “That’s the goal,” Haliburton said of playing in the All-Star game. “Don’t know when, but eventually I’ll be back, and I’m looking forward to it.” Bulls All-Star guard Zach LaVine spoke about how Haliburton can benefit from his fresh start in Indiana. “Tyrese is off the charts, and him getting a different opportunity now in Indiana I think is gonna be big for him,” LaVine said. “Obviously getting traded and me being traded young as well [from the Timberwolves to the Bulls], you have to take it one way or another… You’re a little shell-shocked at first, but once you embrace that opportunity and go after it, I think he’s gonna be great.”
  • Pacers backup point guard T.J. McConnell appears likely to miss the rest of of the 2021/22 season, per Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Given the original timeline projected for the 6’1″ veteran’s recovery from a December surgery for a torn scapholunate ligament in his right wrist, this news is not entirely unexpected. McConnell has appeared in just 24 contests this year. McConnell, 29, has averaged 8.7 PPG, 5.0 APG and 1.1 SPG while shooting 50.3% from the field and 80% from the free throw line.
  • Provided that the Cavaliers are able to retain their core of power forward Evan Mobley and All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett AllenJason Lloyd of The Athletic suggests that Cleveland should do its darnedest to add 11-year Cavaliers veteran LeBron James, who would reach free agency in 2023, at age 38, if he doesn’t sign an extension before then. During an active 2022 All-Star weekend in Cleveland, James went out of his way to praise the team-building work of team president Koby Altman“I think Koby and those guys have done an unbelievable job drafting and making trades,” James told Lloyd. “The door’s not closed on [the prospect of James making yet another Cleveland return].” The Cavaliers could conceivably carve out cap space during the 2023 offseason in part by moving off the $17.3MM salary owed forward Lauri Markkanen and perhaps by picking up and then offloading the $8.9MM team option of wing Isaac Okoro.

Central Notes: LaVine, Thompson, Haliburton, Allen, Williams, Smith

The Bulls officially signed veteran center Tristan Thompson on Saturday, adding a former NBA champion to their rotation. Thompson, who is expected to provide depth behind star center Nikola Vucevic, drew praise from new teammate Zach LaVine this weekend.

“He’s going to bring another championship-level guy where he’s been in these games before,” LaVine said, as relayed by Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune. “He can help us in these situations.”

Chicago is tied with Miami for the best record in the East at 38-21. The team won its final five games entering the All-Star break and has added Vucevic, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and others over the last calendar year.

“With AK [Arturas Karnisovas] and Marc [Eversley], obviously, they’re going for it,” LaVine said of the Bulls’ front office. “They trust in me, they trust in DeMar, they trust in this group, and it just means a lot going into the last year of my contract that they’re putting a team around us that can compete.’’

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton finally enjoyed his Rising Stars moment on Friday, Scott Agness of FieldHouse Files examines. The 21-year-old was acquired by Indiana before this season’s trade deadline. In four games, he’s averaged 20.8 points and 11.0 assists per contest.
  • Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen has enjoyed every moment of All-Star Weekend, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic writes. Allen is a major reason why Cleveland owns the fourth-best record in the East at 35-23. This is his first All-Star appearance. “It’s still a lot to take in,” Allen said. “I don’t think I’ve fully grasped the moment that I’m in. I’m part of the top 24 players in the NBA at this All-Star Weekend, so I’m just excited, I’m ready to take it all in and just absorb every moment. It’s been a one-of-a-kind weekend that I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
  • Suns head coach Monty Williams is happy to see Jalen Smith get a new opportunity with the Pacers, as relayed by James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). Smith was traded from Phoenix to Indiana earlier this month. “I’m happy for him,” Williams said as part of a larger quote. “He’s a guy that worked his tail off every single day with us. He just couldn’t crack the rotation.” Smith has appeared in four games with the Pacers, averaging 12.0 points and 6.3 rebounds in 21 minutes per contest.

Central Notes: Haliburton, Bagley, Robinson, LaVine

Getting traded so early in his career was an emotional experience for new Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, as he wrote in a Players Tribune post. He was caught by surprise when his agent informed him he might be traded and “started crying my eyes out” when Kings GM Monte McNair told the second-year guard he’d been dealt to Indiana.

After reflection, Haliburton felt much more comfortable about the deal.

“More than anything, though, right now it really does just feel good to be wanted,” he wrote. “And I can’t thank the Pacers enough for their belief in me. I’m humbled to have been traded for an All-Star player like Domantas (Sabonis), and I fully understand that this team wouldn’t trade away a player like him for someone to just come in and be so-so.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The addition of Marvin Bagley III was coupled with an admission from Pistons GM Troy Weaver that he made a mistake while building the roster, The Athletic’s James Edwards III notes. Detroit has been sorely lacking in an athletic big to give the rotation a different look than Isaiah Stewart and Kelly Olynyk while providing a lob threat for guards Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes. In Edwards’ estimation, it was worth a roll of the dice to bring in Bagley this season, even at the expense of two second-round picks, because he’s the best player in the Kings-Pistons portion of the four-team trade and Detroit got even younger.
  • The Bulls were among the teams interested in trading for Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson prior to the deadline, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. The Bulls viewed Robinson as a defensive center to back up offensively-skilled Nikola Vucevic for an extended playoff run, Berman adds. The Pistons were also among the teams who inquired about Robinson.
  • The Bulls didn’t make a significant move before the deadline and that’s fine with Zach LaVine, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “They’re going to go out there and try to improve the team any way they can, you can’t get mad at that,” LaVine said. “It’s our job to come out here with the guys that we have, and when we were healthy, we were showing that we were always at the top and one of the best teams in the NBA. I think that’s what we’re hanging our hat on. When we get healthy, we’ll get back to what we do.” That’s a big if, now that LaVine is getting his ailing left knee re-examined this week.

Kings Notes: McNair, Fox, Sabonis, Haliburton, DiVincenzo

Kings team president Monte McNair is confident that new addition Domantas Sabonis will fit well alongside pricey star point guard De’Aaron Fox, per Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee (via Twitter).

“We think [Sabonis’] skillset complements De’Aaron,” McNair said. “De’Aaron’s skillset complements him. And Domas’ skillset complements just about everybody.”

McNair discussed his decision to move promising young guard Tyrese Haliburton to the Pacers in a package for Sabonis, writes Anderson in a separate story.

“This was a unique opportunity to acquire a two-time All-Star and two veteran wings [in Justin Holiday and Jeremy Lamb], all [of] whom will help us, as we continue to build here in Sacramento,” McNair said.

Sacramento, which has not made an NBA postseason since 2006, is hoping that its new-look roster can at least lead it to the play-in tournament. The team’s current 22-36 record positions it just 1.5 games behind the current No. 10 seed, the Trail Blazers, with plenty of time to catch up.

There’s more out of Sacramento:

  • Domantas Sabonis is enjoying his tenure with the Kings thus far, writes Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. In two contests with his new club, both wins, the 6’11” power forward/center is averaging 19.0 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 6.0 APG. “Since the second I made it to the NBA, I figured out the hard way it’s a business,” the two-time All-Star said after his first game. “I got traded on draft night, and then a year later, I got traded again. I’m just trying to find a home where I’m loved … and I feel like I found it here. I love it here.”
  • Not everyone is excited about the Kings’ decision to move on from an exciting young prospect like Tyrese Haliburton. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic tries to make sense of the Kings’ choice to trade the 6’5″ guard, who had been Sacramento’s top performer this year, to Indiana. Vecenie pegs the 21-year-old Haliburton as a future All-Star, one capable of doing well with or without the ball in his hands. Vecenie acknowledges that the pairing of Sabonis and Fox could help the team in theory, though Fox has regressed so far this season and Sabonis could reach free agency in 2024. As a second-year NBA player, Haliburton could have been under team control for significantly longer.
  • New Kings shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo is relishing his opportunity in Sacramento, writes Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. The Kings initially tried to land DiVincenzo in the scuttled sign-and-trade deal for Bogdan Bogdanovic at the start of the 2020/21 season, then finally got their man as part of a four-team deadline day trade. “It was meant to be,” DiVincenzo said. “That mutual respect and wanting to be here and them wanting me here, it’s a super good feeling and it makes you want to go out and play as hard as you can for not only the team, but also the organization.” Though DiVincenzo has had a down year after returning from a June left ankle surgery, the Kings are hopeful that he can return to being the solid two-way contributor he was with for Bucks during much of the 2020/21 season. “I think he’s a very versatile defender,” Kings interim head coach Alvin Gentry said. “We can play him on ones, twos, threes. I think he does a good job of getting into the ball. I think he understands rotations and things like that. “

Kevin Pritchard: “We Had One Player Targeted”

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard believes Tyrese Haliburton is a player worth building around for the next decade, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star.

We have a point guard of our future, and if you have been in this position for a long time, getting a point guard that is young, with upside and you feel like you can build around for the next 10 years, those don’t come around very often,” Pritchard said before Friday’s game. “Tyrese is that guy.”

Coach Rick Carlisle concurred, calling Haliburton a “franchise-caliber point guard.”

Haliburton, Buddy Hield, and Tristan Thompson were traded to Indiana on Tuesday in a deal that sent Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, and a 2023 second-round pick to Sacramento.

Haliburton had a nice debut in Indiana’s 120-113 loss to Cleveland Friday night, putting up 23 points, three rebounds, six assists and three steals on 9-15 shooting in 40 minutes. However, he was unhappy with an uncharacteristic six turnovers.

I hate turning the ball over,” Haliburton, “Me and (Rajon) Rondo were actually talking about it during the game, but I hate that so I’m just gonna try to do everything I can to get it back after.”

When asked how the Pacers were able to acquire a player many around the league thought was untouchable, Pritchard said they had one player targeted, and they were aggressive in pursuing him, Boyd writes.

I will say this: We had one player targeted, and we were able to get him,” Pritchard said. “That included knocking on the door a lot. I think we were the aggressors, and we felt like that player was something that could change an organization or at least reinvigorate it.”

In addition to the deal with the Kings, the Pacers also made a couple other trades that brought in draft capital. Pritchard was asked by reporter Olivia Ray of Wish-TV (video link from Boyd of The Star) if the upcoming 2022 draft was one of the more important ones in franchise history.

Without a doubt. 100 percent. And we are dialed in from yesterday and doing our research, I believe that this is the first time, potentially, that this organization has been in the top 10. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We don’t know where we’re going to be. What this does is, no matter where our pick is, maybe we have the draft capital to get to where we want, if that’s the case.

Maybe we like the pick we get and we don’t have to use it [additional picks]. But this allowed us to get really flexible in the draft and that’s where I really have wanted, and have enjoyed. Last year, moving up and sneaking in there and getting Isaiah Jackson was something that really came to be about and we were very lucky that that happened because we feel great about him right now, and his upside,” Pritchard said.