Where the Indiana Pacers Stand After the Pascal Siakam Trade

By Adam Kerr

A couple of years back, reports said that the Indiana Pacers front office had been dissatisfied with team performance and ticket sales for a while. They decided to trade All-Stars Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis that season along with a solid complimentary piece with Caris LeVert. However, when they traded Sabonis, they got a promising point guard named Tyrese Haliburton.

In making the deal, they knew he would be special, but nobody could have expected the 20-year-old Wisconsin native to be the top-ten superstar he is today. Haliburton is averaging 23 points on 40% shooting from three while leading the NBA in assists per game.

His rapid rise to the upper echelon of basketball talent, along with the elite and successful fast-paced tempo that he and coach Rick Carlisle have established, now have the once-rebuilding team buying at the 2024 deadline. Indiana knew that they were one move away from creating a real championship window, so they took a swing on a star.

On Wednesday, the Pacers traded Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, two 2024 first-round picks, and an additional first to the Toronto Raptors for two-time All-NBA power forward Pascal Siakam. The newly formed duo of Siakam and Haliburton haven’t touched the floor yet, but people are already speculating how seriously they can contend this year. First off, the Pacers look like a talented and deep roster that is poised to make a possible run. This is their current depth chart:

PG: Tyrese Haliburton, T.J. McConnell

SG: Buddy Hield, Benedict Mathurin, Ben Sheppard

SF: Aaron Nesmith

PF: Pascal Siakam, Obi Toppin, Jarace Walker

C: Myles Turner, Isaiah Jackson

Note: This doesn’t account for second-year guard Andrew Nembhard, who is currently injured. 

The addition of a two-way player like Pascal Siakam is huge for a team with the third-worst defense in the league. Indiana couldn’t stop a snail on defense, which is the biggest reason why they are only the sixth seed in the East. Couple the added defensive presence with another 20 ppg scorer on the offensive side of the ball, and Indiana may be one of the most dangerous teams in the conference.

Touching back on offense, the Pacers are the best offense in basketball, and adding that extra presence in the frontcourt can prove to be a massive improvement for the team as the season advances. However, their lack of championship experience (aside from Siakam) is the only reason why they might not be able to go all the way just yet. The rest of the team has little to no experience in the postseason and it may prove to be fatal when that time comes. Of course, the past 75+ years of basketball have proven that anything is possible.

The last important topic of discussion for Indiana here is Siakam’s impending free agency. It has been recorded for over a year now that he doesn’t want to play anywhere except Toronto, the organization that drafted him in 2016, and that he won a championship with in 2019. Now, the big man is being sent to Indiana where he has no choice but to part with the team that he’s been with for over seven years.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that he is excited to be with Indiana, but things can always change. Giving up three first-rounders for a rental is unheard of for a team bordering the play-in, so it is imagined that the Pacers know that they have a great shot at either extending or re-signing him. Even if they cannot make a large amount of noise this year, if they can retain Siakam and bring in more role players, Indiana will be a problem in the East for the foreseeable future.