The Indiana Pacers badly need to shake things up this offseason. They’ve got millions in cap space, millions more under the luxury tax, plenty of expiring contracts, and one superstar whose injury sealed their fate fully three months before the Boston Celtics finally made it official and swept the Pacers out of the playoffs.
Now, the Pacers could go the sensible route. They could ride with Victor Oladipo, re-sign Thaddeus Young (the glue that holds the team together) and Bojan Bogdanovic, fire Nate McMillan and bring in a legitimate head coach who can actually run a modern NBA offense, and then go hunting to find players to fit a system, surrounding Oladipo with shooters so he and Myles Turner can, between them, be a sort of poor man’s two-headed Giannis Antetokounmpo, using a combination of spacing and a drive-and-kick game to become the best version of themselves.
Heck, I’d even settle for fitting an electrified collar around McMillan’s neck and having an assistant whose job it is to press the button and shock Nate every time a Pacers player takes a two-point shot more than 16 feet from the basket—Indiana was second in such shots behind only the San Antonio Spurs this season while unsurprisingly ranking 29th in 3-point attempt rate ahead of, you guessed it, the “Gregg Popovich Has Scott-Hollins Syndrome” Spurs.
(and for the record, eight of the top 10 teams in 3PAR made the playoffs; only three of the bottom 10 did, the Pacers, Spurs, and Clippers, and only San Antonio has a chance in hell of getting out of the first round.)
But what if the Pacers made a big, bold, change-of-scenery move?
What if the Pacers traded Victor Oladipo for Bradley Beal?
After all, the salaries line up reasonably well (Oladipo makes $21 million a year over the next three, Beal makes a rising scale between $25.7 and $28.75 million over the next three; Indiana would have to throw someone in to make the salaries match, but the trade would be doable without too much gimcrackery involved)
But maybe Beal needs a change of scenery, and maybe Washington needs to shed a bit of cap space (although they still have the massive albatross that is John Wall) and possibly drag out Oladipo’s comeback year in order to tank the 2019-20 season, but let’s look at why this trade both does and doesn’t work for both sides.
Why Indiana Does It
Losing Oladipo to what has been a career-ending injury—a torn quadriceps tendon—for other players (it’s what ended Charles Barkley‘s career) might just mean the Pacers want someone who will play 82 games for them, and while Beal had some injury woes early in his career, he’s played 164 games in the past two seasons.
Beal is 25; Oladipo is 26 and turns 27 in less than three weeks.
Beal has a career PER of 17.1, has established himself as a legitimate All-Star, and posted 6.4 VORP in the past two seasons.
Oladipo has a career PER of 16.7, has established himself as a legitimate All-Star, and posted 5.8 VORP in the past season and a half.
It just seems like Beal has the same ceiling if possibly a bit higher, and Beal has better health. If Washington offers Beal for Oladipo, don’t you pull the trigger?
Why Washington Does It
Wait, Kevin Pritchard, you want to trade us an elite defender for a guy who can’t guard the dead guy from Weekend at Bernie’s, let $18 million off our cap over the next three years, and give us a guy we’ll have an easy out on if he’s physically unable to perform after he comes back from his injury but who has an All-Star ceiling if he comes back 100 percent?
And oh by the way, you’re trading us a guy who’s Mr. Clutch and shoots better than his career averages when the game matters most late in the fourth quarter? A guy the Celtics would’ve had in their nightmares if he’d been healthy for Round 1 of the playoffs? A glue guy who is the heart and soul of his team’s culture and beloved by fans?
We love our guy, but red rover, red rover, send Victor right over!
Is This Realistic?
Of course not. It’s “go home, Fox, you’re drunk” or possibly “just how much evergreen traffic are you trying to snooker Google and Pacers Twitter out of, you clickbait monster?”
Hey. Writer gotta eat.
But would I be disappointed if the Pacers traded Oladipo for Beal? Hell no! I’d be thrilled!
Would I be disappointed if the Wizards offered Beal for Oladipo and the Pacers said no? Probably also hell no, because I love watching Victor in the fourth quarter as much as every other Pacers fan and with all the rumors circulating around getting Kemba Walker (who I will grit my teeth watching because I can’t stand the guy), I want a guy who can step up in the clutch and not blow a bunch of games!
The point is this isn’t as far-fetched as it at first appears.