Folks, after a month-plus of actual basketball (what a delight!) the trade rumor mill is creaking back to life as we learn which teams are good, which teams are not, and which teams are ready to hit the nuclear option.
And the Indiana Pacers are apparently ready to blow it up.
The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Tuesday that the Pacers are "expected to open up trade conversations around some of their veteran stalwarts" as they realize they aren't very good.
More specifically from Charania:
"Multiple sources said that the Pacers are receptive in trade dialogue with rival teams centered on potentially moving guard Caris LeVert and either two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis or center Myles Turner. All three players have frequently garnered significant interest from rival teams."
That makes sense. The Pacers (10-16) are six games below .500, have never been good enough to actually contend, and need retooling. It's time.
What does this mean for the Washington Wizards? If the Pacers trade away their best players, that would obviously help the Wizards (14-11) secure a playoff spot in the East. They could also look into acquiring one or more of the available Indiana players in an effort to raise their ceiling as a contender in the East.
However, another Eastern Conference could pry away one of Indiana's trade deadline chips and solidify their chances as contenders come springtime.
The Philadelphia 76ers are one such team. Philadelphia (13-11) is still saddled with the absent Ben Simmons and are looking to get a great deal better as the season goes on.
There probably isn't a two-team swap that would make sense for the Sixers, but this certainly makes Indiana much more interesting in a potential three-team swap, which always seemed like a more likely (if also much more circuitous) route to the Sixers landing a superstar in return for Simmons.
How much money does Domantas Sabonis make?
Sabonis counts for $19.8 million against the cap this year, while Turner counts for $18 million and LeVert counts for $17.5 million. Sabonis is under contract until the summer of 2024, while Turner and LeVert are set to hit unrestricted free agency in 2023.
After trading Russell Westbrook to the Lakers for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma, the Wizards have multiple mid-level contracts to offer in a potential player swap with Indiana.
Will Ben Simmons be traded to Indiana?
The Sacramento Kings have been rumored as a possible team, like Indiana, that might be willing to make a star-studded deal before the 2022 NBA trade deadline.
Would the Kings be open to trading De'Aaron Fox after realizing their point guard logjam isn't working?
Maybe with the inclusion of Pacers pieces, the Portland Trail Blazers can be cajoled into sending a more favorable package than C.J. McCollum and picks to the Sixers -- that is, if they believe it really is time to blow their own operation up, which it seems is more "when" than "if" at this point.