With the Houston Rockets in desperate need of a big man, the Indiana Pacers could come in handy, and especially if they wind up bringing Mike D’Antoni on board.
It’s no secret that the Houston Rockets are deprived of size, as they became notorious for employing the small ball scheme, which sacrificed size for length and the ability to space the floor. The Rockets traded up-and-coming center Clint Capela, who at 25-years-old is under contract through 2023.
Former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni was comfortable with operating under the microball strategy, which led to the Rockets parting ways with developmental big man Isaiah Hartenstein, as Harty simply wasn’t getting any playing time. But D’Antoni is no longer with the Rockets, as he opted to part with the franchise, against Rockets GM Daryl Morey and James Harden’s wishes.
The Rockets are not only looking for a new coach, but are also in need of a big man, as they learned during the 2020 NBA playoffs that they’ll need a legitimate big man, who can hit the 3-point shot, while also being capable of protecting the rim and crashing the glass. The challenge is that the Rockets are limited financially, meaning they’ll be forced to trade away some of their assets, in order to make room for something they desperately need.
Enter Myles Turner, who is a 24-year-old rising star, and is under contract through 2023. Turner has a career scoring average of 12.7 points, and even averaged 14.5 points during the 2016-17 season, which was a career-high.
Turner has never averaged more than 11 shots per game during his five-year stint with the Indiana Pacers. Turner is a career 35.7 percent 3-point shooter, and made 38.8 percent of his threes during the 2018-19 season, which was only a year ago.
Turner also averages two blocks per game, and led the league in blocks during the 2018-19 season with 2.7, proving he’s more than capable of being a legitimate rim protector.
How the Houston Rockets can land Turner
The Pacers are undergoing a rebuild of sorts, as they decided to part with Nate McMillan, who led the Pacers to the playoffs in each of his four seasons in Indiana. The Pacers consistently faced injuries, yet never finish worst than the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference in each of the past three years.
Following the Pacers’ decision to part with McMillan, word leaked that Turner and Victor Oladipo weren’t interested in remaining with the Pacers long-term. The Pacers have reportedly been all in on former Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni as McMillan’s replacement, and after missing out on the Philadelphia 76ers job to Doc Rivers, D’Antoni’s only option is Indiana, as the remaining vacancies haven’t been linked to the former Coach of the Year.
This means D’Antoni’s only other option is the Pacers, and his hire would eliminate the need for Turner (and essentially any other big man). It’s been reported that D’Antoni would want to bring in several of his former players, and Eric Gordon seems to be Exhibit A, as it pertains to getting a deal constructed for Turner.
D’Antoni was the leader of the Eric Gordon fan club, as he couldn’t refrain from singing his praises and refused to have Gordon come off the bench, despite him being clearly hobbled during the 2019-20 season.
Gordon is set to make $16.8 million during the 2020-21 season, which would make for an even swap with Turner’s $17.5 million, which would be the second year of his $80 million contract extension.
The trade would bring Gordon back to his hometown of Indianapolis and would shore up a need for both teams, as the Pacers need more scoring, which Gordon can clearly provide, and the Rockets need a big man who can shoot threes and protect the rim, like Turner.
Hopefully it’ll be that simple, although it never is. But if it is, this trade would address a clear need for both teams, while giving each side a player under contract long-term.