The Indiana Pacers are searching for roster upgrades as the trade deadline approaches. Although they are desperate to make a move, they need to make sure the players they are targeting fit what they need.
In an effort to get star forward Paul George more help, the Pacers have been actively talking to teams about potential trades.
Okafor is not having a great year as he is only averaging 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 38 games this season. Also, he has dealt with injuries, and the Sixers have limited his minutes as a result. His name has been involved in numerous trade talks over the past weeks.
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Meanwhile, Lopez is in the second year of a three-year, $63.5 million deal. The 28-year old center is averaging 20.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game this season. The New Orleans Pelicans were reported interested in him before those talks broke down.
Both of these guys are talented players. However, it is confusing to see how the Pacers think either one of these guys will fit into their offensive system.
Both of these guys are post up players. They are not really pick-and-roll big men or even off-ball screen setters. They need the ball on the block, which means the ball could stick in their hands for an extended period of time.
That is the exact opposite of what the Pacers’ offense is theoretically supposed to accomplish. The Pacers’ offense currently caters to ball movement and screening. Players like Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young thrive in pick-and-roll situations.
With that in mind, adding Okafor or Lopez seems like a detriment rather than a gain. Also, how would the lineups work? If the Pacers kept Teague, Young, George and Myles Turner in the starting lineup, do Okafor and Lopez fit?
Turner can operate on the perimeter, but that under-utilizes his talent. However, they cannot put him in the post with Okafor or Lopez because the paint becomes too crowded. It will be hard for Teague or George to drive to the rim with all the bodies in the middle of the lane.
Defensively, can the Pacers guard smaller lineups with Turner and another big on the floor. Okafor and Lopez are not athletic big men. Turner is athletic, but having him guard athletic bigs like Markieff Morris, Paul Millsap or Al Horford does not seem like a great idea.
To avoid these conflicts, the Pacers probably would not play Turner with Okafor or Lopez. They kind of do that with him and Al Jefferson already.
The possibility of the Pacers having to stagger the shifts opens up a new can of words. Should they give up a first round pick for a player who probably cannot play with their best unit?
The Pacers will have to fork over their 2017 first round pick to acquire either Okafor or Lopez. While they are willing to part ways with it in order to make the playoffs, they cannot rush into a bad move. Trading for one of these two guys feels like a bad move.
If the Pacers were still under former head coach Frank Vogel‘s control, these potential trades would have different meaning. Vogel’s offense catered to post-up and isolation plays. However, Indiana threw that strategy out the window when they decided to hire Nate McMillan.
Unless the Pacers decide to revert back to their 2015-16 offense, they should avoid acquiring Okafor or Lopez. Yes, Lopez and Okafor have talent. However, their playing styles do not match what the Pacers need.