The Pacers completed their third and final trade before the deadline sending Craig back to the Suns and getting a former top-ten pick in Smith in return.
The Indiana Pacers were on a quest to rebuild their roster and made three trades before the deadline to work towards that goal. Their final trade was made with the Phoenix Suns sending Torrey Craig back to the desert along with cash considerations and receiving Jalen Smith plus a 2022 second-round pick in return. Shortly after the trade, many believed the Pacers would flip Smith but no trade occurred. The Pacers also kept Myles Turner past the deadline after his name appeared in rumors leading up to the deadline. With this trade, Indiana freed up $5 million. Couple that with the expiring contracts of Tristan Thompson and Ricky Rubio that they previously acquired, the Pacers will have some cap flexibility in the offseason.
The Pacers were shipping out their older talent and Craig was one of the last dominos to fall. After spending last season with the Milwaukee Bucks and Suns, Craig signed a two-year $10 million contract with the Pacers. He played in 51 games for Indiana starting 14. Averaging 20.3 mpg, Craig shot 45.6 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from three en route to scoring 6.5 ppg. In addition, he averaged 3.8 rpg and 1.1 apg. Craig was initially brought in for a veteran presence but after the organization started the rebuild Craig was no longer needed. He returns to Phoenix with the hope of making the NBA Finals again.
Smith and Pick
Smith is in his second season in the NBA after being drafted 10th overall in 2020. He was actually taken two places ahead of recently-acquired Pacer Tyrese Haliburton. Smith hasn’t received favor with the Suns only playing in 27 games his rookie season starting one. Once the Suns committed to winning a championship veterans and proven players saw more time.
This season Smith has played in 29 games starting four. He had a run of six games transitioning into the new year where he scored in double-digits every game. In three of those games, he notched double-doubles in points and rebounds. The Pacers were rumored to have many suitors for Smith when they acquired him but chose to keep him at the deadline. Indiana also received a 2022 second-round pick from the Suns to add to their draft stash.
Indiana has bought into the rebuild and the changes that desperately needed to be made. After trading away several of their veteran players Craig was the last to part. In return, the Pacers get a promising prospect in Smith with the hopes that he can develop into a dominant forward. The second-round pick goes into the pot of draft assets that are slowly pilling up from recent trades. The youth movement is on in the Hoosier state and Smith fits the bill. After the deadline, the Pacers somehow acquired two promising 21-year-olds drafted two picks apart in the 2020 draft.
The Suns are back at it trying to win an NBA championship. Craig was set to win one either way last year having spent part of the season with the Bucks and the other with Phoenix. The Suns let Craig walk last offseason but jumped at the opportunity to bring him back. They were given the opportunity to get a player they are extremely familiar with and one that knows their system. Chemistry is also a huge factor since the Suns kept most of the championship-run roster together outside of Craig. The Suns were better off getting a proven veteran than spending time on a developing prospect.