The Indiana Pacers have begun working to find a potential trade for Buddy Hield, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Hield is currently extension-eligible and can also renegotiate his contract with the Pacers, allowing him to increase his $19.3 million salary for this season. Hield rejected a recent extension offer, so the Pacers are expected to listen to trade offers for him.
Hield is coming off one of his strongest regular season performances where he shot 42.5 percent on three-pointers off 8.5 attempts per game. He is one of the best volume shooters in the league who ranked 6th last season in three-pointers made among players who attempted at least 5 three-pointers per game. He’s also one of the most reliable players in the league having only missed six games in his entire seven-year career.
Hield’s shooting, reliability, and role malleability to start and come off the bench, should make him an attractive trade target for many teams. His $19.3 million salary also makes him a relatively simple acquisition for most teams, especially now with the new expanded trade rules. Teams below the $172.3 million first apron only need to send out $11.8 million in outgoing salary to match for Hield.
What are the Pacers looking for?
The Pacers could be looking at a return featuring an expiring contract with draft picks, a standard framework from teams looking to acquire the best player in a deal. However, Indiana’s front office trade history could suggest they could seek a player they could plug into their lineup instead of draft picks. That’s not to say they won’t accept a picks-based package, but they could require a premium draft pick, like when they got a first-round pick from the Cavaliers for Caris LeVert.
Another factor that could suggest they would want an impact player is that they appear ready to make a push toward the playoffs after two seasons in the lottery. They retooled their roster over the past year and a half to a younger and more athletic group centered around cornerstone Tyrese Haliburton. They recently extended Myles Turner, the only holdover from the previous Pacers core, and acquired Bruce Brown and Obi Toppin this offseason.
Indiana was one of the best three-point shooting teams last year ranking high in both threes made and percentage. As great of a shooter Hield has been for them, their roster foundation and offensive system could be equipped for his departure. He might be looking at a role reduction anyway with Brown and Toppin taking away minutes from him.
The Pacers are also likely factoring in the development of Bennedict Mathurin with an expectation that he will adequately fill the Hield role. They may be hard-pressed to acquire a replacement-level shooter in exchange for Hield since teams interested in him are likely looking to improve the shooting on their rosters.
Below is a list of several teams that could use Hield and make a reasonable offer for him.
The Houston Rockets ranked last in the league last season in three-point percentage and 22nd in three-point attempts. Those numbers should go up by virtue of having a great point guard and playmaker in Fred VanVleet who should help create better three-point opportunities. They could still use a pure shooter to come off the bench and Hield would be a perfect fit.
The Rockets could acquire Hield straight up for the $15.9 million salary of Kevin Porter Jr., whom they have made available for trade. According to Charania, the Rockets are looking to attach draft compensation with Porter’s contract to acquire a player who can help them win. They could offer a surplus of second-round picks, but the Pacers could prioritize a protected first-round pick in such an exchange.
The Dallas Mavericks are already a strong three-point shooting team but could still use another reliable player to add to their rotation. The pressure is on for them to maximize the roster around Luka Doncic after such a disappointing 2022-23 season. Hield would be yet another undersized guard, but the Mavericks haven’t had any qualms with rostering too many of them over the past few seasons.
The Mavericks could match for Hield with the salaries of Tim Hardaway Jr. or Richaun Holmes. Hardaway Jr. could serve as a lower-usage replacement for Hield in Indiana, and perhaps a reunion with Rick Carlisle could get him back to his form from a few years ago. Due to the remaining two years on Hardaway Jr. and Holmes’ contracts, the Mavericks may need to include a first-round pick to entice the Pacers.
The Memphis Grizzlies made a strong effort to improve their three-point shooting last year with significant changes to their bench. They could look to improve their overall volume of threes made by swapping Luke Kennard for Buddy Hield. He could situationally close games for them with their small forward slot fluid. Also, by going from Kennard’s $14.8 million salary to Hield’s $19.3 million, they’d have a larger salary they could potentially flip later for a definitive starting three, if the opportunity comes.
The trade may feel like a lateral move for the Pacers but it could make sense for several reasons. They get one of the most efficient shooters in the league who would have a smaller role and usage, allowing other younger players to play more. They also have more optionality with Kennard since he has a team option, such as extending or re-signing him to a new team-friendly deal.
The Boston Celtics feel like a stretch considering they’re already a great three-point shooting team and don’t have a huge need for Hield. However, it’s recently been reported that Malcolm Brogdon is unhappy with the Celtics. If the relationship is irreparable, could a trade sending Brogdon back to Indiana for Hield make sense?
Brogdon is coming off the best three-point shooting season of his career so he could provide replacement-level shooting for the Pacers. However, his two-year, $45 million extension that they originally signed him to is set to kick in this season. If the Pacers want to prioritize cap flexibility for 2024, they may prefer to see Brogdon sent to a third team.
The Brooklyn Nets recently salary-dumped Joe Harris to create as much flexibility as possible for potential trades. They could be hoping to cash in on their surplus of first-round picks for a star but that opportunity may not come this season. If no better option comes along, they could use a player like Hield.
The Nets could acquire Hield without including any of their top 6 highest-paid players. They could actually acquire him without sending a player back since they have a $19.9 million trade exception from trading Harris. A framework that could make sense is absorbing Hield with the trade exception while sending Royce O‘Neale back, giving the Pacers a good role player. By sending out O’Neale, the Nets would be slightly above the luxury tax line and would be able to get below it with a subsequent trade.
The Philadelphia 76ers could be looking at a significantly different starting lineup this year if they trade James Harden. Such a trade could feature multiple teams where the Sixers get back draft picks and players who can help them maximize their window around Joel Embiid. Hield would make a lot of sense for the Sixers as part of a multi-team deal that sends Harden to a preferred destination like the Los Angeles Clippers.
If Harden is to be traded to the Clippers, they could be looking to balance their backcourt by sending out a guard like Norman Powell. The Sixers are trying to keep their 2024 cap flexibility so they’ll likely prefer expiring contracts. Powell could be a great addition to the Pacers rotation if they value him and his remaining three years, $57.7 million.