The Indiana Pacers made their intentions to go into a complete rebuild public, reportedly fielding offer calls for stars Caris Levert, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis. BasketballNews.com shared a comprehensive take on potential landing spots for Levert, with a long list of teams that will significantly benefit from the scoring punch the young star can provide, such as the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz. A few young and upcoming teams are also listed in the piece as teams that would get a major boost from acquiring Levert.
While Levert is an exciting prospect, he is still working his way back into form after a series of injuries that had him in and out of lineups over the past few years. This version of Caris Levert does not automatically change your fortunes as a franchise, but there is one player on the Pacers who does, and that is All-Star Domantas Sabonis. It will be interesting to see where Sabonis ends up after the fire sale in Indiana, but here are a few destinations that make sense for the forward from Gonzaga.
Golden State Warriors
Sabonis on the Dubs would be outright scary and would make them the favorites to win it all, even over the Brooklyn Nets at full force. A front line of Domantas Sabonis and Draymond Green would give the Warriors playmaking ability at every position, making their offense even more lethal than it already is. Imagine having Draymond and Steph running the hand-off action on one side, only to have Klay and Domantas able to do the same thing on the weak side if the initial play falls through? There is absolutely no way to defend that.
Of course, a trade needs to be beneficial to both parties involved, and Indiana would only give up their star if they can get what they need to start their rebuild. The Warriors can offer young players James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody to help the Pacers get the ball rolling on their rebuild. Wiseman and Kuminga are top-five picks, while Moody has the potential to be a solid contributor in the NBA. The three young players would provide a talented and athletic set of cornerstones for a possible resurgence in Indiana in the next 5-7 years.
If the Pacers do not want to completely start from scratch, they should give Brad Stevens a call. The combination of Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown looks less like a dynamic duo and more of a duplication of talents with each game that the two young Celtics share the floor. Tatum is the obvious choice to keep in Boston, and a straight-up swap of Sabonis for Brown is as mutually beneficial as any trade the NBA has seen in years.
We know Brad Stevens' affinity for big men who can pass the rock, and Sabonis is all that and more. Sabonis has great instincts from the high post and can deliver the ball to athletic cutting wings like Tatum, giving them easy baskets. Giving up Brown would mean Boston giving up arguably their best defender, but with Smart and Josh Richardson, they aren't exactly devoid of strong wing defenders. Brown would be a star in Indiana and bring shades of a young Paul George to a city in need of a star they can rally around, Jaylen's complete game will be on full display with the Pacers, and players around the league would likely want to play with him after seeing the full extent of his talents.
You better believe that once The Athletic broke the news, Daryl Morey was the first one to pick up the phone. Morey's attempts to land a star in return for Ben Simmons have been nothing short of a failure, but this is the moment he has been waiting for, a team with disgruntled stars or just wants to blow it up and start over. Indiana would be able to build a team around Simmons' many talents, and while it's not California, Simmons does not have the luxury of choice at this point either.
Sabonis might seem like an odd fit for the Sixers, especially with the Pacers' struggles playing him alongside Myles Turner. However, even if Embiid is at his best when punishing defenders in the post, his durability means that he may soon have to mix up his points of attack very soon. Banging with other big bodies inside and constantly working off pick and rolls can be stressful on the body, which Embiid cannot afford to be doing in the regular season. On the other hand, Sabonis is built for the physical play inside and is a good decision maker off the short roll. Having him on the team should allow Embiid to take some plays off on the offensive end, using his excellent perimeter shooting to continue to be a threat.
Do you think there are other teams in play to land Sabonis? He's a fantastic player, and it would be great to see where else Domantas can take his career to new heights.