The Indiana Pacers and Buddy Hield have apparently reached an impasse in contract extension talks, and, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the two sides will explore trade possibilities for the sharpshooting guard as he enters the final year of his contract, which is worth $19.2 million.
Hield should have plenty of interest given his floor-spacing abilities, hitting 42.5 percent from three on high volume a year ago and being a career 40.2 percent shooter from distance. However, finding teams that would be interested in adding Hield and finding realistic trades for him are two different things. At $19.2 million on an expiring, Hield falls into the middle ground of salary that not every team can match, and there are a handful of contenders that would surely love having Hield on the roster but don’t have clear pathways to matching his salary. Beyond that, finding players making that kind of money that the Pacers would be interested in is also a bit tricky, with the added element that Indiana might need to find a team willing to extend Hield as well.
As such, there are a couple of potential pathways for the Pacers. One is to simply keep Hield around this season and let him walk this summer, as they’re one of the rare teams that would actually gain usable cap space by allowing him to hit free agency. If they are to trade him, they have to decide what is most important to get in return. Indiana has designs on competing for a Play-In spot in the East this season, and they might look to move Hield for another veteran on a longer term deal. However, they also could use Hield to try and bring in a draft asset, as he provides more value on his deal than a handful of shooting guards around the league on similar contracts. The Pacers could flip Hield for a lesser veteran and a future pick, which could be a protected first round pick depending on how much of a downgrade they’re willing to accept in the immediate.
Here we’ll present five potential trades that could fit into those two categories, with the understanding that we don’t know exactly what Indiana’s priorities are at the moment — or exactly how other teams around the league value Hield.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Pacers get: Davis Bertans, lottery protected 2024 Clippers first round pick
Thunder get: Buddy Hield
I am once again begging Sam Presti to finally let go of one of his first round picks he’s been hoarding to try and make an upgrade to this very good, but very young Thunder roster. While there’s some risk involved in using a first to get an expiring veteran, Hield went to Oklahoma so I think there’s a legit chance he’d re-sign in OKC and it’d be a popular move with the fans. On top of that, what really is the risk with parting with a late first round pick when you have a dozen of them in the next few years.
The Thunder could really use an elite three-point shooter in their lineup, as it’s the one thing they are really missing. Hield would get great looks off of the attention Shai Gilgeous-Alexander receives and provide SGA with spacing he desperately needs. The Thunder also have so many long, athletic wings that Hield would almost never be paired with a subpar defender, which mitigates the biggest weakness in Hield’s game.
For the Pacers, they would clear the way for Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard to take on bigger roles in the backcourt and get a first round pick for the trouble of taking on two years of Bertans’ salary. Again, this is only a move they make if they’re fine taking a longview with a Hield trade, but the Clippers pick could very well have some value and end up in the late teens/early 20s and they might find ways to deploy Bertans in hopes he can give them some frontcourt floorspacing — although, again, he’s not the centerpiece of this trade.
Pacers get: Luke Kennard, Ziaire Williams
Grizzlies get: Buddy Hield
This one fascinates me because I honestly don’t know who comes out on top in this deal, which makes me think it might be good (I’m sure plenty of folks will inform me I’m wrong about that). Kennard was unreal in Memphis after the deadline in a pretty small sample (24 games) after a fairly lackluster tenure in L.A. in terms of impact despite knocking down 45 percent of his threes for the Clippers — I still don’t know if that was more a Clippers issue or a Kennard issue. That said, Hield is, I think, generally viewed as a more dynamic shooter than Kennard, and if the Grizzlies feel that skillset would be an upgrade, they could easily package Kennard and one of their rookie salaries for Hield — in this instance I included Ziaire Williams because I think Memphis has maybe seen enough and is ready to move on from him.
The Pacers would get Kennard for two years and still have a great floor-spacing option off the bench, but who also doesn’t log as many minutes which opens up more time for their young guards as well. Williams would be a flier as a young wing who might just need a change of scenery, but might also just not be the guy Memphis hoped he would be. In any case, this would be arguably the best of the “win-now” trades for Hield, as they kick the can down the road for another year at that position with Kennard and wouldn’t give up too much production.
Los Angeles Clippers
Pacers get: Norman Powell
Clippers get: Buddy Hield
The Pacers also could poke around in L.A. and see if Norman Powell is still available from the Clippers, who have reportedly shut off trade talks with the Sixers on James Harden. I’m not sure the Clippers are ready to totally close the door on Harden and this might be more of a deadline type move should they realize they’re just not getting the former MVP out of Philly. In any case, Hield might be a better fit for what the Clippers need in terms of a dynamic shooting threat around Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook who doesn’t need the ball in his hands much to have an impact offensively.
For Indiana, Powell would be a good secondary ball-handler next to Tyrese Haliburton who is also a more than capable knockdown shooter (39.7 percent from three last year) and they’d have him for three years. Whether that fits into their timetable with Mathurin is a very different question, but if the goal is to win sooner than later, adding solid veterans isn’t a bad idea.
Pacers get: Tim Hardaway Jr., 2025 Raptors second round pick
Mavericks get: Buddy Hield
This one’s going to be a pretty popular fake trade because it makes so much sense from the Mavs perspective. They could desperately use an elite shooter that doesn’t need the basketball next to Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic, and Hield fits the bill to a tee. Now, that trio might be flammable defensively, but they were with Hardaway Jr. in there as well, so might as well get as much out of the offense as you can. The question here is whether the Mavs have enough ammunition to get Hield in a THJ swap. They don’t have many first round picks to work with after their various trades for Kristaps Porzingis and Kyrie Irving, so they’d need to attach one of their few seconds and hope that’s enough. If there are firsts out there, I doubt that’s the case, but I’m also not sure those will be available and the Pacers might just want to get something for Hield. Hardaway Jr. shot the ball pretty well a year ago from three (38.5 percent) and would be the best of the veterans in the “add a pick” packages I suggest here, but this certainly wouldn’t be an exciting package for the Pacers.
New York Knicks
Pacers get: Evan Fournier, lottery protected 2024 Mavs first round pick
Knicks get: Buddy Hield
Another one in the salary dump category for the Pacers would be to try and extract a protected first rounder out of New York alongside Evan Fournier, who has two years left on his deal. I’m not sure the Knicks would do this, just because they might be trying to keep all of their future firsts for a big swing at someone this summer, but if they don’t think that opportunity is going to come available by the draft (and they have plenty of future firsts beyond 2024), they could do worse than turning the Mavs pick (which they could lottery protect and give themselves a 11-14 window to keep it if Dallas flails again this year) and Fournier into Hield. The Knicks could absolutely benefit from Hield’s floor-spacing, as they lack a dynamic shooting threat, but I’m not sure they’d want to commit to him long-term and I feel like the only way you make this move to send a first out for him is if you are keeping him beyond this year.
Overall, there aren’t a lot of obvious trades out there for Hield despite his skillset and it’ll be interesting to see if we get any rumblings of concrete offers that give us an idea of what the league views as his value on the trade market. I’m not sure there is a protected first out there for him, but I think the Thunder would be the ideal candidate to make that type of offer. Otherwise, Indiana will have to determine what’s better to have: a veteran under contract for next year (or two more) or to have a big chunk of cap space available once again next summer.