KRAVITZ: On a crazy NBA trade deadline day, the Pacers do the right thing: Nothing

FILE - Indiana Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard listens to a question during a news conference, Friday, June 23, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Bob Kravitz

The Indiana Pacers just did exactly what they needed to do at the NBA's trade deadline:

They did nothing.


They made calls, took calls, considered a few options – a source said they were in long-field-goal range on some moves, but never in the red zone – but from the very start of this process, they were disinclined to mess up what's become a very good thing and a very nice team with good on-court and off-court chemistry.

Barring a late collapse or a serious injury to a key player, the Pacers are going to make the playoffs, and depending on the matchup, they actually have a chance to win a first-round series. Currently, they stand at 30-25 (30-19 with Victor Oladipo in the lineup), good for sixth place in the Eastern Conference and just one game out of fifth, a game-and-a-half out of fourth and two games behind the rebuilt Cleveland Cavaliers in the third spot.

For now, that's going to have to be good enough.

If the Pacers were a title contender – from my lips to God's ears – a trade to add a final puzzle piece surely would have made sense. But they're not a title contender; not even close, and won't be for a number of years. GM Kevin Pritchard looked at his roster and liked what he saw, at least for the time being. He saw a team that shares the basketball, that runs and scores with the best teams in the league. This city loves this team, and there was no reason to tinker with a good thing.

All these Twitter GMs who wanted the Pacers to go out and get Kemba Walker or another difference-maker – tell me, who are the Pacers going to offer for a player of that caliber? Oladipo is untouchable. Domantas Sabonis is untouchable. And Myles Turner, despite his uneven and injury-marred third season, is untouchable. If you're a trading partner, you ask, "Who do the Pacers have who could make a big-time, big-name deal worthwhile?"

The answer: Nobody.

We know what the Pacers need: They need a big, hulking, rebound-happy power forward who they can pair with Turner in the starting lineup. They need an upgrade at small forward, where Bojan Bogdanovic has played reasonably well but, let's face it, he doesn't start for a championship-level team. They need upgrades around the edges of the roster.

Clearly, this is an unfinished product.

But Pritchard has properly chosen to play the long game.

Come this summer, the Pacers will be in one of the most advantageous spots in the league when it comes to salary-cap flexibility. That doesn't necessarily mean the Pacers are going to be spending wildly on top-tier free agents; history suggests those kinds of guys don't choose to come to Indiana, with the notable and unusual exception of David West. What it DOES mean is the Pacers will be one of six teams under the projected $101 million salary cap, and with so many teams over the cap, the Pacers will be able to make uneven trades as opposed to being forced to match salaries.

In other word, the Pacers can theoretically trade a $3 million player for a $10 million player. Plus, they still have $5.8 million under the cap that they possibly could use during the NBA Draft or thereafter. So while everybody else will be looking to drop assets and save cash, the Pacers figure to be big-time trade partners, not just this offseason, but well into the future.

Pritchard was known as a wheeler dealer in Portland, but he's been smart and patient since taking over the Pacers. Even when he heard the devastating news that Paul George wanted out of Indiana – maybe Pritchard can counsel Colts GM Chris Ballard – he took his time, let the draft come and go without a deal, then made the trade with Oklahoma City for Oladipo and Sabonis.

Most of us thought it was a one-sided deal at the time.

We were right.

Except we thought it was one-sided in Oklahoma City's favor.


Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make. The Pacers were never a major player at this deadline, and for a very good reason. You don't mess with a good thing.