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Around the NBA: Pacers moving toward rebuild and latest Blazers updates

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Indiana Pacers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

There was plenty of NBA news on Tuesday, including updates on two teams who could potentially be involved with the Sixers whenever they trade Ben Simmons.

Rebuild approaching for the Pacers?

Firstly, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Bob Kravitz reported that the Pacers are moving toward a rebuild, which includes being open to trading either Domantas Sabonis or Myles Turner:

In need of a new direction amid a 10-16 start to the season, the Indiana Pacers are moving toward a substantial rebuild and are expected to open up trade conversations around some of their veteran stalwarts, sources tell The Athletic.

Multiple sources said that the Pacers are receptive in trade dialogue with rival teams centered on potentially moving guard Caris LeVert and either two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis or center Myles Turner. All three players have frequently garnered significant interest from rival teams. Pacers officials have received frequent calls on both of their big men over the past several seasons, but new head coach Rick Carlisle wanted an opportunity to spend time with Sabonis and Turner and grow with the roster.

Another twin towers experiment with Joel Embiid, anyone?

In all seriousness, this news isn’t interesting for the Sixers in terms of them pursuing anyone the Pacers are likely to trade. The Sixers aren’t going to try to force another big man into a new awkward offensive lineup next to Embiid when high-level perimeter creation is what they need most. Caris LeVert isn’t good enough to really move the needle for the Sixers’ offense, either. And the main player who would have been of interest, Malcolm Brogdon, can’t be traded this season after signing his new two-year, $45 million extension.

Instead, this Pacers update is noteworthy because this could increase the chance of them getting involved with a Simmons trade as a third team. If another organization in the deal is after a new big man, the Pacers now have two quality options — from an elite rebounder, screener, passer and interior scorer in Sabonis, to one of the league’s top defensive centers in Turner — to offer in order to make a deal happen. Both players can make a big impact wherever they end up.

At the very least, it’s worth keeping an eye on the Pacers’ potential to be involved in multi-team trades moving forward. We’ve always known that there’s a good chance Simmons will be moved in a three-team deal, and the Pacers could still be one franchise who get in the mix.

The latest in Portland

On Monday, we heard that Damian Lillard is growing increasingly frustrated with the state of his Portland Trail Blazers and that he would even “like to play with” Ben Simmons. One package the Blazers, under the now-fired Neil Olshey, discussed was CJ McCollum, a young player like Anfernee Simons and a first-round pick. The Sixers reportedly asking for McCollum plus multiple picks and pick swaps was unsurprisingly too much for Portland.

Well, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has gone a little further and reported in a piece on the Blazers that Lillard has even wanted his team to trade McCollum and four first-round picks for Simmons:

In the past year, Lillard and his camp have been thwarted on leverage plays — Jason Kidd as coach, trading CJ McCollum and four first-round picks for Ben Simmons. Most of all, they lost the confidence that the Blazers had a top basketball executive and ownership willing to give Lillard the highest single-season pay in league history at $55.3 million in 2027.

Wojnarowski also discussed how the Blazers are hesitant to give Lillard a max contract extension, and other teams around the league are waiting for him to demand a trade so the Blazers lose leverage in negotiations.

For now, McCollum with a young player and maybe a pick or two looks like the most realistic level of offer for Simmons. Such a package would help the Sixers, giving them some more ball-handling and creation from McCollum, an injection of shooting, and some extra assets that can always be used in another move down the line. A trade like this clearly wouldn’t fix everything, though, given McCollum’s limitations as a passer, how little he gets to the rim and free throw line (which is the kind of off-the-dribble creation Philly needs more of), and how small/weak the Sixers’ backcourt defense would be.

Furthermore, is this even the kind of return that would interest the Sixers enough to pull the trigger on a trade? Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice has reported that the current answer to that question is no:

A source familiar with the situation spoke to PhillyVoice on Monday evening and said the Sixers have had no recent discussions with Portland regarding a CJ McCollum trade, and a package centered around the Blazers’ guard is not currently of interest to the Sixers.

Lastly, we received some startling news on Tuesday that McCollum has suffered a pneumothorax (a collapsed lung). There’s currently no timetable on when he will return to play. Hopefully he has a swift recovery.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated with all noteworthy trade buzz as things pick up and this season’s trade deadline gradually approaches.

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