Trade grades: Pacers stay busy with deal for Nets' Thaddeus Young
The Indiana Pacers have reportedly swung their second trade in as many days, acquiring power forward Thaddeus Young from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for the No. 20 pick in the 2016 NBA draft and a future second–round selection.
On Wednesday, Indiana dealt George Hill to Utah in a three–team trade and received Atlanta's Jeff Teague.
To review the Pacers' draft–day deal for Young, SI.com's Ben Golliver dishes out grades to both Indiana and Brooklyn.
Indiana Pacers Grade: B+
Pacers acquire: Thaddeus Young
Given his busy start to the off–season, it’s tempting to envision a red-faced Larry Bird pumping hard on the treadmill of mediocrity. The trade for Young lines up neatly alongside the promotion of Nate McMillan and the acquisition of Jeff Teague in the “solid but unspectacular” category.
Young, 28, will suit up for his fourth team since 2014 when he joins the Pacers, after bouncing from the Sixers to the Timberwolves and on to the Nets. A complementary and versatile player whose value as a power forward is diminished by his lack of three-point range, Young is nevertheless a solid contributor who is ideally suited to life as a third or fourth option.
In Brooklyn, Young (15.1 PPG, 9 RPG) was cast as one of the team’s few competent and proven players, a level of responsibility that he’s simply not qualified to succeed under. In Indiana, he should find a better home on the pecking order behind creators like Paul George and Teague, and he’s unlikely to catch feelings if his touches and scoring numbers take a hit when he’s surrounded by better teammates. Position fit-wise, Young pencils in cleanly between George at the three and promising 2015 draft pick Myles Turner at the five, giving Indiana a mobile, athletic and balanced frontline regardless of whether Ian Mahinmi stays or goes in free agency.
Young’s contract—$14.1 million in 2016-17 and $14.7 million in 2017-18, with a $13.7 million player option for 2018-19, per Yahoo Sports—works for Indiana in terms of value and length. The Pacers are plunging forward into year two of their plans to modernize their style of play, and Young gives them a starting-caliber player at a reasonable price and who, unlike Teague, represents an element of stability thanks to the multiple guaranteed years left on his deal.
A trade for Young is never going to be a huge cause for celebration. In Indiana’s case, though, there’s nothing to object to and plenty of reasons for optimism: he’s fairly compensated, he arrived at market price, he fills a position of need, he fits the desired style of play, his contract term fits the big picture and he should keep George playing the vast majority of his minutes at the three. Honestly, Young makes far more sense with the Pacers than he did with the Sixers, Timberwolves and Nets, so perhaps he’ll stick around awhile.
Brooklyn Nets Grade: B
Nets acquire: 2016 first–round pick, future second–round pick
When Sean Marks took the plunge and accepted the Nets GM job in February, he did so knowing he was inheriting a team that was low on established talent, very low on future draft picks and very low on young prospects. For an executive in his position, there isn’t much he can do about the lack of established talent: come July, Brooklyn will be bypassed by more desirable destinations by the top-tier free agents and overpaying for mediocre players generally isn’t the best way to begin a long-term rebuilding project.
That left Marks with no other option but to embrace a sell-off. The only players on his roster with real value were Brook Lopez and Young, and here he cleanly cashed in Young for the same price that the Timberwolves paid the Sixers two years ago (with a little extra credit for adding a future second-round pick). There was zero reason for the Nets to cling to a “good, but not great” veteran making eight figures like Young given their bleak outlook in 2016-17. Might as well take a shot late in the draft and give the resulting rookie all the pressure-free minutes he can handle next year.
One thing to keep in mind: Brooklyn won’t directly benefit from a hardcore tanking next season, as the Nets must swap 2017 first-round picks with the Celtics as part of a previous trade. In other words, even if Marks sells off Lopez and the Nets finish with the league’s worst record, their 2017 pick will rely on where the Celtics finish (right now, Boston looks like a solid playoff team). While that previous mistake takes some of the upside out of the Young trade, this was still the right move for the right reasons by the new Nets regime.