INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – While the Houston Rockets were trying to solve their own problems on Wednesday, the Indiana Pacers were able to solve a situation of their own in the same blockbuster deal.
The Pacers, stuck at a crossroads with All-Star guard Victor Oladipo in long-term contract talks, didn't want to be left holding an empty bag at the end of the season when the former IU star's contract ran out. So they got involved in a four-team mega-deal that eventually shipped Oladipo to the Rockets in exchange for rising star Caris LeVert and a 2023 second-round pick from Houston.
For Indiana, this was a huge win going forward because LeVert, a former Michigan star, is a rising talent in the league. He's averaging nearly 19 points per game and six assists for Brooklyn. LeVert will join the a Pacers team that includes Malcom Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, TJ Warren, Myles Turner, Doug McDermott and the Holiday brothers (Justin and Aaron).
The Rockets were the team at the epicenter of this trade, because they were trying to find a way to unload All-Star James Harden to the Nets, but needed more in return than what New Jersey could simply do on its own. The Cleveland Cavaliers entered the deal, too, as did the Pacers. Brooklyn now has a three-headed monster in Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
At the end of the day, The Rockets had Oladipo, plus Brooklyn's three unprotected first-round draft picks—2022, 2024 and 2026—plus pick swaps with the Nets in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. Houston also will receive Brooklyn forward Rodions Kurucs and guard Dante Exum from the Cavaliers.
The Pacers get LeVert and a 2023 second-round pick from Houston, and Cleveland gets center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince from the Nets. LeVert is in the first year of a very affordable three-year $52.5 million contract and plugs right in to the role that Oladipo played with the Pacers.
Oladipo is averaging 20 points, nearly six rebounds and just more than four assists this season. In Houston, he will play alongside John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, PJ Tucker and another former Hoosier, Eric Gordon.
Despite dealing with multiple significant injuries in recent years, Oladipo made two All-Star teams with the Pacers and was also a member of an NBA All-Defensive team in 2017-18. At the time of the reported trade, Indiana was 7–4 on the season. He was the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft after a successful three-year college career at Indiana.
The Pacers are looking to make their sixth consecutive postseason appearance in what is the first season for head coach Nate Bjorkgren.