What Big Men Should the Indiana Pacers Be Targeting As the Trade Deadline Approaches?

Serge Ibaka of the Orlando magic

Jan 1, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka (7) takes a shot against Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As the February 23rd trade deadline approaches, the Indiana Pacers have some options that need to be explored.

In a recent article, I explained the needs that must be satisfied and positions that must be filled in by the Indiana Pacers strive to elevate their team to the next level.

First, on the Indiana’s to-do-list is adding another big man. Lucky for them, the trading block is full of players that fit the bill. Let’s break these potential Pacers down.

Serge Ibaka

The once great Oklahoma City Thunder center is once again available for trade after just a half of a season in Orlando. Ibaka is one of the most highly coveted players on the trading block with many teams clamoring for his services.

Orlando is looking to destruct their current roster as they begin the rebuilding process.  He is averaging a career-best 15.1 points per game to go along with 6.8 rebounds. He just simply isn’t a part of the Magic’s rebuilding process, but he is just as valuable as ever.

The Indiana Pacers are desperate for more production on both ends to become a contender, and adding a guy like Ibaka is imperative. Ibaka can stretch the floor, is a top-tier rim protecter, and can rebound with the best. The 6’10’ power forward is a do-it-all-guy, and would instantly propel Indiana into one of the league’s top teams as an elite player on both ends of the floor. Ibaka can also play the 4 or the 5, so he would fit well with Myles Turner and Thad Young regardless of if he was a starter or 6th man.

While this trade is improbable given all of his suitors, it is feasible to get Serge Ibaka in a Pacers uniform and Indiana would love to see that come to fruition. He is undoubtedly the number one option on the market for Indiana’s frontcourt needs.

Nerlens Noel of the Philadelphia 76ers

Feb 11, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) dunks against the Miami Heat during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 117-109. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Nerlens Noel

The former Kentucky Wildcat standout is absolutely up for grabs. But, which Philadelphia 76ers big man not named Joel Embiid is safe in the city of brotherly love?

But, which Philadelphia 76ers big man not named Joel Embiid is safe in the city of brotherly love? With that being said, the Indiana Pacers must pursue Nerlens Noel. Noel is averaging a season-low 18.7 minutes per game and putting up averages of 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds. These averages are all careers lows, and that can be attributed to the overload of big men in Philly.

He is lost in the shuffle with coach Brett Brown giving minutes to Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Ersan Ilyasova, Dario Saric and Richaun Holmes, and it is time for Noel to get out of town. The Indiana Pacers can offer exactly what Noel needs to rejuvenate his young career. He can also give Indiana exactly what they need to rejuvenate their team.

Nerlens is long, energetic, athletic and ready to prove himself amidst the recent adversity he has faced in Philadelphia. Pacers fans can only hope that the seemingly inevitable trade of Jahlil Okafor does not carve out more minutes or a new role for Noel, and he remains open for trade. Nerlens should be a top priority in Indy as the deadline looms.

If a trade is executed, the Pacers’ team and Noel’s career would undoubtedly be better for it.

Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls

Oct 6, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers center Al Jefferson (7) dribbles the ball as Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) defends at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 115-108. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Taj Gibson

How long has Taj Gibson been on the trading block? The answer is too long, and it is time he exits the Windy City. He has been a mainstay in Chicago despite all their movement over the years, but their collection of bigs definitely increases their likelihood to move him.

The Pacers should go after the USC grad as he is a proven and experienced player that plays both ways. Gibson is averaging 11.6 points per game, 7 rebounds per game and nearly one block per contest. Unlike other bigs mentioned, these are actually above his career averages. Despite the enhancement in his numbers, the possibility of Gibson being moved is very much alive.

Taj is a player that Indiana would welcome with open arms, as he would provide a scoring punch at the power forward position that the Pacers simply do not have. He is an efficient scorer that gets it done on the block and from mid-range. Also, his defensive prowess is not to be overlooked. Gibson is likely the third-best big on the market for Indiana to pursue.

Nonetheless, his presence in Indiana would take them over the top just as Ibaka and Noel could do.

Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets

Jan 28, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) reacts after closing out the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Nuggets won 123-112. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Kenneth Faried

If the Pacers’ front office cannot land Ibaka or Noel, there is still hope, and that hope goes by the name of Kenneth “The Manimal” Faried. Faried and Denver are no longer a perfect match, and it is time that they move on from each other.

He has also been on the trade block for a significant amount of time. Like Noel, Faried is stuck in a big man saturated rotation, and is averaging career lows in minutes at 22.3 and points at 9.9. Despite the spotty minutes, Faried is still ripping down eight rebounds per game. Indiana is in desperate need of a glass cleaner like Faried as they are 27th in the league in team rebounding.

He also thrives in fast-paced systems, and it is clear that Indiana is moving toward a quicker pace of play this season. Faried is a valuable commodity that can probably be acquired for less than what he is worth because Denver is ready to move on from him. Indiana should take advantage of this situation and go after “The Manimal.”

He is the fourth-best big man available for Indiana on the market, but bringing him in would be far from settling.

Dec 7, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) backs in against Memphis Grizzlies center Kosta Koufus (41) in the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 7, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) backs in against Memphis Grizzlies center Kosta Koufus (41) in the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Kosta Koufus

Kosta Koufus is on the market, and he would be a major asset for the Eastern conference’s 6th place Indiana Pacers. While he may not be the first option among current bigs on the trading block, his skill set would be a crucial addition for the Pacers.

The possibility of acquiring the 7-foot Sacramento King is extremely achievable and necessary if Indiana cannot snag the likes of Ibaka, Noel, Gibson or Faried. Koufus is averaging 6.2 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game in 19.2 minutes.

He is a solid player who could bolster Indiana’s effort off its struggling bench with his strong post play, quality mid-range jumper, rebounding and defense efforts.

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