With their recent playoff elimination and the future of their star player Paul George in question, this is a turbulent time to be an Indiana Pacers fan. They don’t have a high draft pick, their roster is nowhere near good enough to contend for a title and they aren’t especially young either.
Even though the state of Indiana is known for being fanatic about basketball their main franchise hasn’t produced much success. They have yet to win an NBA championship and haven’t made it to the Finals since 2000. Part of this is their tendency to make pretty bad decisions when it comes to their trades throughout their history. Here are five of the worst.
5. Detlef Schrempf
In 1992/93 Schrempf had just played his best season as a pro. He had made his first All-Star game after averaging a very tidy 19.1 points and 9.5 rebounds. He looked set to be a solid player for at least the next few years who would continue to be productive alongside Reggie Miller.
But the Pacers had other ideas.
They decided to trade Schremp to the Seattle Supersonics for Derrick McKey and Gerald Paddio. Mckey was nothing more than a role-player and Paddio was out of the league after the next season.
Not very smart.
4. Bernard King
Bernard King was one of the most explosive scorers we’ve ever seen who lit up Madison Square Garden in his prime. With an extremely quick trigger and a lightening first step he was unstoppable at his peak and if he hadn’t had a major knee injury there is no doubt he would be remembered as one of the All-Time greats.
And he could’ve been a Pacer.
In 1977 Indiana traded their first round draft pick to the New York Nets for John Williamson. That pick turned out to be Bernard King. Williamson was a decent player with a career average of 17.5 points, but he was nothing compared with the electric King.
Oh, what might have been.
3. Alex English
If I told you that a franchise traded someone who then went on to become an 8-time All-Star, and NBA scoring champion and a top 20 scorer of all time for a worn out veteran who would retire in the next 2 years you’d think it was April Fools.
This is the story of Alex English, one of the more efficient shooters we’ve seen with a career field-goal percentage of 50.7% at the small forward position. How the Pacers even considered this is beyond me. McGinnis, the player Indiana got in return retired at 31. English aged 35 was an All-Star averaging 26.5 points a game.
On top of this Indiana also included a first round draft pick. My goodness.
2. Kawhi Leonard
George Hill, Kawhi Leonard. Rarely are these two in the same sentence together. One is a decent starting point guard, the other is widely considered to be the best defender and two-way player in the league. Yet Kawhi was originally drafted by the Pacers in 2011, then sent over to San Antonio with three other players for George Hill.
This not only shows the Pacer’s misfortune but also the utter genius that is the San Antonio Spurs. They were able to see what Indiana could not, that the quiet and humble demeanor of Kawhi Leonard hid beneath it one of the fiercest competitive drives in the NBA.
As a two-time defensive player of the year, a Final’s MVP and as someone who’s increased his scoring averages every year thus far, you can hear the Pacers kicking themselves on this one.
When will they ever learn?
1. Michael Jordan
A name that will resonate throughout human history, a player that will be talked about till the end of time, a legacy that stands unmatched.
Easily the greatest player of all time and a global icon, his Chicago Bulls were the nemeses of Indiana during the 90s providing some extremely memorable matchups in the process.
And all that time he could have been playing for Indiana.
Yep, Indiana missed out on the game’s greatest ever player. How, you ask? Well, they traded away their 1984 first round pick for a guy called Tom Owens from Portland.
Yeah, I hadn’t heard of him either.
This pick ended up being the second which the Trailblazers then infamously used to select Sam Bowie, a guy would average just over 10 points a game in his career, allowing Chicago to draft Jordan.
Can you hear me shaking my head?