The Indiana Pacers find themselves at a crossroads in their relationship with sharpshooting guard Buddy Hield. With contract extension negotiations at a standstill, recent reports say that the Pacers are exploring the possibility of trading the veteran player. Such a move supports the franchise’s presumed direction of building from their young core.

Hield joined the Pacers in February 2022 alongside now-rising star, Tyrese Haliburton, where they were packaged for another All-Star Domantas Sabonis.

Hield is entering the final year of his four-year, $86-million contract and poised to be one of the most sought-after trade targets in the upcoming NBA season. Despite carrying a substantial cap hit of $19.3 million for the 2023-24 season, many teams view him as a reliable floor-spacer and a potent offensive weapon.

One of the most compelling reasons teams covet Hield is his remarkable three-point shooting prowess. He has solidified that reputation across his seven-year career, and it’s evident with the things he’s been flexing on the court. First, he is the fastest player in NBA history to reach 1,000 threes, entering the milestone in just 350 games; and second, no other player also has more threes than him over the last five years – Stephen Curry only playing for five games in the 2019-20 seasons sort of helped that, but that’s his mark regardless.

Further, in December of 2022, he set another record that’s also pretty tough to eclipse:

Talk about being a quick-trigger shooter.

Trade value and potential destinations

During the 2022-23 season, Hield posted respectable statistics, averaging 16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.2 steals per game while shooting a solid 42.5% from beyond the arc. These numbers underscore his value as a versatile contributor who can not only score from long range but also make plays occasionally. His on and off-ball defense is quite suspect, but he has also shown that he can disrupt passing lanes.

Nevertheless, while Hield’s skills on the court are undoubtedly desirable, the stalemate in contract negotiations and the potential trade discussions raise questions about his future in Indiana. 

It remains unclear what specific contract terms Hield is seeking, but his advancing age may play a role in the Pacers’ hesitation to commit long-term. Turning 31 this December, Hield was already one of the older players on the Pacers’ roster last season, which had an average age of 24.5 years – making them the seventh-youngest team in the league. Indy is led by the aforementioned Haliburton, and mainly seconded by veteran (though only 27 y.o.) rim protector Myles Turner, incoming second-year scoring guard Ben Mathurin, 2023 lottery pick Jarace Walker, and off-season signee Bruce Brown.

As the Pacers look to build a younger and more dynamic core, they may be hesitant to invest heavily in an aging player, even one as established as Buddy Hield.

Whether he remains in Indiana or finds a new home, the undeniable marksmanship will continue to make him a valuable asset in the league. 

Potential trade destinations will be intriguing as per usual. We’ll see if the Los Angeles Lakers can finally make a trade happen. They have been targeting Hield ever since his Sacramento days, and have either failed or become suddenly gun-shy a handful of times, including one before the now-infamous Russell Westbrook trade, and another that involved Myles Turner.

Whatever happens, it could be a roller-coaster season for Hield, especially in the coming months.