The Pacers need to be improved. There's an obvious swap out there that seems like a no-brainer for each side.
Oklahoma City receives: Brandon Rush
Indiana receives: Eric Maynor, B.J. Mullens
Why the Pacers make this deal: Indy badly needs to upgrade at backup point guard. Maynor is a quick fix. He's young, dependable. Good passer. Supposedly the Pacers liked him as a draft prospect. Bringing him in allows the team to cut ties with A.J. Price, whose contract is not fully guaranteed for next season. Price is a poor passer and can't create anything other than jump shots, which he knocks down infrequently. Mullens, meanwhile, is a 22-year-old, 7-foot center. With Foster aging and Solomon Jones departing, Indiana would be wise to get a true backup at that position. B.J. has plenty of room to grow. Better him than Erick Dampier or a used-up has-been. As far as Rush, it's sad but true; he's run his course in Indiana. The Pacers have nearly dealt him twice before. The sooner they cut ties, the better. It clears the rotation and installs Dahntay Jones as the recipient of consistent minutes as the backup shooting guard.
Why the Thunder make this deal: Mullens' path to relevancy in Oklahoma City is blocked by major investments in Kendrick Perkins and Cole Aldrich. In other words, the Thunder are better off moving Mullens now than wasting him for years on the bench. In Maynor's case, he's the backup point of the present, yes, but it is widely believed he won't be the backup point of tommorrow. Not because they don't like him; they do. It's just you can't keep everybody, and Maynor is expected to be a player the Thunder lose for financial reasons. Trading Maynor turns him into another asset. And Rush is an asset insofar as the former Jayhawk is a career 40 percent shooter from three. The Thunder need long-range shooting to spread the floor. As John Hollinger reported last week, OKC will be looking to upgrade at the wing spot over Daequan Cook. Rush is a better marksman than Cook, easy.
Sam Presti, Larry Bird. Larry Bird, Sam Presti. And for those wondering, yes, the trade works financially, courtesy of the fact-checker known as the ESPN.com Trade Machine.