The Indiana Pacers have acquired 6-foot-9 forward Rakeem Christmas, the 36th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for the Lakers' 2019 second-round draft pick owned by Indiana, the Pacers announced Thursday:
"We really liked Rakeem when he came in for pre-draft workouts," said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. "He is a solid player who was a contributor all four years at Syracuse and we look forward to having him on our team."
The big man with the 7'5 wingspan averaged 17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks during his senior season at Syracuse. Blocking 8.5% of opponent two-point field goals while on the court, Christmas' block percentage ranked second in the ACC.
Cleveland's second-round draft pick's contributions were modest at the Las Vegas Summer League, where he averaged 8.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. Christmas shot 33.3% from the field while in Vegas, well below his collegiate mark (55.2%) last season.
The former Syracuse center will likely provide rim protection and emergency frontcourt depth for the Indiana Pacers, competing with Lavoy Allen and Shayne Whittington for minutes at the backup power forward position. Paul George is expected to play somewhere between "a few minutes" and "a lot" at the stretch-four position next season.
The Pacers and Rakeem Christmas have reached agreement on a four-year, $4.5 million deal, according to Cavaliers beat reporter Chris Haynes.
In what, thus far, appears to be the gift that keeps on giving, the cap-space and 2019 second-round draft pick acquired by Indiana in exchange for two-time All-Star Roy Hibbert has now aided the team in re-signing Rodney Stuckey and acquiring early second-round pick, Rakeem Christmas.