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Report: Pacers have ‘expressed interest’ in free agent center Willie Reed

Indiana already has a bevy of reserve bigs, but none of them have the same combination of skills as Reed.

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Per Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, the Indiana Pacers have “expressed interest” in free agent Willie Reed.

The 6-foot-10 reserve center, who averaged 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game for the Miami Heat during the 2016-17 season, impressed on Indiana’s Summer League roster back in 2014 and was reportedly also on the team’s radar last offseason.

Reed’s is not a position of need for the Pacers, but his skill set is arguably a better fit than some of the team’s existing options.

Rather than slowing his team’s pace when he was on the floor like Al Jefferson and Kevin Seraphin did last season, the Miami Heat actually played faster with Reed in the lineup than when he was on the bench. The 27-year-old’s comparative spryness was most noticeable when he was protecting the rim.

Here, with the Heat using him to play a sort of one-man zone in the high paint, Reed manages to slide with Jeremy Lamb for several lateral strides in a low stance before altering the Charlotte guard’s shot by going straight up.

On the season, Reed finished as one of only five backup centers in the league to record a defensive field goal percentage lower than 50 percent, minimum 3.0 field goals attempts defended at the rim per game and 60 games played.

Rakeem Christmas has similar mobility, but he struggles to slow ball handlers out of the pick and roll and he racked up more fouls per 36 minutes (6.1) than Reed (4.8). The latter also finished in the restricted area (69.4%) at a higher clip than the small-ball center in a 6-foot-9 power forward’s body.

Attempting less than 10 percent of his shots outside of 10-feet from the basket, Reed isn’t going to pull opposing big men away from the rim. However, while on the floor, he did grab a slightly higher percentage of his team’s misses (13.5%) than Lavoy Allen (13.3%) did last season, and he shot nearly 60 percent on putbacks. Per Synergy, that mark places him among the top-10 in the league, minimum 1.0 field goal attempt per game and 70 games played.

Granted, acquiring Reed shouldn’t come at the cost of trading away an asset to entice another team to take on Al Jefferson’s albatross of a contract, but there could be an argument for making other less expensive moves to reduce the team’s redundancy at center.

According to Mark Deeks of Sham Sports, Kevin Seraphin’s $1.9 million salary is fully unguaranteed until August 1 and only $50,000 of what Rakeem Christmas is slated to make next is guaranteed until that same date. Not to mention that the Pacers have already declined Lavoy Allen’s team option.

Reed has also garnered interest from the Sixers, Rockets, and Heat.