After a brief, 51-game stayover with the Pacers, Torrey Craig has been traded to the team where he finished last season, returning to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Jalen Smith and a future second-round pick, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarwoski.
Unready to contribute on a contender and often playing out of position, Smith has only appeared in 29 games for the Suns this season, but the 6-foot-10, 215-pound center in a four-man’s body averaged 9.7 points and 8.1 rebounds over an 11-game stretch in January, including snatching 14 rebounds against the Pacers, when DeAndre Ayton, Jae Crowder, and JaVale McGee were each in health and safety protocols at various stints. Smith, who was the 10th overall pick in the 2020 draft, didn’t have his third-year option picked up by the Suns, which means he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, perhaps with opportunity to show potential in a new environment.
According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, Smith received plenty of interest around the league before ultimately remaining with the Pacers, who already have Myles Turner, Goga Bitadze, Isaiah Jackson, Terry Taylor, and (potentially) Tristan Thompson as players available to function as bigs in the rotation. Craig, meanwhile, who was signed to a two-year contract last offseason to defend against bigger wings while T.J. Warren was out, no longer fits the timeline for the Pacers, who seem to be veering toward a rebuild.
With Smith available to defend and rebound at the five, there is even less reason for Thompson to soak up minutes, regardless of if he is bought out.
For the week, Indiana scooped up Cleveland’s 2022 protected first-round pick, Houston’s 2022 second-round pick, Utah’s 2027 second-round pick, Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Tristan Thompson, Jalen Smith, Ricky Rubio’s expiring contract, and a future second-round pick from Phoenix in exchange for Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, Torrey Craig, and a 2022 second-round pick via Miami.
Because Smith’s option was already declined, Indiana won’t be able to offer him more than the amount of the option ($4.6M) this summer.