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Miles Turner has a year on the job, and if the Lakers aren’t keen, another team will trade for him.

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The Los Angeles Lakers I spent months resisting attraction Indiana Pacers Miles Turner Center. They’ve spilled interest in every star from Kyrie Irving to Bradley Beal since then, but despite a long-running offer from Indiana, they’ve refused to concede two unprotected first-round picks to touchdowns on Turner and Buddy Hield. Every report in the meantime suggests their preference is to wait for a star, but the irony here is that in about a month of basketball, Turner plays like one.

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After years of sharing the center field at Indiana with Domantas Sabonis, Turner thrived with it all to himself. He never averaged 15 points per game in his first seven seasons as a Pacer. He’s hit a career best 17.9 so far this season. His 8.7 rebounds per game is also a career high, and with the exception of Jaren Jackson Jr., who only played one game, Turner’s 3.1 blocks per game leads the NBA. To top it all off, his True Shooting Percentage of 65.6 is also the best of his career. You can credibly argue that Turner hits his best scoring, defense and rebounding goals all at once.

These are all traits that would serve the Lakers well. They are the worst shooting team in the NBA, and only Max Christie and Matt Ryan shoot better than Turner at 37 percent depth. They’re 26th in rebounding rate, indicating the desperate need for another big man, and after starting the season hot on defense, they’ve allowed 116.3 points per 100 possessions in their last eight games, which ranks 28th in the NBA in that time period. He may not have an All-Star selection under his belt, but Turner theoretically fits exactly what the Lakers need. And he knows it. He’s basically introduced himself to Los Angeles at “The Woj Pod” lately.

“If I were the Lakers, I take a hard look at this with the position you’re in and I know I can offer the team my leadership, my shot blocking, my 3-point ability and my ability to just make plays right there on the floor,” he said. Turner said. “I was going to take a very long look at that.”

Turner is very aware of how basketball works. He’s on an expired contract. The Pacers are rebuilding themselves and have a young senior in Isaiah Jackson earning more minutes quickly. In all likelihood, they won’t be the team to give him a long-term contract this off-season. For the past several months, the Lakers have been seen as the most likely replacement. But the longer Turner plays like this, the more likely it is that someone will swoop in and kidnap him. Rumors are already linking him to their competitors.

Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus reported on Tuesday that clippers, who played a small role for the most part this season following the departure of free agent Isiah Hartenstein, is interested in Turner. The networks And the swans They’ve both been rumored to be Turner homes in the past, too, and on paper, they’re a perfect fit. In Ben Simmons and Zion Williamson, they both have unconventional shooters in positions other than center, so Turner can strengthen the defense behind them while providing the distances they don’t have. This principle can apply to almost any team. Who wouldn’t want an outstanding defensive center who also does 3-point work?

Lakers, it seems, but they are running out of time to change their minds. This is not to say that the Pacers are rushing to make a deal. They would certainly prefer to trade to the Lakers given the value of their draft picks. LeBron James will turn 38 in December. Trading first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 means getting picks when James is in his mid-40s and likely retires. Other teams may be able to field more picks, but these Lakers draft picks have the best chance of any available draft picks landing at the top of the draft (except, ironically, the Lakers picks already owned by the Pelicans). In a perfect world, Indiana would probably like to send Turner to the Lakers.

But they won’t wait forever. Turner has a long history of injury, and the longer they stick to it, the higher the risk that they won’t be able to handle it at all. If he continues to play well, other teams’ performances will only increase. The Lakers have no way of increasing their bid in a potential bidding war. They have two options that can be traded legally. It’s just a matter of whether or not they provide it.

They haven’t done that yet. They may never do that. But if they don’t, Turner’s stellar season suggests the Pacers won’t have much trouble finding another dealer. If the Lakers don’t make a deal soon, they could lose their chance.

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