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Trade could boost Pacers


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By the time the Indiana Pacers pick in tonight’s NBA Draft, it might be that only those west of the Mississippi River — correction, Nevada — are tuned in.

Unless Larry Bird works a trade.

The Pacers are slated to select 57th, which means new NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, not Adam Silver, is who’ll be parked behind the microphone at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

They only get Silver’s gold if Larry Bird works a trade.

Just so you know, the past five No. 57 choices in previous NBA Drafts were Emir Preldzic (2009), Ryan Reid (2010), Tanguy Ngombo (2011), Ilkan Karaman (2012) and Alex Oriakhi (2013).

Welcome to the Trivial Pursuit’s “I’ve Never Heard of Any of These Guys” edition.

Speaking of which, one mock draft I observed had Indiana plucking 7-foot-1 Alec Brown out of Wisconsin-Green Bay with its pick. Another had the franchise taking 6-10 New Mexico power forward Cameron Bairstow.

Please, Larry Bird, work a trade.

This isn’t to suggest Brown, Bairstow or any other Pacers selection couldn’t eventually develop into a worthy NBA contributor.

At the same time, I’m not sure the franchise can afford to wait.

Back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances demonstrate how close Indiana is to finally grabbing the brass ring, but it badly needs another veteran presence.

A respected voice in the locker room other than that of 33-year-old forward David West who can corral the emotions and minimize the inconsistencies of Paul George, George Hill and towering enigma Roy Hibbert.

Someone who can persuade Lance Stephenson to stop acting like, well, Lance Stephenson. That is if the 6-5 guard/forward, a free agent himself, even elects to return to the Pacers.

Bird doesn’t have Monopoly money to play with like some other franchises this offseason, so it promises to be an intriguing few hours.

Could it be that Silver at some point early this evening blurts, “We have a trade ... the Indiana Pacers ....”

It’s at this point we hold our breath.

It would be completely understandable to think Bird might be apprehensive to work the phones after the Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum disasters of this past season.

Don’t bank on it. This is not a guy known for passing up open looks.

Bird won three NBA championships as a player and desperately wants one for his home state. His sole basketball mission at this stage of his life is to make the Indiana Pacers roster as good as it can possibly be at all times.

Should the Big Three decide to remain in Miami and the Chicago Bulls reel in free agent Carmelo Anthony as has been rumored, the Pacers’ might find themselves projected as the East’s third- or fourth-best team entering the 2014-15 season.

An NBA Finals long shot unceremoniously lumped in with the likes of Atlanta, Toronto and Brooklyn.

We don’t often hear this in professional sports, but these Indiana Pacers need to get older, not younger.

And it all hinges upon whether Bird works a trade — preferably for a player who, like Bird in his playing prime, packs a consistently effective long-range jump shot.

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. Send comments to mbeas@dailyjournal.net.

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