Indiana Pacers have been frequently linked with Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio this offseason as Darren Collison hits free agency. Rubio is set to depart Utah this summer with the Jazz having made a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies to acquire Mike Conley.
Indiana are in a similar spot to the Jazz, looking for a primary ball handler to partner their dynamic young shooting guard. Donovan Mitchell will be joined by Conley, but it remains uncertain who will be partnering Victor Oladipo when he returns from injury.
Rubio is the favourite at the moment, but he might not be the best option. Here are three alternatives…
D’Angelo Russell is a target for the Pacers, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Russell will attract attention from around the league, including Minnesota, Phoenix and Orlando, all of whom have point guard issues to solve.
As a restricted free agent, there’s obviously uncertainty about how available Russell is, and it will directly link to Kyrie Irving’s free agency decision, such is the domino effect of the NBA.
Russell, unlike Rubio, is a scorer, which would ease the burden on Oladipo. He’s not the same level of passer as the Utah man, but he’s competent and would slot nicely into Indiana’s pick-and-roll heavy offence. Few players were the ball handler in pick and rolls as often as Russell last season.
His defence is a glaring issue, however. While Rubio is elite, Russell can all too often be a liability. The Pacers have the defensive talent to hide him a bit, but it’s an obvious concern for any suitor.
There will be no max deal for Patrick Beverley, but the Clippers point guard is expected to get paid this offseason. Unlike Russell, Beverley would add yet more defensive prowess to this very solid Pacers unit. His length and toughness make him a challenging matchup capable of switching up a position or two if required.
Having shot just a shade under 40% from three last season, Beverley would help to space the floor in a way that Rubio would not. He’s comfortable playing off the ball and would share the ball-handling duties with Oladipo.
Averaging just 7.6 points per game last season, though, Beverley won’t make Oladipo’s life much easier in the postseason, which could put the Pacers off making a move.
The Los Angeles Lakers will consider re-signing Rajon Rondo this offseason, according to Brad Turner. However, the Lakers’ plans are still unclear and they may well not have sufficient cap space to lure Rondo back to Staples Center.
The former Pelican has never been a scorer, but is one of the league’s best facilitators, averaging 8.5 assists per game for his career. His perimeter shooting has improved in recent years, and while it’s still below Russell and Beverley, he’s more efficient from deep than Rubio was in the second half of 2018/19.
Rondo will be in the mid-thirties on three-point percentage and create plenty open looks for teammates. He was a great defender, but those days are behind him.
This move would only really make sense if it indicates a change in approach for Indiana, and they opt to invest heavily in a wing. Or, perhaps, they bring Rondo in and re-sign Collison to share point guard minutes.