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Pacers make strong push for Thunder’s Jackson, ultimately stand pat at NBA trade deadline

Brandon Curry

The Indiana Pacers didn’t make any deals before the NBA trade deadline came to an end on Thursday. After being rumored to be in the running for Phoenix guard Goran Dragic, Denver guard Ty Lawson and Oklahoma City guard Reggie Jackson, the Pacers will enter the final 28 games of their season with the same roster — and possibly the addition of Paul George next month.

The Pacers currently sit in 12th in the Eastern Conference, two games behind the Miami Heat, who as of now, are residing in the final playoff spot. Miami, and other teams the Pacers are looking up to in the standings, made moves on Thursday and appear to have upgraded their rosters.

Miami aquired Dragic, a player the Pacers have long had eyes for, without losing any part of their core. The Boston Celtics, a half a game ahead of the Pacers, jumped in on the ripple effect that Dragic’s trade demand produced and received Phoenix guard Isaiah Thomas for Marcus Thornton and a draft pick. Jackson, who the Pacers had talks with Oklahoma City about on Thursday, according to Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski, was sent to the Detroit Pistons, who have the same record as the Pacers.

After all of that, the Pacers are the only team of the six gunning for the final two playoff spots in the East who didn’t make a move.

With that being said, the Pacers also didn’t have much to offer if the playoffs are truly a goal of theirs. And if they are, reaching them would likely require to keep the core of George Hill, David West and Roy Hibbert together for at least this season. That leaves little for Larry Bird and Co. to work with (their fault, yes) outside of their own first-round pick in 2015. But surrendering that asset for a marginal piece at the deadline usually leads teams down dangerous paths as history has shown us.

The potential return of George next month continues to be one of the more interesting story lines now that the deadline has passed. There are more questions there than definitive answers, though. For one, is the March date that’s been floating around actually realistic? If it is, how quickly can he contribute or at least begin showing flashes of the old Paul George? A mid-March return would give George about a month’s worth of games before the end of the season and a possible trip to the playoffs for the Pacers.

Being optimistic about George returning to peak George levels by the end of this season doesn’t seem wise. But we’ll see.

Finally, if the Pacers do miss out on the playoffs, that valuable draft pick could turn out to be better than any potential trade they could’ve made on Thursday.

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