Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reported Wednesday that the Pacers have agreed to a sign-and-trade deal with the Dallas Mavericks that will send point guard Darren Collison and defensive-minded wing Dahntay Jones to Texas in exchange for center Ian Mahinmi, who will receive a new four-year, $16 million deal to join Frank Vogel's squad. Shortly after Givony's tweet, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports followed up with one of his own, reporting that Indiana is also talking trade with the Charlotte Bobcats, with their sights set on restricted free agent point guard D.J. Augustin.
Just what motivated Indiana's moves remains somewhat unclear. On the surface, one might consider the trade as part of a cost-cutting measure necessitated by the financial consequences of retaining Hibbert with a new four-year, $58 million deal. But moving Collison (two years left at $5.66 million) and Jones (one year at $2.9 million) doesn't really open up cap space when you're going to be paying Mahinmi $4 million per year for the next four years. In fact, the move appears to keep the Pacers right near (if not just over) the $58.044 million salary cap, though still under the $70.3 million luxury tax introduced as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.
While his statistics dipped last season after a strong first two seasons out of UCLA, the 24-year-old Collison has proven himself to be a serviceable NBA point guard and a player who appeared to be part of the Pacers' future plans coming off an impressive 2011-12 postseason that saw him shoot better than 50 percent from the floor, post a 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and lead Indiana in Player Efficiency Rating (albeit in limited minutes).
Augustin played in only 48 games for the hapless Bobcats during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign due to toe and knee injuries, seeing his minutes and scoring productivity drop as Charlotte took a long look at rookie guard Kemba Walker. The idea behind bringing him to Indiana might be to provide more scoring punch in the Pacer backcourt than Collison provides, but because he's only under contract for one more year on a $4.8 qualifying offer that Charlotte tendered before the start of free agency, it's possible that the Pacers brass just sees him as a short-term trial solution.
Regardless, the Pacers have moved one of their key guards in Collison and a solid defender in Jones in exchange for a backup center. Meanwhile, Dallas has added some depth in the backcourt, which they desperately needed after losing both Jason Terry and Jason Kidd to free agency.