Saturday, June 3

Ex-OU star Buddy Hield makes the NBA with trade from Kings to Pacers

Three months after Buddy Hield led OU to the 2016 Final Four, he was drafted by the Pelicans. Hield played 57 games for New Orleans, then was sent to the Sacramento Kings at the trade deadline, in the DeMarcus Cousins deal. 

Five years later, at another trade deadline two weeks ago, the Kings traded Hield to the Indiana Pacers, in the Domantas Sabonis deal. 

All I can say is, hey, Buddy, welcome to the NBA. You finally made it. 

Hield is undergoing culture shock – the good kind – in his limited time with the Pacers. 

Spending 5½ seasons with New Orleans and Sacramento is a destitute assignment. With apologies to the Timberwolves and Knickerbockers, the Pelicans and Kings are the NBA’s most dysfunctional franchises. 

Now Hield is experiencing what a real NBA franchise is like. Just in time for a showdown game against the Thunder. 

More:Thunder shifts roles for guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey

Indiana Pacers' Buddy Hield gestures after making a shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Milwaukee.

OKC plays at Indiana on Friday night in a huge game for the lottery. The rebuilding Pacers are 20-40; the rebuilding Thunder is 18-41. An Indiana victory means OKC would have the inside track for the fourth-best lottery odds for the 2022 NBA Draft. A Thunder victory would make it a horse race for those No. 4 odds. 

You know how you’re always taught to look at the loss column when analyzing standings? That’s because winning teams win more than they lose. But when you turn the standings upside down, like we do for the lottery, you should focus on the wins, because losing teams lose more often. The Thunder is two wins behind (ahead of) Indiana; lose Friday night, and that’s a three-win margin.  

But either way, no one expects the Pacers nor the Thunder to stay in lottery land long. And that’s good news for Hield. 

“Hasn’t really hit me,” Hield said the other day as his Pacer adventure was beginning. “I’m excited to be in Indiana. Excited for the opportunity.” 

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