Rakeem Christmas has yet to take the floor in his rookie season, and has already been traded to his third NBA team. The Indiana Pacers were able to pull off a deal to acquire the rookie forward, and are very excited to have traded for him. He was a target that they had their eyes on in the 2015 NBA Draft, but things didn’t work out to where they were able to pick him.
According to a report from Pacers.com, the Pacers brought Christmas on board from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick.
This is likely the final piece to the Pacers’ trade of Roy Hibbert, as they received a 2019 second-round pick from the Lakers in that deal. Larry Bird has been very busy this offseason, and Christmas could very well fit into the rotation right away. That isn’t something that has been reported, but he is more than capable of playing immediately if necessary according to Jay Bilas.
“He’s mature, and he’s ready to step in and play right away,” ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said before the draft. “I think he’s going to be able to perform man‑to‑man defense. He played zone his whole college career, which is always a question with Syracuse guys.”
Needless to say, adding more front-court depth is something that NBA teams are always looking to do. Being able to acquire a 23-year-old power forward with the athleticism that Christmas possesses at 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds is extremely intriguing. Indiana feels that he is going to be a big part of their future, and are so high on him that they gave him a four-year, $4.5 million contract with two of those years guaranteed.
Expect to see him compete with players like Shayne Whittington and Lavoy Allen for playing time. There isn’t much of a chance for him to work his way into consistent minutes on a nightly basis, but he has the potential to become that player in the next year or two.