Pacers acquire Rakeem Christmas from the Cavaliers

The Indiana Pacers traded a 2019 second-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday in exchange for forward Rakeem Christmas.

Christmas (behind coach Frank Vogel) attended the Pacers' first pre-draft workout in May.

Christmas (behind coach Frank Vogel) attended the Pacers’ first pre-draft workout in May.

The 6-foot-10, 243-pound forward was selected 36th overall in June’s draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who then sent his rights to the Cavaliers.

“We really liked Rakeem when he came in for pre-draft workouts,” Pacers President Larry Bird said in a news release. “He is a solid player who was a contributor all four years at Syracuse and we look forward to having him on our team.”

Christmas was part of the team’s first pre-draft workout on May 18th right after the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, which meant something to the 23-year-old.

“He is extremely excited to be with Indiana,” Christmas’ agent, Stephen Pina, told VigilantSports.com. “… He’s relieved to have a home.”

Christmas, a four-year player out of Syracuse University, did not have a deal in place with the Cavaliers, who are working to fill their championship-contending roster with veteran pieces. Trade conversations between the two teams had been ongoing this week with things heating up over the last 24 hours.

The Pacers are still working to finalize a deal with Christmas. It will likely be similar to what Joe Young, the team’s second-round pick received — a four-year deal with the first two years guaranteed. Christmas is flying to Indianapolis this weekend and is expected to sign his first NBA deal on Monday.

“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.

“It’s just the way it is. They play zone in games and they play man a lot in practice. But Christmas had a great year. He improved his post moves. He’s a rim protector, a good rebounder, he’s long. He’s not the tallest guy as a five. But he runs the floor, and I think he performed at a really high level in the Combine and opened a lot of eyes even further that had been opened during the season.”

Pina said Christmas, who grew up in the Virgin Islands, isn’t concerned with the number of bigs already on the Pacers’ roster.

“He’s just going to come in and compete,” Pina said. “They obviously believe in him enough to make a trade.”

In four Summer League games with the Cavaliers in Las Vegas, Christmas averaged 8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds per game and shot 7-of-21 from the floor.

The 2019 second-round pick sent away to the Cavs was the Los Angeles Lakers’ pick that the Pacers received earlier this month for Roy Hibbert.

With the addition of Christmas, the Pacers have one roster spot (of 15) available.

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