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Cavs Deal St. Croix’s Rakeem Christmas to Pacers For 2nd Round Draft Pick

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 Rakeem Christmas on draft day 2015

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers made a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday to send a 2019 second round pick in exchange for St. Croix’s Rakeem Christmas.

Christmas, a 6-9 forward, played four seasons at Syracuse and averaged 7.8 points and 5.6 rebounds over his career. In May, Christmas participated in the first Pacers’ pre-draft workout as a potential second-round pick. On draft night, the Minnesota Timberwolves chose Christmas with the No. 36 selection and traded his rights to Cleveland.

“We really liked Rakeem when he came in for pre-draft workouts,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird in a press 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.”

With Christmas, the Pacers currently have six bigs (players who could fulfill the power forward and/or center positions) on the roster, including Lavoy Allen, Jordan Hill, Ian Mahinmi, Myles Turner and Shayne Whittington.

The logjam of bigs just may signal the Pacers’ plans to utilize the NBA Development League team Fort Wayne Mad Ants to help advance younger players.

Among this crop, Whittington, a second-year forward/center, has agreed to a two-year deal with the Pacers with the first year fully guaranteed. During his rookie year, Whittington made a late season trip to Fort Wayne and also appeared in 20 NBA games.

Whittington averaged 2.9 points and 1.0 rebounds in limited time on the court – he not only played behind four veterans but also began the year while recovering from a broken fibula in his left leg.

During the Nov. 14 blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets, Whittington logged a season-high 12 minutes. However recently at the Orlando summer league, Whittington played more than 20 minutes of real basketball action for the first time in over a year and averaged 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games.

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