The NBA is back. And the Pacers are about to shake up their roster somehow.
Whether that means signing the likes of Marc Gasol, Nene, David West, Jamal Crawford or using the luxury of cap space to make a trade, it is certain that something interesting involving the Pacers WILL GO DOWN in the next few weeks. In fact, the Pacers are so far below the salary cap that they figure to be involved in almost every rumor we hear about (see: Rondo, Rajon) regardless of the likelihood of any deal materializing. Due to the fact that the new CBA is expected to retain the same silly salary-matching restrictions for trades involving any team over the cap, Indiana is in the enviable position to help facilitate any major deal as a third party.
There are many course of action the team could take. Word from Mike Wells of the Indy Star, and others, is that the team is interested in Nene but doesn’t want to overpay (which some team almost certainly will) but squeamish on David West given the fact that he is 31 and recently removed from ACL surgery and the Pacers won’t be real Eastern Conference Finals contenders for at least another few years. (Although some people think the West injury risk trope is overblown.) Additionally, Wells has reported that the “Pacers are more likely to make trades then spend a lot of money on free agents,” because they don’t want to overspend.
Of course, there are also question marks regarding the guys already on the roster. Who starts at point: incumbent Darren Collison or NBA champion George Hill? Can Tyler Hansbrough be a starting power forward in this league if team head honcho Larry Bird doesn’t acquire a more-proven big man? Will the Pacers use their “amnesty” (a clause in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will allow each team to dump one player’s salary from being included on their cap) on Dahntay Jones?
Lastly, what will the schedule look like? We know that teams will have between one and three back-to-back-to-back playing nights — among other logistically complicated/grueling scenarios — on their itinerary this season. Will the Pacers be favored or worse off compared to their peers?
As we enter this stretch of the unknown, there are many more questions than certainties. But the only question that truly matters — will Indiana play basketball this year? — does have a definitive answer: yes. So until something bad happens, just be happy the team is back.
Additionally, Bird and GM David Morway are holding a press conference in a bout 20 minutes. So perhaps they will have a few more answers for us.