As previously noted, Larry Bird didn’t open the check book for free agents this offseason. Sticking to that strategy, he was unable to do much aside from signing one starter, David West, and re-signing one key reserve, Jeff Foster.
Among other non-happenings, Bird missed out on Nene, Tyson Chandler, Marc Gasol, Thaddeus Young, Jamal Crawford, Shane Battier and Caron Butler. Additionally he let Mike Dunleavy and TJ Ford walk, and did the same with Josh McRoberts rather than pushing harder to include him in the much-bandied-about sign-and-trade deal to acquire OJ Mayo from the Grizzlies.
In many people’s opinion, however, this is a good thing. This year’s free agent market wasn’t as over-inflated as it normally is, but that’s likely because there just wasn’t really anything other than role players and flawed pieces available. A few guys did get way too much money (shout out to Kwame) and Bird was unwilling to out-bid his competition for the few guys he did reportedly have real interest in.
Tom Ziller praised the Legend for this approach, listing the Pacers among his “winners” of free agency.
The Pacers had the rare sane, successful offseason while overpaying for no one. Indiana picked up David West on a reasonable two-year deal, providing a huge upgrade at power forward and putting Tyler Hansbrough in a back-up role he’s more suited to play. The team also retained the valuable if under-recognized Jeff Foster. But the best decisions Indiana made were knowing when to say when no on Nene and Jamal Crawford. Each pushed their price upward with multiple teams in hot pursuit; the Pacers bowed out before the market reached its apex in both cases. Perhaps the team won’t improve as much as fans would like in 2011-12, but in the long run, skipping those contracts will likely work out just fine.
All this plus Bird got George Hill in the draft.
As Ziller notes, fans will likely be someone unfulfilled going into this season given their tendency to primally lust after free agent signings. But it’s quite likely that they will feel much better about 2013 and 2014 due to the fiscal discipline Indiana showed this offseason.