The Indiana Pacers Approach the Trade Deadline – Part 1

With the trade deadline fast approaching, I’d like to run a quick series of articles to look more closely at some of the names being bandied about and how they’d fit in with the current Pacers’ roster.  Let’s start off by identifying some of my underlying assumptions and the holes I see on the current roster.

Assumptions

1. The Pacers (and probably not any other team in the East) are not going to defeat Miami or Chicago in a playoff series.

Let’s face it, the gap between the Bulls, the Heat, and the rest of the Eastern Conference (or the NBA outside the state of Oklahoma) is insurmountable barring some unforeseen cataclysmic happenstance.  Any realistic season goals for the Pacers are going to stop at winning a first round playoff series, continuing to evaluate the talent on hand, watching that talent develop, and somehow divining a way to move past also-ran status.

2. The Pacers will not make a major move and cannot afford to trade talent for talent.

Keeping the above in mind, the team needs to figure out how to improve without sending out much more than picks and cap space.  Since, as Jared referenced yesterday, the starting lineup is playing at an elite level, and George Hill has been pretty great as well, it seems unlikely that the Pacers will be able to improve upon any of the top 6 spots in their rotation.

3. Depth is good, especially if Frank Vogel is your coach.

So far this season, Vogel seems intent upon using a 10 man rotation with clearly defined positional roles.  It’s hard to know if this is his true preference or a tactic for dealing with a condensed season. Since it’s been his M.O. so far, it would seem that a way forward would be to improve the 7-10 spots on the roster.

4. I am not a GM, and neither are you.

NBA decision-makers, thankfully, operate in a different realm than even the most rabid fans. You and I have no idea what it would take to pry Rajon Rondo away from Boston.  I refuse to speculate on such things. I will not even speculate on what it would take to get any of the players I discuss in future columns. Instead, I will focus on the player and the fit with the roster and leave the trade negotiations to someone else.

Roster Holes

I’m not going to do a complete analysis here.  I’ll just point out, rather quickly, the types of players I think we should be looking for.  This will necessitate a bit of discussion of current players, but, in most instances, I’d like to shy away from saying things like “Player X needs to be replaced/upgraded.” These are presented in no particular order (other than the order they’re in):

1. A big who can do two of the following four things: facilitate the offense, score, block shots, play above average on-ball defense.

Of course, the Pacers have one of these guys (Jeff Foster – excellent defender, screener, and passer) who dresses in a suit nearly ever game.  Neither Lou Amundson nor Tyler Hansbrough can do more than one of these things. Of the four mentioned skills, facilitation may be the most important and noticeably missed. Roy Hibbert and David West are both good passing bigs and our guards get a lot of good looks because of their abilities.  Foster’s ability to facilitate is the reason that our offense does not noticeably suffer when he enters the game.

2. A back-up small forward.

One of the under-mentioned issues for the Pacers this year is that there are only two SF’s on the roster (and one of them is the starting SG). Dahntay Jones has been impersonating one, but when it comes down to it, he’s a 6’5” defensive specialist who’s most memorable performance was turned in guarding Chris Paul during a playoff series. When matched with a big SF, Jones gets overpowered quite easily. When looking at possible playoff opponents, you have to consider the idea that Jones will be asked to guard guys like Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Hedo Turkoglu, Joe Johnson, and Andre Iguodala – all of whom are bigger and stronger than him. When you combine this with Jones’s atrocious defensive numbers – only Jeff Pendergraph (127) has a worse defensive rating than Jones (104.6) – you begin to see some definite room for improvement.

3. A shot-maker/creator.

This guy can be at any position.  George Hill is the only bench player who is currently putting any pressure on opposing defenses. Whether help comes in the form of a drive-and-kick PG or a back-to-the-basket big man, it doesn’t matter.  There needs to be someone else off the bench whom opposing teams worry about.

That’s all for now.  I’d love for this process to be a bit interactive, so if there’s a player who’s rumored to be available and is realistically acquirable, let me know in the comment section and I’ll take a look at them and let you know my opinion.

Topics: Possible Deals

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  • richard

    jamal crawford, andre blatche

  • http://twitter.com/excitedstate excitedstate

    Ersan Ilyasova is a name that’s been out there and that I’ve had my eye on for awhile, even before his recent rebounding explosion. He’s an impending free agent who has said that he’ll follow the money next year, including to Europe. Don’t know what the Bucks think they’ll get for him. Would it take draft picks? Taking back another of Milwaukee’s overpaid players?

  • Jason

    Jones for Beasley.

  • Rob

    What about bringing back Stephen Jackson at the backup SF? He’s seemed to matured since his previous tenure with the team and has been willing to buy into his role with Milwaukee. We have all seen what he can do and if he could take Jones’ minutes with the 2nd group. I think he still has some left in the tank, especially in a reserve role playing 20-25 minutes a game.

  • Bryce

    There has been an ongoing rumor that the warriors are willing to part ways with Monta Ellis.. What about a trade involving granger for ellis.. This would then give the pacers their scorer who can create his own shot outside of hill and P George is starting to get there. This would also help move Paul to his natural SF position. I know some people won’t like it cuz Ellis is considered a ballhog at times but I think people would warm up to the fact that he could drop 40 any night.

  • christopher vargas

    Did this guy justest he wants jax back? Uuuuuuhhhhhhggggg! I say stand pat….build on what you have this team is still young and they will come together….draft a lights out shooter in the draft next year, get some more play-off experience this year, and pick up a big man in free agency to back up big Roy next year…just because we lost to Chicago and Atlanta back to back does not mean it is time to panic we will be fine just don’t screw this thing up by trading for jax, domino sessions ect.

  • redmid17

    I’d trade Hansbrough for an empty roster spot. Seriously though we can package him with a future pick can’t we?

  • Rob

    @ Christopher. Definitely did. I originally thought he was an expiring deal and we could swap Jones for him and if it doesn’t work out then be done but he actually has 2 years. The only time the 2nd unit looks decent is if Tyler or AJ are hitting from outside. The bench needs more scoring, period.

  • Rob

    @ Christopher. Definitely did. I originally thought he was an expiring deal and we could swap Jones for him and if it doesn’t work out then be done but he actually has 2 years. Still need bench scoring.

  • atc

    Boris Diaw could fill the facilitating/scoring big need, is expiring so it would help preserve the 2012-2013 cap space (which I believe the Pacers feel is important to preserve) and likely can be had for nearly nothing (given his trade request and Paul Silas’ comments).

    Andre Miller is likely available and an expiring. Would be nice either off the bench with George Hill or with the starters. Denver also has Jordan Hamilton who – although there’s a limited sample size – might be able to fill the backup SG-SF / shot creator role eventually.

    @excitedstate …. Unfortunately Ersan blowing up recently probably makes that difficult if the Bucks still feel they’re in playoff contention. If they would consider trading him, it’d likely take both our 2012 pick and taking back a contract (Jackson, Gooden or Mbah a Moute).

    @Rob …. The problem with Jackson is he’s owed $10 million next season and has been talking all season about wanting an extension. I tend to think the Pacers value preserving that cap space above what Jackson could provide.

  • http://twitter.com/excitedstate excitedstate

    @atc I did see an article on Ball Don’t Lie stating that the Bucks would prefer to trade Ilyasova rather than lose him for nothing. Whether the Pacers would give them enough to make it worth their while is a separate question.

  • Donald

    @bryce PG is not strong enough yet for nba small forwards, He’s young, I believe he’ll keep hitting the weights, but not yet.

    Ilyasova would be a guy I’d like to get if we were willing to show him the money to keep him.

    Portland would be a trading partner I would look to. Currently they are seeded 10th in the west on the outside looking in and are underutilizing both Gerald Wallace and Jamal Crawford. Both are overpaid this year, and next but then would come off our books. So if we’re not attempting to be an also ran in the current year or next year we could possibly add a quality pro. Would they possibly part with a younger player too for a trade exception and a draft pick? maybe.

  • adam

    Josh Smith wants out. I’ll take him if he doesn’t mind coming off the bench (although, we’d be paying a lot for a bench player.) we have the cash, or we can throw in TH to sweeten the pot.

  • http://jtshoopsblog.blogspot.com JT’s Hoops Blog

    You know who would be the best to trade? Danny Granger. The man is so innefficient offensive scoring 18ppg and only shooting .390. he’s taking away much needed touches from Roy Hibbert and David West. How about a swap with Philly for Andre Igoudala? Maybe to the Spurs for Richard Jefferson? How about to the pistons for Ben Gordon? those are just a few of the ideas swirling in my head.

  • Troy

    I am still trying to figure out why we got rid of Brandon Rush? Rush could play the 2 or 3 position. Lou is a poor man Foster. I think we need to save our money for a few reasons. 1. I think we should push hard to get Eric Gordon. I would love to see Eric come off the Bench, kind of like what Harden is doing for OKC. 2. We need to sign Roy to a long term deal. Roy has continued to show improvement every year with the Pacers and I think he will continue to get better. I would not mind seeing us get another big and a pure shooter. They only problem is these guys are not easy to find. I don’t know how much the Pacers would have to give to get someone like Nicolas Batum from Portland, but he would be an excellent fit with the pacers. He is young a SF, decent scorer and pretty cheap. When it comes to bigs they are just hard to find. I see a lot about Kaman, I would like it, but i feel we would have to give up to much. I know he has tone on his contract, but I believe its expiring after this years, so we could get rid of him if he wants to much. I’m with Jeremy here I don’t think we need to do anything that will hurt our long term future and I think Kman might just do that. If we could pull something for Batum that would be a great fit. I saw that Solmon Jones is being sent back to D league I think he would be a awsome to take a stab at. He was playing pretty well for the Hornets.

  • adam

    Rush’s off the court problems got him the axe. After his twitter argument with a fan over the lockout, Bird had enough. He only wants guys with good images and no off court drama.

  • Logan

    I know he’s not been rumored to be on the market but I’d love to see Brandon Jennings in a Pacers uniform. Maybe trade Granger and a few other pieces to the Bucks to make this happen

  • Chris D.

    “… it seems unlikely that the Pacers will be able to improve upon any of the top 6 spots in their rotation.”

    What? Until we get a reliable game changer on the roster, we can improve at any of the positions. This squad does not play anywhere near the level of the team that rioted at the Palace. We don’t have a singe player as good as the player-formerly-known-as-Ron-Artest was in his Pacer prime. Not even close.

  • stupid

    what a waste! PG who can run an offense, then worry about whatever crap youre talking about

  • CAM

    I agree that we should look at getting Eric G. from the Hornets. Let Granger head home to NO and bring back Kaman, EG and even Ariza. We can throw in whatever makes the math work. I am suspecting Bird has looked at this but probably doesn’t want to let Danny leave, but I agree that his SP is way too low and a big reason we dwell in the cellar of the league in assists.

  • JRC

    @Troy: Do you really think that Brandon Rush would be that helpful. He was as about as consistent as Hansbrough (although, more capable, admittedly) offensively. When he was actually “on” his offensive punch was nice, but more often than not, he was “off”. Plus, he was a defensive liability more often than not. Add in his off court shenanigans, and I don’t really miss him much. I’m glad he’s doing better in GS, and I think that system fits him better.

  • Realist

    Plus after we let mcbob and solo go, we needed some backup bigs. The Lou for rush deal was fine.

    As frustrating as this team can be, they’ve only had 40 or so games together. I don’t mind if we stand pat. Have faith in Bird, he knows what he’s doing.

  • Nathan

    The Biggest mistake by the Pacers was letting McRoberts go. He had such a high motor and he seemed to make Tyler H better. He always played well against the Bulls and he could hit the three, post up, rebound, or just out-hustle someone. I think we let him go and then realized how dumb that was and tried to get a replacement (Amundson) and he is not nearly as athletic or as good of an offensive player. There are still other issues but I think we would feel much better about our bigs right now if we had kept him. As for right now, if you can get a guy like Kaman or Crawford without giving up a 1st round pick than go for it but if not, stand pat and don’t give up that cap space. We’ll need it to resign Roy and Hill and hopefully get someone else.

  • Troy

    I read on bleacher report Pacers are going hard for 2 people right now Jamal Crawford and Kris Kaman. They would have already pulled the trigger on Crawford, but Portland wants a first rounder and Aj Price. Pacers are fine with getting rid of Aj, but don’t really want to give up the first round pick especially since he can opt. at the end of the year. It could end up being a 30 game rental. The pacers have the cap space to get both could potentially come off the books next year, Kman for sure. If the pacers could get these two and hold onto their first round picks and not get rid of any major pieces I would be all for it, but I am also content with this team and adding more for next year Eric Gordon!!!!!!!!!!

  • Donald

    Standing Pat works for me as well. We do have available cap space so we we could trade a draft pick (second round?), cash, etc. to a team looking to bring their bottom line down and won’t be making the playoffs. A deal with no players outgoing to bring in a Kaman, or a Gerald Wallace; a vet who can fill a need. I don’t want to make a move to make a move. Miami has a window or they’ll start running into the huge luxury tax range. I dunno but I have to think Chicago has a window too. OKC’s window is about as long as rookie contracts.

    Small moves, save the cash, try to get beneficial Free Agents.

  • IU

    I also think eric gordan would fit perfect on this team. He would be the go to scorer we desperately need. I don’t agree with him off the bench though, he would start over pg

  • IU

    Gordon*

  • Evan

    Would anybody be opposed to getting Rondo for Collison and a first round pick?? I’m sorry but we need a facilitator and Collison is playing like crap as of late.

  • Matt S

    Can someone ban the next person that suggests trading Danny Granger for a bag of basketballs?

  • Mike

    Matt S – agree. The one player we can generally rely on from night to night – we want to get rid of.

    Just skimming through these comments made me want to vomit. Someone suggested Stephen Jackson. Really? Really? Did you just read the Malice at the Palace story on Grantland a week or so ago? Jackson will never wear an Indiana uniform again. None of the players involved will. We just spent nearly a decade getting over that. He’s washed up. He’s never gotten over that pulled hamstring. I can’t even believe I’m still talking about this.

    Someone else said we need to jump at the chance to get Solomon Jones. Umm. Were you a Pacers fan the last two years? SJones is a player somewhere between Lou and Pendergraph. Garbage time guy. Nothing more.

    I think McBob would be a guy we can use now. I wasn’t a huge fan of him as much of the people on this site were, but looking for an energy big who can score a little and pass… he fits the bill. We didn’t “let him go” though. He ‘got paid’ by LAL.

    All that being said, all I can say is we are weakest at the pg spot right now. DC isn’t a bad player, but he also isn’t leading the team to its full potential. How many elite teams are there with average pgs? Excluding Miami, I can’t think of one. The ball starts with him.

  • eric

    Gordon would be a nice fit, if he could ever stay healthy–dont want to give anything up for him, maybe sign him as a free agent at a realistic level based on his actual playing time. Move Collison to the bench and let Hill run the point, Hansboroughs numbers improve and the defense gets better on the first unit. Get Chris Kaman if we dont have to give anything up. Of all our top 6, I would look for a trade for Granger–need a more consistant, effecient scorer.

    Those are just minor wishes, I am also happy standing pat til next year.

  • dwain

    maybe we could rob China and pick up a Brooks or Marbury?

  • richard

    get kaman an crawford, givn up a first rounder is a good idea, bc what ever rookie we get next wont see that much playing time anyway. and we will still have some cap room to improve for the future.

  • Alan

    Matt and Mike said it best. Granger is our best player and he does a lot more than score. You have to watch the game if you wanna post on this site not just look at the box score. DC is the only one i think we should even consider because he is a good player just not right for this team. I dont want any old guys in a trade (kaman) and i dont want to rent crawford for price.Gordon is injury prone and not worth any player on our starting lineup. I love GWall as a player but he just doesnt fit with this team because he cant come off the bench and neither can PG. It doesnt look like rondo is available sadly because he would complete our starting lineup being able to distribute and guard good point guards with his size and quick hands. I don’t care about giving up the 20th pick in the draft if it for a non injury prone younger bench type player. Josh Smith is sweet but again he cant be on the bench so he wont fit. Seriously if we cant get Rondo its all good we can stay put i mean we are 9 games over going to miami and we can just see what we can do in the offseason

    To the insane and or mentally retarded people who want Rush and Capt Jack SMH!