Since the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that raised the financial penalties for teams that exceed the “luxury tax” salary spending threshold, there has been much speculation about whether or not the Pacers will continue to be willing to spend money on players. Some have even speculated that Larry Bird stepped down as team president because the owner is now prioritizing fiscal responsibility.
Last night didn’t exactly tell us whether or not this is the franchise’s new course. But it did perhaps offer evidence both towards and against that hypothesis.
On the one hand, the Pacers bought second-round draft pick Orlando Johnson from the Sacramento Kings. With straight cash, homie. This willingness to spend in order to acquire a player they liked when they didn’t have a pick illustrates that the team isn’t putting dollars and cents before team building. This seems to contrast the style of other spend thrift teams (like the Phoenix Suns, for example) that have been on the selling end of draft day talent just to save a few bucks.
On the other hand, this may also signal that the team is looking for cheaper options than free agency and trading for veterans to fill out their roster. I can’t claim to know much about Orlando Johnson, but his profile makes it seem like he is a guy the team hopes can play the role of Leandro Barbosa off the bench. And he will be doing it for about 1/14th of Leandro’s salary on an non-guaranteed contract.
Or it might mean nothing.
Really, the only thing it does tell us is that the Pacers now employ one more young player who they like.