May 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) guards Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) during the fourth quarter in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Miami 93-90. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

8p9s Roundtable: To Trade or Not to Trade. To Sign or Not to Sign

With Lance Stephenson’s free agency looming and the bitter taste of the 2014 playoffs still lingering, 8 Points, 9 Seconds sits down to talk about the potential roster moves of the Indiana Pacers.

 1. Do the Pacers need to make a trade, or can the run the same starting 5 from this season?

Jalen Bishop: They don’t necessarily need to make a groundbreaking trade but the Pacers cannot send out the same starting five next season. Their identity was steamrolled by Miami and that identity should die and never return. If the NBA is a copycat league, the Pacers will shape an offense similar to this year’s Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns or San Antonio Spurs. Assuming they re-sign Stephenson, a pairing with George should be high paced on offense. If they can’t make a trade at all, and have the same roster as next year, they should get David West to start shooting threes. A lot of them.

Jon Washburn: Well, considering the trades that are probably available, I think the Pacers would be better off to run back the same team. Obviously, I would love to see them flip Roy Hibbert for DeAndre Jordan or George Hill for Ty Lawson – but neither of those trades are really all that profitable – this isn’t NBA 2K where you can do whatever trades you want…you have to give up something to get something. The reality is that the Pacers really were a good team this season until things went South. The Heat aren’t that much better than this team and will be another year older. Even a 5% improvement from Lance Stephenson and Paul George might be enough to get the Pacers over the top. But what if the Heat get Carmelo? Well, that would be lame — but there’s not much the Pacers or anyone else can do in that situation other than hope Wade is as washed up as he looks in these Finals.

Jared Wade: Given their cap situation and the unlikelihood of finding a deal that makes them better for next season, it probably makes the most sense to bring back the starters. I don’t think Roy Hibbert returns much at this point, and George Hill’s salary makes him almost a negative asset. Unless they want to shake things up in a major way to take a step back and build around Paul George, they don’t have a lot of great options.

Ben Gibson: I’d hazard a guess the Pacers will at least start the season with the same starters, but I wouldn’t be shocked if one of them (outside of Paul George) was traded. We saw both the floor and the ceiling of the Pacers last season and the were equally disastrous as one was beautiful. Roy Hibbert’s trade value can’t be great right now, and I don’t think it would get much worse if he starts of the 2014-15 campaign slow. Any team trading for him would be betting on a change of scenery kick-starting Roy again. But maybe an offseason and some time away from the game does the same for Pacers. Maybe they start off the new season with and looking like the team they were October through January. I think with the possible moves in Miami, New York and the rest of the Eastern Conference, Indiana remains in a holding pattern for now.

Will Rettig: The Pacers need to trade. In some way or some form, changes must happen and that starts with trades for Indiana because, fortunately or unfortunately, there are no big-name free agents. Three consecutive defeats at the hands of the Miami Heat screams attention from the front office, and I assume Indy will pull the trigger on a deal.

2. If the Pacers don’t resign Lance Stephenson, who should they consider bringing in?

Bishop: There’s actually a handful of okay players Indiana could sign. This player preferably should be able to spread the floor and dribble off of closeouts. Vince Carter can do that. Jodie Meeks had a breakout season. Xavier Henry played well but injuries stalled his season. Chris Douglas-Roberts has cool hair and can shoot behind the arc. Non shooting guard wise, Indiana should consider strongly consider Anthony Tolliver. He’s a power forward that shoots 40 percent at the three-point line and was a decent defender for Charlotte’s top ten defense.

Washburn: First, the Pacers should resign Lance Stephenson at almost any cost because nobody would come close to replacing his value for the midlevel exception. In the unfortunate event that Lance doesn’t come back, I actually think Evan Turner might be the best option. He was terrible with the Pacers this year because he couldn’t play with Lance, but I could definitely see him succeeding in a Lance-less Indiana offense, though his defense would still be pretty bad. Really, I’m just hoping that Cleanthony Early falls to the second round and the Pacers can trade up a little bit to get him — the dude is gonna be a stud, but teams aren’t excited about him because he’s 23 and doesn’t have much upside.

Wade: Could they afford Kyle Lowry? (Spoiler alert: They cannot.) Trevor Ariva or Luol Deng could both fit nicely into their defensive system, but neither is creative on the other end and we would likely see an even less dynamic offense, if that is possible. Shawn Marion might have a year left in him.

Gibson: Outside of the guys mentioned above, I’d like to think Avery Bradley could be an options for the Pacers due to his defensive efforts and could replace Lance’s offense. But he is an injury risk, but hey, we didn’t talk any about Steph Curry’s ankles this year, right? But it all depends on the price any of these guys demand. The Pacers have limited cap room so I think once the first few free agent moves happen, we’ll have a better idea of what the market is for a possible Lance-placement.

Rettig: Indy should look for another young, rising star that still boasts some potential. Re-signing Lance is likely the Pacers’ top choice at the shooting guard spot, but there are other options out there. What remains to be seen is how the Pacers want to use Solomon Hill, if at all, and what they do in the draft.

3. George Hill and Roy Hibbert are the names tossed around most in the trade rumors. Which player do you think is more expendable in a trade?

Bishop: Both are equally expendable. I don’t want to single one out however I don’t think Hill was that bad on the court. He shouldn’t be the starting point guard but he’s a good spot-up shooter. Interestingly enough, George Hill ranked second on the team in both win shares and win shares per 48 minutes during the playoffs.

Washburn: To me, Hibbert is far less expendable. There just aren’t that many great defensive big men in this league and even though he slipped at the end of the year, he still defends the rim better than anyone. As much as I like George Hill as a person and Indiana native, you can pretty easily get 90% of his production for 1/2 the price. I’m not sure that’s the case with Hibbert. Now if this question means, “Who is more likely to be traded?” then I have no idea. Nothing would surprise me at this point.

Wade: Both are expendable. They have structured their defense around both Roy Hibbert’s talents and limitations, but I believe Vogel could insert another capable center and still make things work — perhaps expanding the defense’s versatility. It would be difficult, but not impossible. Hill is obviously limited and replacing him with a more creative playmaker could do dividends on offense (while perhaps putting even more defensive pressure on the wings).

Gibson: As far as the system, neither seems very expendable. The wingspans of Hill, Stephenson, and George on the perimeter allow the Pacers to run the system they do. Less capable defenders might have a heavy affect on the way Indiana funnels guys into bad mid-range shots or into the arms Hibbert. If either is traded the Pacers will need an equal defender or may need to re-calibrate the defense.

Rettig: Roy Hibbert brings more to the table, and still has some upside, in my opinion. His presence on defense is undeniably important to the Pacers’ success, while George Hill simply plays a clean game and handles the ball. Both contracts seem equally difficult to fit in any trade scenario, but I think either player could be dealt. A point guard similar to Rajon Rondo is exactly what Indy needs.

4. Not much has been made of potential trade partners, but who do you think the Pacers can realistically trade for?

Bishop: If the Pacers complete a trade, they won’t get a player that can move the needle likely. Trading away David West could bring that player, but I don’t know any team that is looking for a 33-year old power forward on a monster deal that cannot stretch the floor past 20 feet.

Washburn: I’m just not certain a trade is necessary. If the Pacers trade Hibbert/West, then they are sacrificing their biggest advantage they have against 25 of the 29 other teams. If they stay pat, they still don’t match up well to Miami’s small-ball lineup. It’s a tough decision. I think the best hope is to run it back and hope each young player improves and West doesn’t decline too much.

Wade: I honestly can’t see any trade that would keep them as good as just re-signing Lance Stephenson unless they start sacrificing future draft picks, which feels like it would be a looming catastrophe given the team’s fiscal concerns.

Gibson: Again, I think it is a wait and see situation. I don’t think they are going to get much right now for anyone other than PG, and that’d be stupid, obviously. The Pacers just weren’t themselves after January 19th, 2014. Without knowing exactly what the chemistry issues were and who they came from, it hard to say what trade needs made. I just hope Indiana doesn’t get into a Ron Artest situation where they back Stephenson and then he ends up demanding a trade soon after. If an off season helps wipe away those chemistry issues then I don’t think a trade is needed. But if one or two guys can’t put that behind them, then it will be time to fire up the Trade Machine.

Rettig: With Larry Bird, Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard, not much is unrealistic. As mentioned in response to the first question, I don’t see Indy reaching the NBA Finals with their current starting five, and a trade could help them dethrone the Big Three in Miami.

5.How much should Pacers’ fans trust Larry Bird this offseason?

Bishop: Yes. Larry Bird hasn’t done anything to lose that trust. Fans should trust the vision that he will take in the coming weeks and months.

Washburn: Kind of. Larry Bird is a great evaluator of talent, but I’m not sure how well he and Vogel work together on implementing those pieces. Bird found Paul George late in the lottery, Lance Stephenson in the second round, traded Jermaine O’Neal’s corpse for Roy Hibbert, and flipped Danny Granger’s clearly washed up knee for a younger and healthier Evan Turner. Unfortunately, Turner couldn’t help the team because Vogel couldn’t make him fit. The same could be said for D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, and Chris Copeland. Perhaps Larry isn’t a chemistry expert, or he’s unable to envision how the pieces he brings in will fit together. But that rests more on Vogel. The coach should have tinkered with the lineup far more during the regular season, figuring out how to use Copeland, Turner, Luis Scola, and C.J. Watson while also not riding his starters into the ground. All you can ask your front office guys to do is bring in talented players. Larry Bird has done that time and time again. Vogel is the guy that needs to improve.

Wade: It’s really hard to say, and sort of depends on how much you blame the players/coach for the collapse this year vs. the overall roster construction. Early in the year, he was a genius who built a contender without any high draft picks. Now it looks like he assembled a bunch of mentally weak bums. I still think most of his decision making has been sound at the time, even if it has later looked suspect through hindsight. I still think he’s one of the better execs in the league.

Gibson: Maybe. Larry Legend didn’t give us much to complain about… until this year. The Granger/Turner trade and the Andrew Bynum signing did not pan out at all. I don’t think he’s lost the touch, but I don’t think he goes unquestioned either.

Rettig: Pacers fans should put a lot of trust in Larry Bird. The Legend has constructed the current team and relieved the franchise of its troubled past over the last decade. Unfortunately, Bird can’t control how well the team performs. He does, however, have the ability to improve this roster and I strongly believe he will do just that.

Tags: Indiana Pacers

  • Joe Betz

    Fun trade machine deal that works: Hibbert + Hill to Boston for Rondo + Jeff Green/ Gerald Wallace + Random Center. Boston wants a legit big man. They get it. Boston wants to rid themselves of Green or Wallace’s contract. Done. The Pacers get a legit PG and, assuming that multiple first team all defense players can cover up for what you lack with Hibbert at the rim, the Pacers are pushed over the top to the FInals.

    • Ian

      I think people need to actually take a look at Rondo before they get all excited about him pushing the Pacers over the top.

      He can’t shoot. The Pacers offense #1 problem is that they don’t stretch the floor well. Hill was one of the few guys who could stretch the floor. You can’t replace him with a non shooter. Rondo wouldn’t find any driving lanes with Hibbert and West clogging the interior. His defense has also slipped dramatically over the last few years. Lowry makes sense but Rondo doesn’t. As for the other guys Green is an inefficient volume scorer and Wallace is washed up. This trade would make the Pacers so much worse.

      • Joe Betz

        Looking at him: he gets the nod over George Hill at PG any day. You simply cannot argue that Hill is a better PG with a straight face. Lowry doesn’t make sense to me. He is still a class behind Rondo (who is only 28), and I want a PG who can create easy shots for teammates, which is what Rondo can do because he can actually penetrate. Lowry is simply a more aggressive George Hill who is a smaller, poorer defender. Hill gets the nod from 3 and from the FT line, but he is an offensive afterthought. Miami gave him no respect, and with 3s bouncing off the side of the backboard, it’s easy to see why.

        Trading Hibbert allows the lane to open, and he is Boston’s prize in this trade. The Pacers would have to take back some salary, so you have Green or Wallace and the least coveted Boston center, whether that is Sullinger or Faverani.

        Projected 8 man rotation: Rondo, George, Green/Wallace, West, Mahinmi (or Random Boston Center), Lance, CJ, Scola (or random mid-level PF depending on Lance’s contract).

        Argument for why this makes them better: easier shots due to a legitimate PG, open driving lanes, and the combination of a potential backcourt that vouches 3 All NBA defensive players–terrifying. I would want Green over Wallace, though, so you lose defense, but you do gain offense–Green averages 11 shots per game for his career…it was up +3 this year because Rondo was hurt.

        Argument for why this makes them worse: rim protection is gone, so if the backcourt gets beat, there won’t be much at the rim, though Mahinmi is still pretty solid. You lose Hill’s 3pt shooting, but it’s not like he’s lights out from deep–~37%, but he only takes ~3 a game. You are essentially giving up one three per game for +6 easier shots, assuming Rondo’s and Hill’s assist numbers can be viewed that way. West is your only post up threat. Rondo and Wallace injury concerns.

        Final word: the trade machine says this makes both teams worse by two games, haha. The Pacers lost because a historic defense still needs to manufacture points, and when your PG averages more rebounds than assists, you need to think about re-engineering your lineup. Nobody wants Hill’s contract, but there are teams who want Hibbert’s elite rim protection.

        • Ian

          Rondo is a better point guard, in the sense of distributing the ball, than Hill, definitely. But Rondo’s defense has declined significantly, even before his injury. Hill at this point is just plain a better defender. He’s also a much better shooter, and its not just about how many shots (though clearly it’d be better if Hill was more aggressive). You don’t have to guard Rondo on the perimeter at all. The Pacers biggest problem is teams dropping into the paint daring them to shoot. It would get way worse with Rondo as a PG.

          It’s a debatable stat, but ESPN’s real plus minus has Rondo as the 38th best PG in the NBA last season (Hill was 15th). Lowry was 6th.

          Even looking at normal stats, Lowry was so much better than Rondo this season its not even close. He shot .380 from 3 while attempting 6.3 a game. Rondo’s career 3-pt percentage is .289. Lowry’s the same age as Rondo, and he still averaged 7.4 assists. Also, very important, Lowry averaged 2.5 turnovers while Rondo averaged 3.3 (and 3.9 last season before he got hurt). Rondo hasn’t played more than 68 games in 5 years. He’s a career .621 Ft shooter. Lowry’s 20.2 PER rating was higher than any season of Rondo’s career. I could go on and on.

          • Joe Betz

            Lowry had a career year, absolutely…so maybe with his 3rd team he has finally found something. Maybe he continues to play that well. Rondo has essentially a 10ppg 10ast 5rb average shooting close to 50% from the field in every season he has played starters’ minutes. I don’t know man…just can’t get behind thinking Lowry will keep doing this. That +/- seems bogus…Rondo had 13 double doubles and 1 triple double playing with essentially no one….only five less double doubles than Lowry…even though Lowry played more than twice as many games as Rondo. What I like about any complaints with Rondo is it keeps him in the picture…the Pacers have no way to get Lowry.

          • Ian

            I don’t think either player is in the picture realistically, but I don’t think Lowry would be harder to get. If Lowry wants to leave, then Toronto will be looking to do a sign and trade. I don’t think the Celtics would want Hibbert and Hill, as I’m pretty sure Ainge is not going to take on salary for the next two seasons especially since he doesn’t have to. It’s not like he has a bunch of albatross contracts he needs to dump. If he trades Rondo he’s going to want a 1st round pick and some young talent.

            I think this trade makes the Pacers considerably worse. Plugging in ‘random Boston center’ is a significant downgrade over Hibbert, unless you assume that Hibbert is the guy who posted goose eggs in some postseason games, rather than the one that was the definitive DPoY the first half of the season. In theory this might work if the replacement center is a true stretch 5 who could play starters minutes but who is that going to be? There really aren’t any of those in the NBA. Rondo just doesn’t work unless you surround him with 3 point shooters who can spread the floor, and this is the Pacers’ biggest weakness, and trading Hill would only make that worse.

            I think a lot of the Pacers problems could be solved by West further developing his 3 point shot, further development of Lance and PG as creators, and getting a couple of productive players for the bench. You don’t need a real PG if you have someone who can play D and spread the floor, and your wings are creative. I think George showed signs of that last season and obviously Lance can be as well. Think of how the Heat, when they are at their best, use James and Wade as creators and Chalmers is basically a spot up shooter. And I’d much rather have Hill than Chalmers.

            Now apparently Greivis Vasquez really wants to stay with Toronto. But if they keep Lowry perhaps the Pacers can move for him. He’s always been sorely undervalued, but he’d be a great fit for the Pacers in many ways, not the least of which he’d come cheaper. He’s tall, he’s a very willing passer, and has a good outside shot, and he’s only 27. He’d struggle defending very small, quick PGs, but its likely the Pacers could rotate George over in critical situations since Vasquez has the size to guard 2s and some 3s, as does Lance.

          • Joe Betz

            But who would Indiana be trading to Toronto in a sign and trade move? [Val-ee-choo-nuss] (too lazy to visit espn to actually find how to spell his name) is set as their center. The Pacers only expendable pieces are Hibbert and Hill (in the starting 5), and both have ridiculous contracts….trouble trouble trouble.

            I agree Vogel’s system has to change, especially to get something out of the bench unit. Indiana’s bench is where players hoping to continue their NBA careers go to die.

            Vasquez had a great season with…NO, I think? before Toronto. But I would prefer Hill to Vasquez.

            This Finals is showing us, and the past few Finals (and all of Indiana’s playoff series), that having a huge big man clog up the paint is not awesome, especially when he has trouble finishing at the rim. Hibbert is an elite defender at the rim, but I would rather watch Rondo hit 65% of his FTs than see Hibbert flail a jump hook or get burnt by stretch 5s. Both are ugly…I have seen one of these for the past 3 years and am in desperate need of a change. That said, if this team comes back, I think they will still be elite…but will hinge on Hill and Hibbert playing well consistently…and that just hasn’t happened enough.

            Speaking of players who can defend multiple positions…KAWHI LEONARD….why, God…why….

          • Ian

            I agree the Pacers don’t have a ton to offer Toronto, but they could help Toronto offload Landry Fields and he might be more useful for the Pacers than for Toronto. Also if Toronto resigns Lowry they might not have much reason to keep Vasquez, lowering his trade value.

            I think Vasquez brings creative ability (he led the NBA in total assists 2 years ago) and matches Hill’s outside shooting. We aren’t going to get an A-lister without taking a huge step back in other areas (by replacing Hibbert by, well, no one), and as I said I don’t see Rondo fitting into this roster at all due to the lack of outside shooting and the fact that he doesn’t need to be guarded on the outside.

            Lets also remember that there aren’t very many stretch 5s in the NBA. And San Antonio has managed to demolish the Heat despite having a traditional big man in Duncan. It’s too easy to get caught up with the tiny sample size of the regular season against a couple of teams rather than their performance the rest of the season. I think its arguable that Roy was easier to take advantage because of too much workload in the regular season. If he’s kept better rested he’ll be better at closing out than he was in the last couple of months.

  • Ian

    1) I think West does need to add the 3 to his game in a big way. He’s obviously capable of making it. In today’s NBA the 3 is king and having a 4 that can stretch the floor is a huge asset. It would also lengthen his career value.

    2) Vogel’s #1 flaw is his inability to fit in parts that don’t perfectly fit into his system. Not everyone can be a long defender who can also score in multiple ways. If he doesn’t learn how to take advantage of component pieces that have different skills, the Pacers will never evolve. Doing exactly what the Spurs or Heat do isn’t necessarily the answer, but he needs to take a long hard look at himself and the Pacers offense and adapt. He’s too young to rigidly stick with one system when its not working.

    3) If you are the Pacers you have little choice but to focus on getting the team back to where it was in the first half of the season. The only other option is to try and blow up the team and rebuild around Lance and George. But I’m not even sure that is possible. The current roster was designed as a 2 year team after which West and Roy’s contracts are up. The only other possibility is a challenge trade: Finding a team with a player on a big deal who’s value is equally depressed because of recent underperformance, and see if a change of scenery for both players helps them.

  • Jack Wright

    None of it matters because we still have Vogel, a non-championship winning coach if I’ve ever seen one.

  • Nick Johnson

    Hibbert for Eric Gordon! There salaries are exactly the same, however Gordon is always an injury concern. Could also trade Hill & Mahinmi for Gordon and let Lance run the point.