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