In a post-draft media session, Larry Bird mentioned his fondness for power forward Lavoy Allen, whom Indiana acquired in a mid-season trade package of Allen with Evan Turner. Danny Granger was shipped to Philadelphia in return for Turner and Allen, before being bought out and signing with the Clippers.
According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the Pacers have struck a deal to retain Allen. The contract details are currently unknown, but it is assumed to be a one-year deal.
Allen’s role with the Pacers since the trade last season was simply depth in the front court that was never needed. Seeing that Bird admires Allen’s game enough to re-sign him, may he play a bigger role next season as he becomes more acclimated with the staff and system?
Although it was a good move to bring back Allen, it creates a little controversy in a couple places. First off, the salary cap. The salary cap — as hard as it is to understand — is something many fans have kept an eye on this offseason with Lance Stephenson being a free agent. Bird has stressed his desire to bring Stephenson back, and Stephenson repeatedly said he wanted to stay in Indiana last season, but both sides want a deal that is fair both ways.
Bird made it clear on draft night he wouldn’t exceed a certain price for Stephenson, but after offering a 5-year, $44 million deal that Stephenson has yet to accept, no one really knows what’s going to happen with this situation.
Both sides met again Friday, with a deal still not agreed to.
With Allen being an out-of-the-rotation reserve last season, his deal probably won’t take up too much cap space, but every signing the Pacers make chips away at the limited amount of money they have to spend on Stephenson. Before re-upping with Allen, Indiana had about $5 million left to spend before entering the luxury tax zone, which we assume they don’t want to enter.
Presuming Allen’s deal is near the vet minimum, signing him doesn’t change much (they need to roster at least 13 players and he will be one of the lowest-paid on the team), but this is now the fourth minor move the Pacers have committed to before figuring out whether or not Stephenson will stay.
So what does this mean? Is Indiana really OK with letting Lance walk? They dig snag shooter C.J. Miles for $4.5 per season, but the move was most likely made to improve the bench’s scoring and spacing, and wasn’t meant to be a replacement for Stephenson. With that said, I don’t think Bird is complacent with the team he has right now, and maybe a big deal could be made — soon.
Marc Stein of ESPN reported Thursday the Pacers engaged Phoenix in trade talks, attempting to bring Goran Dragic — the league’s reigning Most Improved Player award winner — to Indiana. Talks never gained traction, as the Suns didn’t want to trade their stud PG, but it shows the Pacers front office is actively out there shopping around. The reason? Probably to sure up some cap space for Stephenson, as you don’t let a talent like him just walk away, no matter how many ears he blows in.
Twitter buzzed at the possibility of a Rajon Rondo-to-Indiana trade, but nothing has come to fruition with that either. Though, after drafting Marcus Smart and re-signing Avery Bradley, Boston could be looking to bring in some assets in their rebuilding project, meaning Rondo could be on the way out. For now, however, it’s all rumors.
If Indiana were to make a salary-dumping deal to make room for a bigger offer to Stephenson, the first guy you look at is Roy Hibbert, and Grantland’s Zach Lowe agrees. Hibbert’s annual salary of about $14.9 million seems ridiculous for someone who put up 0’s across the board in the playoff in multiple games,and was incredibly inconsistent throughout the season. There has been talk in the past about how a fresh start might be best for both sides, and in this situation, I’d have to agree.
So how does Allen fit in here? Well, he is a part of a crowded front court after the signings of Damjan Rudez and Shayne Whittington, and dumping Hibbert might give Allen a chance to get some minutes. Who knows if Indiana would bring a more starter-worthy center than Ian Mahinmi or Allen in a trade, but it might not be necessary. Mahinmi showed vast improvement last season as a rim protector and generally outplayed Hibbert over the final two months of the regular season, although his offensive limitations would hurt in a unit that already struggles to score at times. Mahinmi is efficient when he does shoot the ball and rebounds well, but in this case, Allen might be better fit for the starting role.
Don’t believe me? Well, that’s understandable if you didn’t watch the Sixers on a regular basis last season. Allen played a limited role when arriving in Indiana, but when he did get minutes, he made them count.
When playing his former team in Philadelphia, Allen recorded 13 points (6-of-6 shooting), while also bringing down 4 rebounds and rejected 2 shots in 18 minutes. Not good enough for you? In Indiana’s regular season finale vs. Orlando, Allen tallied 12 points (6-of-12) and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes
So yeah, a lot to think about.
The Pacers have given us just enough to speculate about everything, and of course it’s impossible to predict what they’re going to do. I really doubt re-signing Allen is the last move they make this offseason, so stay tuned.