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With the signing of Rodney Stuckey, the Pacers have reached the NBA roster limit of 15 players, while staying under the luxury tax threshold. While that could mean that the Pacers are ready to take this roster into next season, it may be a mistake to assume as much. One indicator that the Pacers may not quite be done tinkering is the somewhat unbalanced nature of this roster. Consider the following depth chart:
- Point Guard – George Hill, C.J. Watson, Donald Sloan
- Shooting Guard – C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey
- Small Forward – Paul George, Solomon Hill
- Power Forward – David West, Luis Scola, Chris Copeland, Damjan Rudez
- Center – Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinmi, Lavoy Allen, Shayne Whittington
Indiana is decidedly thin on the wing and heavy at the big positions. There remains some flexibility within the roster regarding partially guaranteed contracts.
As has been discussed ad nauseum, only $1.9 million of Luis Scola’s roughly $4.9 million contract is guaranteed, making it a potentially useful trade asset. Further, Shayne Whittington is only guaranteed $25 thousand and could easily be jettisoned before opening night. (This seems unlikely, as Indiana signed him with full knowledge of an injury that will likely cause him to miss training camp and the start of the season. Still, it can’t be ruled out.) Also, Donald Sloan’s contract is fully unguaranteed through August 15th.
There are some limitations, as the Pacers have only minimum level exceptions with which to sign players. They do have two traded player exceptions (TPE’s) – one from Miles Plumlee ($1.2million expires July 26th) and one from Danny Granger ($4.2 million expires February 2015) – they could use to orchestrate a sign-and-trade.
However, they would have to get another team interested, and Indiana would have to send the team one of the following per Mark Deeks of Shamsports: i) a player under contract, ii) a future draft pick, the maximum protection of which is 55 spots, iii) a player’s draft rights, but specifically those of a player with a ‘reasonable’ chance of signing in the NBA one day (something judged at the discretion of the NBA), or iv) $75,000.
It’s also worth noting that the Pacers under Larry Bird have a history of waiting for free agency to settle before making surprising moves. It was on July 27th just last year that Indiana traded for Luis Scola. Three summers earlier, Bird struck a deal to bring Darren Collison to town on August 11th.
There’s very little chance that the summer of 2014 won’t be disappointing to Pacer fans – losing Lance Stephenson will dampen the enthusiasm for almost any move. But, there are a lot of days between now and opening night, and the Pacer brain trust of Bird, Donnie Walsh, and Kevin Pritchard will likely try to use them all to help take the edge off Born Ready’s departure.