The Indiana Pacers traded away their 2014 first-round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns last summer (along with Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green) for the aging Luis Scola. The deal seemed like a wise move at the time.
Plumlee was a player who had never seen an NBA court and looked to have a low ceiling despite his athleticism. Green was a disaster who looked like sunk money with $6 million left on his deal. And a win-now Pacers team wasn’t likely to pick up anyone late in the 2014 first round who would help them win a title immediately.
Scola was aging, so there had to be some part of front office that worried about the long-term salary concerns of not adding another cheap rookie deal (via the 2014 first rounder) to the core. But the bench badly needed an upgrade, the savvy Argentine looked to be a clear upgrade on Tyler Hansbrough even at his advanced age, and they wanted out of the Green deal.
Both on the court and financially — mainly in terms of ridding themselves of Green’s seemingly onerous deal — the benefits seemed to be worth giving up a late first round pick. It didn’t seem like a no brainer, but it was a deal that was very hard to criticize at the time.
“At the time” being the critical part of that sentence.
Of course, Scola was disappointing for major stretches of the season and the Pacers’ team-wide collapse meant that any small improvement he could provide over Hansbrough was squandered. Moreover, Plumlee launched what appears to be the start of a promising career in Phoenix and Green looks to have resurrected his there.
Would those things have happened in Indiana? Probably not, but that fact won’t — nor should — stop the criticism for what now can only be described as a horrible trade by the Pacers’ front office.
While the long-term damage can only get worse, the now-term impact is clear: Indiana has no first-round pick in Thursday’s draft.
Thus, they likely won’t do much on draft day.
Anything can happen of course, and nobody would put it past Larry Bird to make a surprise major move after watching his team go S.O.F.T. in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. But Pacers fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. Thursday will probably be another boring day in what is likely to be a boring offseason in the state of Indiana.
Still, there is a (very late) second-round pick in play, so there will (probably) be at least one more player joining the team very soon.
Yesterday, we looked at how Indiana has not been able to replicate it’s 1990s’ success in fielding international players. So perhaps that is a good place to look.
The back court is also an area of need for a team that watched George Hill fail to produce on way too many occasions late this season. The front court isn’t exactly loaded with bench talent either (especially if Indiana waives Scola this offseason to make more room to re-sign Lance Stephenson) while David West is just getting older. And if Stephenson walks, the team certainly needs some help at the two spot.
Well then, wouldn’t ya know, it looks like everywhere is an area of need.
Who will they add?
Who knows, but here is a rundown of likely candidates from people in the know. (via Bleacher Report)
"Jonathan Wasserman (Bleacher Report): Lamar Patterson, SG, PittsburghSam Amico (Fox Sports Ohio): Nick Johnson, SG, ArizonaAlex Kennedy (Basketball Insiders): Jordan Bachynski, C, Arizona StateGary Parrish (CBS Sports): Bryce Cotton, PG, ProvidenceZach Harper (CBS Sports): Markel Brown, SG, Oklahoma StateMatt Moore (CBS Sports): Spencer Dinwiddie, SG, ColoradoDraft Express: Ioannis Papapetrou, SF, Olympiakos (Greece)NBADraft.net: Alec Brown, C, Wisconsin-Green Bay"
We’re talking deep, second-round, mock-draft chatter here, so take these names with a grain of salt.
There is also a case to be made for trying to trade into the first round (even if it is unlikely), and as mentioned it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see Bird do something nuts. It would surprise me some, since the financial and current-asset realities of this team make staying pat the most likely outcome of the summer, but I wouldn’t really bat an eye.
Instead, this is the bed the Pacers have made for themselves.
They put a lot of eggs in a 2014 playoff push, and they have the next few seasons of their salary cap tied up in some young players who need to get it together if they want to not disappoint again.
So while the rest of the fan bases throughout the league get drunk on the future hope and potential that the NBA draft represents, Pacers fans get to eagerly wait to find out what player they’ve never heard of the team will select 57th overall.