Indiana Pacers will lose some continuity, gain a clearer timeline

Indiana Pacers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Indiana Pacers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers did not bring back any of their key unrestricted free agents this summer, and opted instead for more youthful talent. In theory, this should set the Pacers up for the long haul, but there are some risks involved here as well.

In his post-season press conference, President of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Pacers Kevin Pritchard stressed the importance of continuity on a roster. At the same time, there was plenty of talk about being aggressive this summer. The team had more cap space than usual to throw at bigger names or to take on hefty contracts via trade. In regards to Indy’s unrestricted free agents, continuity ended up being deemed less of a priority than swinging for the fences and shaking things up in order to hopefully make a substantial leap.

Don’t get it twisted, there are still several guys from last season that will return for the 2019-2020 season. The core trio of Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis is still here. Young bucks like Aaron Holiday, T.J. Leaf, and Edmond Sumner look to be sticking around too, as well as bench wing Doug McDermott. But literally all 7 key unrestricted free agents are reportedly departing the team.

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Thaddeus Young is going to Chicago, Bojan Bogdanovic to Utah, Cory Joseph to Sacramento, Wesley Matthews to Milwaukee, and Kyle O’Quinn to Philadelphia. Darren Collison retired, and Tyreke Evans is suspended for two years. That is a lot of roster turnover between seasons. When you have this many free agents in one offseason, that’s to be expected to an extent. But most would have guessed at least one guy would see himself back on the Indiana Pacers in this forthcoming season.

However, the talent Pritchard also is reportedly bringing to the team could be enough to offset the loss of everyone else. Malcolm Brogdon should be the best point guard Indy has had in a long time. Jeremy Lamb has the tools to be a much more effective 6th man than Tyreke was last year. T.J. Warren can score in bunches and will give the Pacers a nice offensive punch in the absence of Bojan.

Still, there was no denying that the chemistry and culture of this team during the Victor Oladipo Era has been nothing but astounding. Right off the bat, it was clear that the Indiana Pacers had something special in this group of men. Moments like the entire team rallying around CoJo after he fell to the ground stick out:

That’s hard to replace. But the Pacers’ front office surely understands the importance of maintaining a winning culture in the locker room, and all of the acquisitions so far seem to echo this. Brogdon, Lamb, and Warren are all guys that punch in and punch out. They do their jobs, they work hard, and they get results. This is Indiana Pacers Basketball to a T.

Furthermore, the team is now significantly younger with these departures and acquisitions. As it currently stands, the oldest player on the entire team is Victor Oladipo, and he’s still just 27 years old. It’s truly impressive to be able to construct a roster that looks as competitive as this one does with not a single guy in his 30s. This sets the team up to all grow and develop together and creates a timeline where everyone is peaking close to the same time. Give it a couple years, and the Indiana Pacers could be scary good.

This whole offseason is a gamble. It’s entirely possible the team suffers from 7 key guys moving elsewhere. At the very least, it could be a very slow start to the year as Vic continues his recovery from injury and guys have to learn to play together. Then, once Oladipo returns, there will be another period of adjustment to ease him back into the rotation.

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Despite all of this, the roster that’s being built is still going to be a squad worthy of the Indiana Pacers moniker. It’s going to be a hard-nosed team that’s tough to score on, and they should have more offensive firepower than before with Brogdon, Lamb, and Warren all more than capable of lighting it up. Once everyone is healthy and familiar with one another, you can expect a highly competitive group built for success for years to come despite the overhaul.