1. A point guard in case Jack is too expensive to resign
2. Depth behind Rush and Granger
3. A big man to strengthen the interior defense
A look at the depth chart definitely supports the three needs:
PG: Ford, Diener
Wing: Granger, Rush, Dunleavy (injured)
Interior: Hibbert, Murphy, Hansbrough, , Foster
With only 8 million dollars, that is a lot of holes that need to be filled. But if there is any year to fill holes at a bargain price, this is the year. The economy is in the dumps so owners are looking to cut costs and not waste it on expensive free agents. And next year is considered a very strong free agent class-- anchored by Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh-- so many teams are saving money for next year. This should mean that there should be a lot of players looking for jobs for a reasonable amount of money.
So we have established what the Pacers need and how much they have to spend. After the jump, we take a look at what kind of player we will be looking for and possible players we could be looking at.
(WARNING: Wall of Text After the Jump)
Need #1: Point Guard
Point guard is an interesting position for us. We have TJ Ford who is solid but unspectacular and really does not fit into O'brien's offense at all. However, he is borderline starter quality and would do. And we are also looking to trade him. Behind him we will must likely have Diener, as I expect he will pick up his option if he already hasn't. Diener is not a good point guard and is really a 3rd stringer. Plus, he seems to constantly be hurt. We also used our second round pick to draft Price, but second round picks do not have a guaranteed contract so he does not really enter the discussion.
We have three options here: (1) Resign Jack, (2) Look for a veteran PG for cheap as a stop gap measure, or (3) Look for a young guy, hope he pans out and solidifies the position. No matter what we do, it must fit with our rebuilding plans.
Jack, Sessions (R), Robinson (R), Price, Knight, Hunter, Carter Watson (R). Felton (R)
First off, why didn't I list Bibby or Miller? First reason is that they will command too much money (especially Miller) and second of all, they are too good and old to want to go to the Pacers and suck for 2 years. They will want to go to a contender most likely.
There is not a lot to pick from. Resigning Jack seems to be the best thing to do. Knight, Carter, Hunter, and Price are really just stop gap measures. Ramon Sessions and CJ Watson are both young point guards who could potentially solidify a position but are definitely not sure things. Sessions averaged 12 and 6 with 2 turnovers and a PER of 17.6 which in 36 minutes would have been 16-7.5-2.5. Watson averaged 9.5 and 3 with 2 turnovers and a PER of 14.2 which in 36 minutes would have been 14-4-2. Both are young and both are good sized (6-2+), and could be an option if they could be had for cheap. But they are restricted which means if they are cheap, they will be matched.
Felton is a fantasy land option. We have had interest in him in the past according to the rumors and the Bobcats did draft Augastine last year. But, he may command more than we can afford, he really seems to be more of a 2-guard, and once again he is restricted.
Need #2: Wing Depth
We have nothing behind Rush and Granger except for a broken down Dunleavy who will miss a good chunk of the season (and who knows in what condition). We do not need a star at this position, we already have one. What we need, in my opinion of course, is someone who can come in and defend and/or someone who can come in and provide some scoring punch in a pinch. Preferably, the defence part as Granger and end-of-the-season Rush can already put the ball in the hole. Once again, we can look for a stop gap veteran or look for a cheap, young, diamond in the rough.
Where to start. First off, no I didn't list Ariza because I bet he commands too much, but damn doesn't he describe the three point shooting, defense first wing we need? Anyway, Wafer, Head, and Murray are small shooting guards who like to shoot. We have experience with Murray already but these are the kind of instant offense guys every team needs. You put them in, see if they are hot, and if not, back to the bench they go. Udoka is a veteran defender who I bet ends up with a contender.
Williams is a complete wild card. He is good (14-6 on 46% shooting), young (22), and long (6-9). He is also restricted, meaning if we were to get him cheap, they would simply match. Also, if God is kind and we end up with him, does he start? Is Granger moved to the 2? Or is he our offense off the bench and would he be happy with that? Or do we go small and put him at the 4?
Barnes had a solid year in Phoenix but I have no clue if he can defend or what kind of money he is wanting or anything. Mason is a veteran who could fill in for dirt cheap. Kleiza had a down year last year but still averaged 10-4 in 22 minutes (16-6.5 in 36 minutes). He would provide a good scoring punch off the bench. Almond was a first round pick of the Jazz with a nice shot in college but he did nothing in the pros in 2 years. He could be had cheap and could be another Kareem Rush.
The more interesting ones, IMO, are Jones, Bogans, Carney, and Graham. Jones and Bogans are both hard nosed, defense first wings. Both are 6-5 I do believe so they are too short for the 3 but would be perfect to back up Rush. Carney is a home town kid who has bounced around but is extremely athletic. He hasn't produced too much, but he is still young and if pushed could be a great defender with his athletic ability. Joey Graham is another interesting wing. A former first round pick of the Raptors who for whatever reason couldn't get on the floor. But his averages for 36 minutes come out to 14pts, 7rbs, with 48% shooting. His PER, however, is horrid (11.9)
And then of course we have Stephen Graham who is a well known (to us) Pacer. I think he deserves another shot. And then another former Pacer Daniels.
Need #3: The Interior
Even though we just drafted a power forward, we still have a need inside. Maybe next time we should use the draft to try and fill and need... Just sayin... ANYWAY, we have no defensive presence inside. Murphy is soft. Hibbert was surprisingly bad at the defensive end with his height. Foster is getting old and never was a shot blocker. And Hansbrough is known for his hustle, not his shot blocking ability. The problem is, shot blocking centers don't last long in free agency and they aren't cheap. Size isn't cheap. So we will end up paying a decent chunk,or end up taking a chance on a young guy and hoping he pans out.
Pachulia, Powe, May, Petro, Warrick, Anthony, McRoberts, Magloire, Williams, Wilcox, Robert Swift, Fry, Gortat, Ratliff, Oberto
Ewww is the first thing that comes to mind. The centers, what we really need, are generally awful. Pachulia, Petro, Magloire, Swift, and Ratliff are tall... and some are young... and that's just about it. They suck. Anything above the minimum is way too much. And if we sign Magloire I will burn down Conseco. Other than his one gift of an all-star appearance he has been terrible.
The only other center options is Gortat, who will likely command the full MLE if not more. Steep price for a back up center. Oberto has been mentioned as an option when he gets released, and if he is cheap, he could be a stop gap for a few years.
After that, we have a plethora of power forwards... and we just drafted a power forward and have another one who is costing us a bunch of money for a few years. I really do not see the need for another power forward, but we can go over it anyway. Fry and Warrick are soft and we definitely don't need another soft 4. May has shown nothing in the NBA except that he can get hurt constantly and can eat. Lots of Indiana fans want to bring the hometown traitor back (just kidding) to take a chance on a young kid who has talent for cheap. If it is cheap enough, I don't see why not. At worst he can keep Dunleavy company.
Sheldon Williams is a bruiser. Hasn't shown much other than that as he can't get any playing time. His PER was 13.7 last year and his numbers over 36 minutes come out to 13-11 and 1 block. Could be worth the shot.
The only other interesting name on this list is Powe. I love me some Powe. As Rod Benson has said, the man gets buckets. Yes he just tore his knee.. but its 2009, people come back from torn ACL's all the time and are just fine. The main problem is, if we signed Powe... what do you do with Hansbrough? We just drafted him so Bird obviously loves him, so do you sign a player who will glue Hansbrough to the bench? Powe is too short to play center. And another problem is, he doesn't fix the problem that we have nobody on the roster that the opposing slasher fears when he goes to the rim... he doesn't block shots.