As much as I'd like to think the Pacers can acquire a starting-caliber PG who is NOT named Collison, Maynor or Lawson, and still be competitive next year, with the recent news that they're only offering one year, $3.5 million deals to the likes of Jordan Farmar (he'd have to be desperate for PT), Kyle Lowry (he'd have to be stoned) and Raymond Felton (he'd have to be insulted) it looks like the team's resigned to sucking again next year, and using cap space to address the needs at PG, SG and PF. This is a problem because, as we all know (but Bird doesn't seem to), not only will the Pacers have a hard time acquiring free agent stars, but there's a shrinking market for teams looking to trade their big contracts for cap space next year...a year where the free agent class is a TON weaker than it is this year. So, as has been the case all year, the Pacers have three options this summer:
2. Blow this shit up and trade Danny Granger while he still has value.
3. Stop the bleeding with a one-year contract, suck again, hope to strike gold next draft, and hope that rookie becomes a star, and positive impact player who can create wins before Granger gets too old to still be effective, and/or have trade value in case this plan backfires.
Option one is not likely. Option three has too many "buts." Option two has become the most appealing. Considering Bird is stubborn, thinks he's one piece away, and had most of us gassed into believing him for 18 months, it's going to be hard to convince him to go with blowing the whole team up, especially considering his job's on the line and we're facing a work-stoppage. Considering that, you'd think he'd be most interested in pursuing option 1. But it appears as though he's leaning toward option 3. Option 3=30-40 wins (45 if NOBODY gets injured except for JOB, who falls down a flight of stairs and suffers amnesia, which causes him to forget how to be a terrible coach, a guy like Farmar or Lowry not only bites on the one year deal, but becomes a major surprise star, Tyler Hansbrough or Josh McRoberts suddenly become the answer at PF and Paul George learns a new position in 50 days...yeah...not bloody likely). Option 2=20-30 wins. Add in the better draft pick we'd get with option 2, and what's the big downside, besides Bird and JOB losing their jobs? I say they lose their jobs with option 3 anyway. At least with Option 2 Bird can present the argument that he's building something "special" with young stars, collecting assets and draft picks, and push the blame more definitively onto O'Brien. Why wouldn't he do this?
I know in the past I've been a proponent of just getting a new coach and/or a better fit at PG, and trying for 45 wins every year like the Hawks do. But this news that Bird is only offering one year deals "to preserve cap space" proves to us that he doesn't understand the free agency climate as it relates to Indianapolis. Yes, New York, a terrible team that plays no defense whatsoever, wil probably sign a couple studs, including Amare Stoudemire. But it's friggin' New York! Bird HAS to know the difference! He has to! But...he doesn't. He thinks that next summer he can offer Carmelo Anthony and Yao Ming max deals and they'll happily say, "sure, I'd love to move to Indianapolis!" He thinks he can offer Phil Jackson a few mil and he'd throw his other two options (retiring in infinite comfort or coaching for another championship) out the window and come on over to the land of corn and breaded tenderloin sandwiches. This is pure lunacy. It's not even naive anymore. It's just crazy.
So knowing Bird has no intention of being realistic, taking gambles and using his expiring deals correctly, we have to hope and pray someone explains to him that his plan won't work, and convinces him to go with Option 2.
Chris Paul is threatening the Hornets, that if they don't acquire more talent, he's demanding a trade. He's a yearly MVP candidate, and arguably (sorry Drew Brees) the city's most important athlete. How do we use this to our advantage? I say we take a look at B-Huse's old FanPost, specifically scenario #2.
I think we could tweak it a bit. Here's my version: Granger, Solomon Jones, Brandon Rush and Dahntay Jones for Collison, Peja, Marcus Thornton and two future first rounders...if they wouldn't give up two, I'd take one.
So that works, salary-wise. I know what you're going to say though, it also gives the Pacers a crap-load more unusable cap-space. Well, in this scenario, the objective is not to stockpile cap space for free agents next year, but to save money for the young players we already have, and develop them together. Don't get me wrong, there will be money available for a max contract. I think that's how we eventually address PF. Between Al Horford, Joakim Noah, and Carl Landry (OR Jason Thompson if his team, stacked with PFs at the moment, doesn't pick up his option...Anthony Randolph fits into this category too, though he's more likely to be picked up) I believe there's one PF who's worth a max or near-max deal after this season. I can safely predict that of those guys, one will be an All-Star whose team is unwilling to max. My guess is Horford or Noah will be the odd men out. If Atlanta re-ups Johnson at the max and can't get Marvin Williams dealt, they may be reluctant to match a max deal. If the Bulls collect a bunch of stars this summer, they may be unwilling to match a max deal for Noah. But that's neither here nor there. The point is, with the "blow it up" option 2, we can wait out that final, max-deal piece. We will have money to long-term Thornton, Collison, Hibbert and Price, which along with George, Hansbrough and whatever two first rounders we get next year, will become our core. The team could then use the rest of the cap space to sign vets who can show these cats how to win and more coachable young assets with high ceilings. This is the Portland/OKC rebuilding plan, as opposed to the Boston (option 1) rebuilding plan, or the Pacers (option 3) rebuilding plan, which is, pretty much, to just not rebuild.
Imagine going into a 2011-12 season with:
PG-Collison/Price/Marcus Willams or some other high upside youngster
SG-Thornton/Stephenson/2011 first rounder
SF-George/a veteran free agent
PF-Noah or Horford (or Landry, Thompson or Randolph)/Hansbrough/Rolle
C-Hibbert/veteran free agent/2nd rounder
I know it's vague. I know it sucks for the short-term. But I'm giving up on Bird doing this the fast way. Tell me that squad can't win as much, or more games as the squad we're likely going to field next year using Option 3. Use your long-lens. Tell me you wouldn't flock to the Fieldhouse to see that.