Now that we've gotten Miles Plumlee out of our systems, it's time to figure out what the Pacers should do next. Free Agency is upon us starting July 1, and there's going to be some crazy talk going on, especially considering the offers Roy Hibbert is likely to get. I personally think that Kevin Pritchard's insistence that Hill/Hibbert are priorities 1 and 1a speaks to the team's belief that it is still just "one piece away" and wants to continue building slowly and conservatively. This kind of goes along with what we saw draft night when they took Plumlee and Johnson, four year guys with limited upside but who both arguably do something we need help with.
So assuming Pritchard/Walsh are on the same page as Bird was (and right now they don't have much of a choice, with what he left them to work with) I think a few subtle additions could put us comfortably back into the #3 or #4 seed, depending on what happens with teams like Brooklyn and Chicago. My goal, if I'm forced to be conservative, is still to beat out the hobbled Bulls for the Central Division title and try to improve last year's playoff finish by making the Eastern Conference Finals. Here are some possible additions:
O.J. Mayo: The Grizzlies told Mayo they wouldn't tender his offer to him, making him an unrestricted free agent and officially on the market for the Pacers. WIll Bird's infatuation with him trickle down to Walsh/Pritchard? They'd have to forgo the MLE and just spend most of their cap space on him (probably something in the $7-8 mil neighborhood to start) OR renounce Hill in favor of Mayo. Don't see that happening, but should it?
Brandon Roy: We've heard the Pacers are one of a handful of teams interested in adding Roy. We've talked non-stop about him already. But what's he worth? I say nothing more than a one year, vet minimum contract. I think we'd be lucky to get 15 mpg out of him for 50+ games, if he's as healthy as he possibly can be. Is that worth a vet min contract? Given his feel for the game and versatility, I say it is, but that means we're probably looking at Dahntay Jones or Orlando Johnson playing 15-20 mpg for 1/3rd of the season or more. Not sure I'm ready for that inevitability.
Jamal Crawford: My feelings on Crawford are as mixed as the rest of the IC community. Part of me loathes his shot selection and tunnel vision. The other part of me gets all warm and fuzzy just because he's a notable free agent we're talking to, and that so rarely happens. If we're not renouncing that MLE, a three year $16 million deal (which is pretty much the MLE with the maximum increase per year) with a team option in year three would be fair, but wouldn't be any more than he was making in Portland.
Ramon Sessions: If the Pacers deal Collison for a future pick or something, Sessions could come in and probably start right away, and play 25-30 mpg, assuming we're keeping Hill as a backup 1/2. The real question is: Is Sessions even better than DC? He's probably DC's equal as a defender (he's maybe a little better because he's simply bigger), he's a much better halfcourt penetrator, and he's got great size and vision. He doesn't have DC's track record for FG efficiency and he's older. Plus, he's a true journeyman, and there's got to be a reason for that. Maybe he's an a-hole. I don't think he's worth much more than that contract I mentioned for Crawford, and he's coming off of a deal not much cheaper than that, so would he take it if it meant he was starting, and financially secure for a couple years?
Carl Landry: Landry's name always comes up in connection with the Pacers. Our front office has liked him before, and he'd be a nice addition at the right price, at least offensively. But with Hansbrough he's redundant, and if we're giving minutes to Plumlee (which we better be, dammit, considering how high we drafted him, if for no other reason than to see if he's any good and give him some experience) we don't have room for another post player on the bench soaking up that much cap space. It would seem for Landry to make sense, Hansbrough would have to be traded.
Speaking of trades, are there any trades the Pacers just HAVE to make? The free agency period will start the new year, which means Trade Machine will work and we can all have fun seeing if we can use our cap space to absorb someone who can help us. Any names come to mind?
Kyle Lowry: The Rockets didn't get Lowry unloaded draft night, and if they can't make a deal work for a star, may be looking to dump him for a pick or something. A future conditional first and D. Jones for him? Is that fair? Would the Pacers do that? Would they even have interest?
Shawn Marion: I love Marion's game, and think he's just what this team needs (after a better point guard). If Dallas can snag Deron Williams (and get him to give them a slight discount), they'll want to free up some space to go after Howard. They could do a trade I suggested a long time ago by sending Beaubois and Marion here for, say Tyler Hansbrough. Along with those two players they could also throw in some sort of promise that they won't offer Hibbert anything. They'd then have to amnesty Haywood, but could almost (depending on how nice Deron is to them) trade just a bunch of future firsts to Orlando for Howard. Worth it for Beaubois and Marion?
What are some other deals? Rec it up.