Pacers Showing Interest in O.J. Mayo & Elton Brand as Eastern Conference Continues to Evolve

May 23, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; Philadelphia 76ers power forward Elton Brand (42) looks over at his bench after scoring in the 4th quarter of game six against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers defeated the Celtics, 82-75. The 76ers tied the series at 3 games each. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Indiana's quiet free agency, the one spent watching potential targets like Brandon Bass, Jamal Crawford, Brandon Roy, Goran Dragic, Steve Nash, Eric Gordon, and so on, eventually find homes on other teams, has given a lot of grief to fans of the Pacers, who were hoping to see splashes made in Indiana's bid as a challenger in the Eastern Conference.

It seems that while the Pacers still have plenty of options available, the ever evolving East makes the slow and steady Pacers look downright inactive. After all, the Hawks moved Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams to open up their options, the Knicks acquired Jason Kidd and are in the midst of their decision to match on Jeremy Lin's offer from Houston, Boston added Jason Terry to their fold, and Ray Allen decided to join the Miami Heat, giving the NBA Champions more firepower they didn't need.

However, a free agency period that has completely ruined the wise-spending pleas that were intended to come from last year's lockout has really slowed the chances for the Pacers to not only be wise with their cap space, but still make a David West caliber splash. None of the options weigh heavier than the looming Roy Hibbert offer sheet Portland is set to offer on July 11, a max offer Indiana doesn't want to pay on a player the Pacers may not be able to afford to lose. While losing Hibbert means the team will make a run at Chris Kaman (though, at what kind of saving?), the moves surrounding Hibbert's loss and Kaman's acquisition, will be all the difference.

One of those potential options may involve now former Philadelphia 76ers big man Elton Brand, who was amnestied by the team in the final year of his $80 million contract. Ken Berger suggests the Pacers, along with Dallas, are weighing their options in placing a bid on Brand. Even though Brand had his worst years with the Sixers, he played well in each of the last two years (though nowhere near his contract's worth). Brand's veteran presence would certainly help the team, but if the Pacers are keeping an eye on him, would the focus be to create a deeper front court or to use him as one of the replacements for Hibbert?

The 76ers not only decided to part ways with Elton Brand, but also with their leading scorer of a year ago, Louis Williams. The moves open up possibilities for the Sixers to improve themselves with the right acquisitions by deciding to sign former Wizards and Clippers shooter Nick Young. While the two players have similarities, the value of Young's deal may be enough to cover up the loss of the more premium (and overall better) Williams.

Brand isn't the only option opening up for Indiana; they're also showing interest in their never ending pursuit of O.J. Mayo. Mike Wells reports the Pacers have "great, great interest" in Mayo, a player they've tried acquiring numerous times from the Grizzlies. With Memphis out of the picture, the Pacers are free to court Mayo, in hopes that he may eschew a potential starring role in Phoenix for a sixth man spot with Indiana. So despite the moves to show for it, the Pacers remain active in free agency, searching for the right pieces and right contracts to provide them the right opportunities to improve, regardless of where the Hibbert chip falls.

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