Indiana Pacers See Series of Disappointments in Financial Struggles

Money problems forced the Pacers into countless disappointing decisions in the late 1970's, including the choice to pass on Larry Bird, before Melvin and Herb Simon saved the floundering franchise from years of financial concerns.

Throughout SBNation's NBA blogs today are various trips down the dark, probably best forgotten road of severe disappointment. But when looking at disappointment, Indiana Pacers fans have had it fairly well off compared to some NBA franchises, even despite the team's recent trip through purgatory mucking up a pretty credible run as one of the Eastern Conference's most consistent franchises.

So when it comes to disappointment in the Pacers franchise, it should also serve as a historical reminder, where the once proud ABA powerhouse found themselves in such a dire situation following their $3.2 million entry fee and lack of television revenue for the team's formative years that it set up a long road of moves made with cost cutting in mind, constantly cutting into the on-the-floor product. The infamous "Save the Pacers" telethon is the most notable historical milestone representing the franchise's crippling financial woes, but the lack of money played a huge part in a domino effect of disappointment that led to some of the worst deals in the post-merger NBA.

Following the "success" of the telethon, the Pacers traded their two NBA All-Stars, Billy Knight and Don Buse, before the 1977-78 season in separate deals that helped them net Adrian Dantley. The future Hall of Famer played just 23 games for the Pacers, averaging 26.5 points per game before they shipped him to the Lakers in a deal that involved James Edwards, Earl Tatum, and cash. In fact, according to Pro Sports Transactions, the Pacers made six deals between October 1977 and February 1979 that resulted in the team taking back cash, even sending out players they'd acquired in previous deals.

Financial troubles even played a factor in the team choosing to pass on Larry Bird in the 1978 NBA Draft, as the Atlanta Hawks' choosing to sign Dan Roundfield to a deal the Pacers couldn't match led to the team feeling the need for an immediate player was more important than using the pick on Bird in the chance he might not sign with the team anyway. Given the fact the Pacers couldn't match $450,000 a year on Roundfield, the $650,000 Bird signed for would've been to much so the Pacers may have been correct, with Slick Leonard having to say, "We ended up taking cash. That's how hard up we were."

The Pacers used the pick on Rick Robey, a player they'd trade to bring back Billy Knight months later. The Pacers had acquired another future Hall of Famer in Alex English just before the 1978-79 season, this time the team trading him to Denver (with a first round pick) for an elder George McGinnis in the middle of the 1979-80 season to drum up fan interest. The young English would go on to become one of the league's most prolific scorers as the Pacers continued to look for relief financially.

Financial concerns once again began to reach a tilt in 1983, this time bailed out by the purchase of the team by Melvin and Herb Simon, giving the franchise its first taste of monetary stability since joining the league, allowing the team to become a relevant fixture in the NBA's Eastern Conference throughout the 1990's.

A bonus disappointment during this era goes to the lack of future planning by trading their 1984 first round pick in 1980 for Tom Owens. The pick would go onto the Portland Trail Blazers, who, drafting second in the 1984 NBA Draft, have instead become the team forever linked as the team who passed on Michael Jordan. At least you could argue the Pacers didn't know what they were trading away. Wait, is that a good thing?

What would you say are the biggest disappointments throughout the 45 years of Pacers basketball?

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