Free Agency The Pacers have four free agents of their own this summer. They should bring back David West and Sam Young let Tyler Hansbrough and DJ Augustin sign elsewhere. Re signing David West is the teams top priority. He is the leader of this team and his presence has gone along way toward the development of his younger teammates, particularly Roy Hibbert. West is 32, so giving him more than a 3 year contract would be risky. 3 years 36 million seems appropriate. There are other teams who may be able to offer West a larger contract, particularly Atlanta, but as he himself has said, West likes his teammates and wants to remain here. Bring back Sam Young also. He provides effort and defense while making a league minimum salary which makes him valuable. As far as the other two free agents go, do not resign Tyler Hansbrough or DJ Augustine. Hansbrough will cost at least 4.5 million as a restricted free agent. That is too much when considering his production could be provided by Jeff Pendergraff at a quarter of the salary. Augustine is simply not good enough to bring him back. His role on this team should have been to make the bench better. That didn't happen.
The Pacers will need to find an upgrade at the backup point guard position in free agency. If this team hopes to win a championship next season, drafting a point guard who would need time to develop, would not help. They need a player with experience who can contribute immediately. There are a number of experienced point guards available. But when considering the amount of cap space the Pacers seem likely to spend and player skill set, the best option is Darren Collison. He is a restricted free agent and will likely get a contract offer of around 4 million next season. Darren spent two of his four seasons here in Indy and his familiarity with the organization would allow him to come back to the team ready to contribute to a championship run. He was a nice compliment to George Hill because they offer differing skill sets. What Collison provides is quickness and ball handling, skills the Pacers needed in the Heat series. Not only could DC help this team immediately, he is only 25 so he could be a part of the Pacers young nucleus for several more seasons to come.
The Draft At pick number 23, the Pacers should be able to add a rotation player. They struggled offensively this past season because they did not have a three point shooter who could stretch the defense. Granger will be back next season to help fill this role, but they would do well to find a younger player the likes of Danny Green, who can fill this role long term. This player is Reggie Bullock from North Carolina. He is 6'7, a good 3 point shooter, athletic, and is a good defender.
Assuming he comes back healthy, he could be the piece of the puzzle that makes the Pacers a championship team next season. However, Granger should not supplant Lance Stephenson in the starting lineup. Danny is a better scorer than Lance and that is precisely why he should come off the bench. The starting lineup doesnt need more scoring, the bench does. Granger's role off the bench would fit his skill set. He could be the best sixth man in the league next season. However, Danny Granger will not be a Pacer after this season. He will be an unrestricted free agent and if he is healthy and productive this season, the Pacers will not be able to afford his cap number. If he isn't healthy, then there is no point in signing him anyway. Lance Stephenson is 23, a shooting guard, and should figure into the Pacers long term plans. Danny Granger is 30 and plays the same position as Paul George. It would be a mistake for the Pacers to alter their starting lineup.
The Pacers should keep Granger for the entirety of this season and let his contract expire. As far as trading Granger is concerned, no other team will give up valuable assets for him until he is proven healthy. That means he wouldn't get traded before the start of the season. The other consideration in a trade would be that the Pacers can't acquire an asset of value because doing so would limit their ability to offer contract extensions to Paul George and Lance Stephenson. Both will be free agents next off season. To resign both players, the Pacers will have to spend all of their available salary cap. To illustrate this, the following shows how the Pacers may be over the luxury tax number of 70 million with the following salaries in 2014,
George Hill 8.000,000
Darren Collison 4.000,000 (estimated)
Lance Stephenson 6.000,000 (estimated)
Orlando Johnson 788,872
Paul George 16.000,000 (estimated)
Sam Young 400,000 (estimated)
Gerald Green 3.500,000
David West 12.000,000 (estimated)
Jeff Pendergraff 988,872
Miles Plumlee 1.121,520
Reggie Bullock 1.200,000 (estimated)
Roy Hibbert 14.283,844
Ian Mahinmi 4.000,000
This is essentially your Pacers team for the next 3 seasons. These estimates are conservative and they are already over the cap and close to the luxury tax. There is no way a small market team with below average attendance is going to pay the luxury tax. Next off season they are going to have to move Gerald Green's expiring contract just to avoid the luxury tax.
If the Pacers are able to make these roster moves, or equivalent ones, they should be set up to enjoy several years as serious contenders for championships.