My how things have changed around the Fieldhouse for the Indiana Pacers. As recently as last year's NBA draft, the Pacers were looking to bolster their young core of talent which continued to grow and show great promise in the playoffs.
This year, the future is now. Ready or not, with Paul George and Lance Stephenson remaining on valuable rookie contracts, the Pacers should be able to bring back one of the league's most efficient starting units to take another swing at the Miami Heat.
As the Pacers have seen the past two seasons, in the playoffs they don't have to play the Heat on paper, so what shape the key Miami players are in late in the playoffs can open up an opportunity for the Pacers to bust through to the Finals.
But the Pacers need more help, particularly with a better supporting cast. That's a lot to ask from the No. 23 pick in Thursday's draft which is why dealing the pick for a more mature player certainly makes sense. If not, a player with more college experience and at least a solid skill to lean on may be the next best thing. Regardless, if the Pacers keep the pick the player chosen most likely won't impact the Pacers end result next season.
Nope, that type of impact will have to be worked out after July 1 when Larry Bird works to lock up David West and then try to convince a player or two to take less money to join a winning environment with a shot at a title.
But first, the Pacers will have a press conference to announce Bird's return at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday.
Check out the links: