Currently, the Pacers have 13 players under guaranteed contract for the 2013-2014 season. The team’s payroll for the upcoming season comes in at $69,004,829, which means that the Pacers will have approximately $2M to spend on their two remaining roster spots. With training camp only a month away, the front office must decide if they still want to sign two more free agents yet this offseason, or if they want to take a chance on a few camp invites.
Here are a few names that have reportedly been on the Pacers radar:
1. Earl Barron – Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York reported this week that the Knicks, Pacers, Pelicans, and Sixers all have interest in Earl Barron. Barron is a 32 year old back-up center. His most recent stop in the league was with the New York Knicks (he began last season with the Washington Wizards before being waived in December). According to NBA.com/stats, over Barron’s seven year career, he has averaged 4.9ppg, 3.7rpg, and 0.2blk while shooting 37.5% from the field and 71.6% from the free throw line. Last season for the Knicks, he averaged 13.2 minutes per game, 3.3ppg, and 5.1 rpg. If signed, Barron would likely play very sparingly behind Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi.
2. Ivan Johnson – According to the free agent forward’s agent, Johnson recently signed what was described as a “lucrative” contract with a Chinese team (Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls) for the upcoming season. Johnson last played for the Hawks where NBA.com/stats indicate that in 15.0 minutes per game he averaged 6.6ppg and 3.9rpg. Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York reported that Johnson elected to play in the CBA for a higher grade despite interest from the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, and Los Angeles Clippers. However, Sports Illustrated, noted that the Chinese Basketball Association ends begins in October and ends in February. Meaning that, if Johnson so chooses, he will be free to sign on with an NBA team for the playoffs at the conclusion of his season in China.
3. Ron Howard – According to NBC Sports, the d-league swingman, Ron Howard, has been invited to attend the Pacers training camp. Howard has been a long-term stand out with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Last season, he averaged 19.1 ppg, 4.7rpg, and 4.1 apg. Of course, a training camp invite does not mean Howard will be filling one of the Pacers final two roster spots. With Paul George, Danny Granger, Chris Copeland, and Solomon Hill already under contract, it is unlikely that the Pacers will be looking to add another small forward. Nonetheless, Howard will be vying for a spot on the team come training camp.
4. Jimmer Fredette – Although more of a long-shot, Internet rumors still persist over the possibility of Indiana acquiring Fredette via trade from the Sacramento Kings. With the additions of Greivis Vasquex and Ben McLemore this summer, the Kings have reportedly made Fredette available to other teams for the right deal. It has been suggested that the Pacers could offer the Kings a future first round pick in exchange for Fredette. However, he is slated to earn $2,574,120 next season with the Kings. This means acquiring his contract would push the Pacers over the luxury tax threshold ($71M) – something Larry Bird and ownership have vowed the team cannot and will not do. Given that the Pacers do not have many shooting guards, adding a former lottery pick would not be a bad way to go with one of the final roster spots, but the Pacers ability to swing such a deal is minimal at best.
1. Chris Wilcox – If the Pacers are in search of an additional back-up center, Wilcox would be a decent pick-up. Last season in 13.6 minutes per game, he averaged 4.2ppg and 3.0rpg while shooting 71.9% from the field and 67.2% from the free throw line with the Boston Celtics. Wilcox made a living in Boston running the floor for the easy slam. He can bring energy off the bench in limited minutes. In recent seasons, Wilcox’s production was affected by injury. In 2012, his season was cut short when he had to undergo heart surgery. This past season, Wilcox tore a ligament in his thumb. The tear caused him to miss 19 games before he attempted to play through the pain. He reportedly had surgery this offseason and is hoping to receive a camp invite.
2. Shavlik Randolph – Randolph also played for the Celtics last season. When Jared Sullinger had to miss the rest of the season in order to undergo back surgery and Chris Wilcox struggled to recover from injury, Randolph absorbed the minutes of his injured teammates. Randolph fits well with the Pacers defensive-minded culture. Last season in 12.4 minutes per game, he averaged 4.2ppg and 4.3 rpg.
What are your recommendations for the Pacers final two roster spots? Should the Pacers finalize their roster before camp, or try out a few camp invites? Would it be better to leave the spots open in case an opportunity arises during the season?