Larry Bird and the Pacers front office have already signed Lavoy Allen, Damjan Rudez, Shayne Whittington and C.J. Miles in free agency, which means retaining Lance Stephenson could only be done with more moves.
The Pacers could release Luis Scola or use stretch provisions on Ian Mahinmi or Chris Copeland to free up more cap room, but those moves would mean bringing back the same core that stumbled their way into a six-game defeat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
However, if Bird and Indiana are impatient, making a major trade would drastically change the Pacers philosophy in an effort to try again to get to the NBA Finals. Moving Roy Hibbert changes everything for Indiana.
The Indiana identity has been built on defense that is centered around the 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert. The defensive scheme that tested LeBron James over the past three seasons, and allowed for Indiana to flash historically great defensive numbers has eliminated opponents’ ability to attack the rim.
Hibbert has loomed large protecting the rim for Indiana. Even when he put up 0 point, 0 rebound games, his defensive presence still made an impact.
But now, as Indiana looks to make space for Stephenson and mix up the roster, Hibbert is being shopped. Sporting News picked out Portland – since they gave Hibbert a max offer – but with the Blazers current roster construction, a Hibbert to Portland deal likely wouldn’t happen.
One thing that could make everyone untouchable is if James and Miami Heat don’t reunite.
Some of what the Pacers plan to do, then, depends on what happens in Miami. If, somehow, the Heat are not able to keep together their core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Indiana’s hopes in the East could be somewhat revitalized by the breakup of their nemesis. That could cause team president Larry Bird to ease off his desire to shake up the roster.
Three years of losing to the top dog in the East has made Larry Bird anxious to try something new.