While the beastly teams of the NBA started off the free-agent signing period with a bang, a blast and a bomb, the Indiana Pacers are holding steady, waiting for some of the mid-tier free agents to fall into their laps.
Although players such as Ron Artest, Trevor Ariza, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Marcin Gortat are already out of the free-agent market, plenty of great talent remains available for the Pacers to look at for the next month. Did I write great? Umm, yeah, I meant good. Err, maybe just OK. Either way, the point is to add somebody who will address the needs of the Pacers, which is a team in need of almost everything. But which players should the Pacers give their extra $8 million in cap space to?
There are a few people I could see the Pacers chasing. Team president Larry Bird has said the Pacers are still looking to fill holes at the point and swing positions, as well as adding depth in the frontline. So, just like heading into the draft, the Pacers are looking for everything. Here are several players still available who could fill some, but not all, needs for the Pacers.
Andre Miller (76ers) - The point guard situation is still murky for the Pacers. When you can't decide on a starter (whether it's T.J. Ford or Jarrett Jack) it creates an inconsistency at the most important leadership spot on the floor. I hate not knowing who is the starting point guard each game. Resigning Jack would be great, as he's the consummate player who can always be called upon in time of battle, but he's not really a starter. He's more Travis Best than Mark Jackson. Here's where somebody like Miller could really pay dividends.
The veteran leadership, strong court presence and scoring ability from Miller would certainly lock him into the starting role for the Pacers for at least two or three seasons. The only problem - and it happens to be a big one - is the money. The Philadelphia Inquirer said that Miller is looking for a 3-year, $10 million per-year deal. So the only way the Pacers have a chance is a sign-and-trade. You know, I've heard Jamaal Tinsley loves Philadelphia. Yet, however the Pacers could do it, adding Miller would relieve many point guard issues on the team. You could re-sign Jack, allowing the Pacers to use Ford as a trade bait, or let Jack go if the price is too high and play Ford at back-up for one season, or include Ford in the sign-and-trade. There are lots of options. Although it seems like Miller has been around since the dawn of time, he is only entering his tenth season (age: 33) and his stats have yet to decline. Other teams interested in Miller include his current team in Philadelphia, Portland and Memphis. It'd be a stretch for the team to get him, and it would eat up a lot of the Pacers money this summer, but when you can get the chance to find a starting point guard, you have to look at it. (2008-09 stats: 36 mpg, 16.3 ppg, 6.5 apg)
Anthony Carter (Nuggets) - After being linked to Gortat right as the free-agency period began, Indiana is reportedly showing an interest in Carter. Perhaps being looked at as a backup plan in case the Pacers can't afford to keep Jack, Carter would provide veteran leadership to a team severely lacking it. Carter's stats won't jump off the page, but if the plan is to make Ford the full-time starter, or make some trades to completely turn over the point guard position (see: Miller), then Carter could be a solid backup. (2008-09 stats: 22.9 mpg, 5.3 ppg, 4.7 apg)
Dahntay Jones (Nuggets) - Along with Carter, the Pacers are reportedly interested the guard from Denver. Jones started 71 games for the Nuggets last year, but he averaged only 18 minutes per contest so although he was a starter he didn't get starter minutes. His defense is what earned him a starting spot and if the Pacers could pick him up cheap, he could be a Band-aid until Dunleavy returns. Jones would also epitomize the idea of "bargain shopping" which Bird is so keen on doing this summer. (2008-09 stats: 18.1 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
Paul Millsap (Jazz) - It would probably take all $8 million and more to get him, but it would still be nice to see the Pacers reach out to him. As a backup to Carlos Boozer, Millsap put up great numbers on a great team and was a force in the paint. His size, 6-foot-8, wouldn't add much height to the Pacers' frontcourt, but it would add plenty of depth and strength. If you want a taller DeJuan Blair, then here's a chance to get him. He is also only 24 years old. (2008-09 stats: 30 mpg, 13.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg)
Allen Iverson (Pistons) - Yes, I owned an A.I. jersey in 1997. Yes, he was my favorite player not on the Indiana Pacers. Yes, that affected my decision to put him on this list. I know he destroys contenders and is a one-man show, but I think he is just what the Pacers need - a charismatic, star that will be handed the starting guard spot and will be the offensive compliment to Danny Granger. The Pacers are not a championship contender, so borrowing Iverson for two years to help us just even sniff the playoffs would be a good move. It's absolutely, positively doubtful that Bird would ever want a player such as Iverson (who has always had a disdain for practice) but maybe with the already great work ethic of current Pacers players, maybe one bad apple won't hurt anybody. Maybe? Anybody? Probably not. But, remember, we dealt with Tinsley for eight years, so you can only go up from there. Reports say that Memphis and Chicago are the only suitors for Iverson right now. (2008-09 stats: 36.7 mpg, 17.5 ppg, 5.0 apg)