As much as the Indiana Pacers have tried to change over the past couple of years, the fact remains we were stuck with the same ol' story the past two seasons.
After unloading Jermaine O'Neal's onerous contract, the team has continued to slog through the past two seasons with too many unattractive contracts and a roster with enough talent to beat any team on any night while at the same time lose to any team on any other night.
They've worked with the slimmest margin for error which was often closed by injuries of all sorts. How often did a sure-fire win through three quarters turn into a loss after the final buzzer? Great efforts gone awry have been the norm. While the exceptional win every once in awhile over the likes of the Celtics, Lakers or Cavaliers helped placate the faithful, the ugliness of blowouts -- see at Miami last year -- and losing streaks fueled by inconsistent play and playing rotations have been all too common.
Same players, same coach, doing the same things to produce the same type of results.
But this season, things will be quite different even if the end results in the won/loss column are similar. After the jump, take a look at some of the interesting storylines to consider as the season approaches which developed during a chat with Clark Kellogg.
Expiring Contracts- Those bulky contracts are now valuable assets since they double as cap space next summer. One has already been moved with Troy Murphy going to New Jersey as part of a deal that brought in new point guard Darren Collison and veteran swingman James Posey. How will the remaining players with expiring contracts react as the season plays out? Who will be moved?
New Players - Consider Collison and Posey fresh storyline number one to follow when looking for an instant impact on the court.
Power Forward- Will the Pacers make a move before the season starts? Will a player on the roster seize the opportunity to grab the available playing time? Can Hansbrough and Foster stay healthy? Can McRoberts consistently produce and carve out a role? Speaking of role, will Magnum Rolle be on the roster?
Granger's gold medal - How will Danny Granger's experience with Team USA impact his season? Will it show both on and off the court in his play and leadership of the team?
Dunleavy's health- Mike Dunleavy struggled last year coming off major surgery. Will his production return to pre-surgery levels? How will he handle a reduced role, if not?
T.J. Ford - Will he continue to keep quiet if he doesn't play and isn't traded? Could he possibly come in and compete for a starting role?
Brandon Rush- How will he react with his career in the balance after his drug suspension? Can he earn an extra year under contract? Why have there been so many glowing reports of his offseason work?
Roy Hibbert- He's spent his offseason becoming a fan favorite and appearing to work his butt of to develop his game. How will that work show up once the season starts?
The young players - Paul George has plenty of talent but isn't expected to make much of an impact during his rookie year. Will he work his way into a role of some sort? Lance Stephenson has the talent to play right away, but will he be allowed?
Sophs bouncing back from injury- Both Tyler Hansbrough and A.J. Price have been working their way back from injury all summer. Will they be able to play and provide the depth this team desperately needs.
As Special K put it, "There's an awful lot to chew on as we look forward to training camp time. How it plays out is part of what makes every season interesting and every training camp period worth watching especially when you've been where the Pacers have been the last three or four years."
As the season draws closer, we'll be delving into these topics a little deeper and of course looking forward to everyone's thoughts on the topics. Also, if you have any other storylines you are looking forward to following, please add them to the list in the comments.