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What's Next For Indiana Pacers With NBA Lockout Tentatively Over?

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How u?

Me? I'm still a bit numb, trying to digest the news that the NBA lockout is over. 

Well, tentatively over (excuse me while I flinch) as the deal must be ratified by the owners and players. The doors to Conseco Fieldhouse remain locked to the players and nothing of note can happen until the deal is officially done, but according to reports, both sides are treating that like a formality at this point.

As Chris Sheridan reports, the owners gave enough on key system issues to give the players incentive to shake hands on the deal. This is not going to be an earth-shifting, league-altering deal more in line with the NFL or NHL labor agreements. The Indiana Pacers will still have to manage their team differently than the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks or Chicago Bulls. But the changes won't hurt the Pacers and should help improve the financial standing of the team as the league grows (and shares) more revenue.

Honestly, though, I just don't have it in me to complain about the deal. Hopes for drastic system changes were dashed a few David Stern ultimatums ago, so knowing that, I've just been desperately hoping for a season this year and now it looks like that will happen.

Brad Wells has a nice breakdown of the initial reports on the deal and how it isn't ideal for the Pacers, while Tom Ziller is updating this stream by breaking down the key points of the new deal as they are reported. As with any deal of this magnitude, neither side, not the competing factions among both sides, will be fully satisfied with the deal.

So what's next for the Pacers?

For starters, the salary cap will remain at $58 million despite the big drop in the BRI split for the players. If the luxury tax threshold remains the same at $68 million that would give the Pacers a little more than $30 million in cap space to spend. The minimum team payroll is set at $49 million.

The Pacers won't look to blow all of their cap space this year unless a big trade or two requires it. Of course, as Mike Wells mentions, the Pacers are looking at the usual suspects at power forward, with the most common name being David West. As always, the price must be right.

Wells also brings up the possibility of filling that PF need in a trade with the Utah Jazz for Paul Millsap. The Jazz have excess power forwards so nabbing Millsap would be a nice move that could preserve that cap space at the same time. Millsap has two years remaining on his contract at about $7 million per year.

(Isn't this fun?)

The power forward situation is just the start since the Pacers have five roster spots to fill in total and could use help at any position. Larry Bird recently reiterated that the Pacers aren't going to be a team that can rely on attracting two superstar players to build around so they will be focused on quality depth and a bench capable of gong ten deep to play as they did against the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs with fresh bodies coming off the bench to force opponents to work hard for all 48 minutes.

This type of game plan worked well for the Dallas Mavericks as they used their bench to turn momentum throughout the playoffs en route to a NBA championship. Of course, the Mavs had plenty of money tied up in their bench and a major league superstar, but with young players developing together, the Pacers hope to build on depth as a strength while keeping their salary cap healthy.

December 9th appears to be the big date when the free agent period will begin along with training camp. Yep, this is going to be nuts.