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Jeff Foster's Retirement Leaves Long Term Pacers with Short Term Dilemma

In a perfect world, the retirement announcement of Jeff Foster would be more jovial, a chance to revisit the long-tenured big man's underrated career, a career only appreciated by Pacers fans, though truthfully, it was a career only appreciated by Pacers fans who watched the Pacers. Jeff Foster was the ultimate hustle guy. In the Hustle Guy Hall of Fame, he's first ballot. More than hustle, Foster was one of the game's premier offensive rebounders, and aside from a minor production slip late in the last decade, Foster aged with grace, only getting better in his ability to showcase the perfect level of savvy with a game changer's intelligence.

But therein lies the problem with both the retirement of Foster and the inability to have perfect endings in sports; the Pacers will have to wait on giving Jeff his proper dues because there's a game tomorrow. And one the day after that. Of course, there's also a game the day after that as well. It's time to move on, as difficult and callus as that is, because Foster's retirement, while unsurprising in the grand scope of things, leaves this team with a gaping hole Leandro Barbosa is simply incapable of filling.

While the Pacers addressed a big issue with the acquisition of Barbosa, the problem is now that the team must address a physically big issue in the absence of Foster. Quality big depth has been one of the most obvious weaknesses for this season's version of the Pacers, but Indiana has been able to gloss it over for the most part with general health beyond Foster and the nights when Lou Amundson plays well more or less erasing his transgressions because it's fun to drag out "Lou." Unfortunately, Amundson has been a stopgap backup all season, and at the end of the day, he's an undersized backup at the center position.

Then again, so is everyone on the team. Roy Hibbert is the only player left on the team above 6'9", creating a sigh of concern that the Pacers as currently constituted are simply unable to "go big." Another big issue with the lack of bigs is of course where Indiana can even go when finding help in the front court. Even if he weren't signed, the recently released J.J. Hickson is only 6'9" himself, and there certainly has to be limited excitement in bringing back retreads like Solomon Jones or David Harrison, but even they're better options than guys like Ryan Hollins.

However, the Pacers will need to make a decision in bringing in a big man, though they will be strapped with the difficult task of finding a player who can get more playing time than Jeff Pendergraph. However, Indiana standing idly by with the current front court rotation without the prospect of Jeff Foster roughing it up in the paint is simply not acceptable especially after they showed their willingness to make a postseason push this year with Leandro Barbosa.

So while the Pacers and Pacers fans should be allowed to celebrate Jeff Foster and all he did for the organization since 1999, the hole he leaves in the Indiana roster is almost as big as the hole he will leave in our hearts.