The Pacers future
The Pacers could still win game five and force it back to Miami for a game six, but it's clear this team isn't ready to win a championship. That's been clear for months with their up and down play. The Pacers have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but that's due to the weakness of the conference. The Pacers have been a mess for months. I've never seen such a collapse by a team. You have to really question their mental toughness and maturity.
With that being said, what should they do going forward? Paul George is the face of the franchise. Despite his struggles with his shooting consistency and aggressiveness, there's no doubt he's a two way star (not a superstar...). He's only 24 years old and has a TON of room to grow both mentally and physically. He'll finish this season on 2nd/3rd Team All NBA and 1st/2nd Team Defense.
- Should the team keep Frank Vogel? IF not, who should be considered to coach the team? Bird clearly wants a coach who's tougher on his players and who can get more out of them offensively.
- Roy Hibbert. This guy was dominant defensively the first half of the season and respectable offensively. Then he just disappeared. Should the Pacers try to figure out what's wrong and stick with him or look to trade him?
- Lance Stephenson. He's clearly talented, but he's immature. Who calls out Dwyane Wade and then LeBron James? Should the Pacers resign him? He seems to be Bird's favorite player on the team.
- The roster. Clearly their needs to be upgrades. George Hill isn't a point guard, plus he has his own questions to answered why he seemed to not care the second half of the season. The bench is garbage for a second straight year, with players from last year's bench having breakout seasons on other teams. Bird has tied up all of the team's money into George, Hibbert, West and Hill, so most moves would have to be via trade.
What do you think this team should do?
I told everyone they could not win a championship this year and told you this again at the beggining in the playoffs, the heat will close the series on wednesday.. Now I think a coaching change should happen, let's be real Vogel did not make any adjustement in this series, did not exploit what was working against the heat, which was bang inside. I think he did a solid job, but they need a better coach for them to contend.
I think it is imperative that they keep Lance, people think PG is their most important player, but Lance brings so much to the table, agressiveness, emotion, physicality, he's as valuable as PG. You resign him.
You try to sign a passing first point guard, and keep Hibbert for a part of next year, maybe the lock room drama and rumors really got to him we don't know why he fell apart, I give him another shot.
If I am Bird, everyone except for George is up for grabs. You probably can't trade George Hill because of his contract, so you need an actual pg and to let Hill be what he is which is a 6th man.You could wait out and see if Hibbert can get his stuff together next year, but I think you trade him first chance you get. He is still overpaid, not a leader, mentally weak, and not very good.
Vogel has to go. While successful I don't think he is able to get them any farther than what he has and he is not the right voice to lead them. If Vogel gets anything out of those guys that got traded, they are probably still with the team. I am not a Turner fan, but I have a hard time believing that he is absolutely useless even if Indiana may not be the right fit for him.
Well one name that could be thrown out there if we're looking at a respected coach who knows how to get his offenses going is George Karl. Ultimately, I think that Frank Vogel will remain their coach, but he really needs to change how he approaches offense in general. With their current roster, the Pacers should be trying to play more like the Spurs. What I mean by that is focusing on ball movement, cuts, pick and rolls, etc. They play way too much isolation in my opinion. I feel like they've been trying to match the Heat this series instead of playing to their strengths. Lance and Paul have shown they can get to the basket in iso sets but can also be painfully inconsistent as well. When they can't get to the bucket, the Pacers offense constantly sputters and has no fluidity.
This offseason, the Pacers really need to focus on getting a knock down 3 pointer shooter that can play next to Paul George. That might mean letting Lance walk or possibly doing a sign-and-trade with someone. But like IndianaBasketball said, PG is the face of this franchise and must be surrounded with players who can complement him best. Lance definitely can still do that when he's on, but I'm starting to wonder more and more if he's worth the headaches that he causes. For most of the season, their defense has been there, but you can't expect to take the next step when you struggle to score more than 90 points against the elite teams.
Have the Pacers already used their amnesty?
I think Vogel should be gone persoally. He's a solid coach, but it just looks like this team has completely quit on the court, and that's just unacceptable.
Ideally, they'd bring Stephenson back, but I imagine some team is going to give him an offer that's just too big for Indiana to counter. His toughness will be missed, but he's also a guy whose confidence outweighs his actual skills, and that's not really a good mix.
I honestly don't know where you go from here. I think you pretty much just have to hope that PG continues to improve and that Hibbert snaps out of it. If it's actually a PG-Hibbert rift like it's been rumored, maybe you look at moving Hibbert somewhere else and getting someone back in return, but I would imagine his value isn't exactly at its peak right now lol.
ET is gone, I think they need a PG too.. But it will be hard to keep Lance, he might bolt for the money. He has a big family and just had another kid.. Hes gonna need the money which means Indy might have to let him go.. I think they need to go after Rondo or Lowry, because GH is garbage
I think the best thing Bird could do for this team next year is take over as coach. He took the Pacers to the finals in his short stint as coach and would give this group the push it needs.
If Lance were not a free agent I would think about trading him in a package deal.
They could do a sign and trade but it would have to be straight up.
Who is the best guy out there they could get for Lance Stephenson? He couldn't get you Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony but is anyone else out there?
What about Gordon Hayward?
Hayward went to Butler. He is a little bigger than Lance, and might not be a guy who will hijack the offense.
Lance could work in Utah with Trey Burke, Favors, and those guys.
Hayward and George would give them some GREAT SIZE on the wings.
Yeah, they still need a shooter, but then you have a clear alpha dog in Paul George, the second guy in Hayward, the veteran leader and bailout guy in David West, along with the defensive anchor in Roy Hibbert.
Yeah, they need help at point guard too, so hopefully they can address that issue. I have them drafting Aaron Craft late in the second round. He would be a good player for them. He would be another Pacers type guy for them. He could be their new Haywood Workman or something. Haywood Workman and Craft sounds like a new Bob Villa show...
The Pacers have the 57th pick with the Spurs at 58 and 60. Why not try to trade down and get 58 and 60 from San Antonio? Get Aaron Craft at 58 then go BPA at 60, or go Best Player Available at 58 and hope that Aaron Craft is there at 60? They might not be able to get much at 58 but there still should be a guy there who could be their 12th or 13th man. Joe Harris is on some boards. He is a 6'6 guy who can shoot. George, Hayward, Granger, and Joe Harris could complete their wing rotation. Or, James McAdoo if they want an athletic guy who can play some 4.
But anyway, I think Gordon Hayward could fit in Indiana. He and PG are basically both small forward types, but they might be able to coexist better than PG and Lance.
I would then look at resigning Danny Granger. He is a big locker room guy and chemistry guy. He would be a good third wing behind Paul George and Gordon Hayward.
The additions of Hayward, Aaron Craft in the draft, and then the resigning of Danny Granger would really help in the Pacers' retooling.
I think they could still use some extra pieces. They could play Chris Copeland more and try to get something more out of Luis Scola, but those three guys I just mentioned would all help filling in some holes, and help to shore up their chemistry.
I would also think about doing a sign and trade with Evan Turner. Either for a draft pick (would the Thunder trade their 29th pick for ET?) or to the Grizzies maybe for Ed Davis. Ed Davis would give them a good athlete who can block shots and defend pick and rolls. The Grizzlies need some help at small forward and could use another ball handler. Ed Davis would allow the Pacers to play some small ball with Scola as their inside scorer.
Hayward, Granger, Ed Davis, Aaron Craft and Joe Harris/James McAdoo are all guys they can get. I think all four would help their team. Hayward could be the second guy next to PG. Granger would come back to be a chemistry guy and locker room leader, as well as a 6th man type from the wing spot. Craft would give them good point guard depth, and Ed Davis can add some energy and length off the bench from the power forward spot.
Their issue is at PG. They need a playmaking PG who can facilitate an offense. It would allow George to play off the ball more and his playmaking could be better in a role where he isn't a primary ball handler versus making plays against rotating defenses.
I would try to sign Kyle Lowry. Im not sure what Indiana could do in terms of money available but if they could pull off a sign n trade for Lowry they would be in good shape. I go back and forth on whether or not Stephenson should stay. I think he's talented but good lord he kills their ball movement.
If the Pacers wanted roll the dice to upgrade their point guard spot, they should look at trading George Hill and two future second round picks to the Pistons for Brandon Jennings and Chauncey Billups.
Jennings can't shoot but he can drive and dish and would give them a Lance replacement after a Lance for Gordon Hayward swap. Jennings can get his own shot and take some more scoring pressure of PG and West.
Billups would give them another veteran along with a reacquired Danny Granger. Billups can play some point or some two in small ball backcourts off the bench with CJ Watson. Billups is a good leader and he can shoot the 3 ball at a high clip.
With a Lance for Hayward swap, a trade for Brandon Jennings and Chauncey Billups (sending George Hill and two second round picks), sign and trade for Ed Davis (trading Evan Turner), picking Danny Granger back up, and drafting Aaron Craft at 58 with the Spurs' pick (along with another player at 60), I think the Pacers could do a good job retooling.
Jennings, Hayward, George, West, and Hibbert would be a good starting five. Then you can have a small ball bench with Watson, Billups, Granger, Ed Davis, and Luis Scola. Filling out their team would be Chris Copeland as a 3 point shooter, Ian Mahinmi as a solid backup center, and Aaron Craft as an ideal third string point guard type. They could add another center, preferably someone with some range, so they can do some twin towers lineups, but that would pretty much complete their team.
If Tyler Ennis slips into the 20's they should buy/trade for a late first and scoop him up. They're pretty tied up $ wise so they wouldn't be able to sign a PG, but getting one for 4 years on the rookie scale would be great. Hill can go back to what he was good at in SA being a combo off the bench.
Stephenson & Turner. I'd try to sign & trade one or both depending on what they command in free agency, get a young athletic big man so they can try to up their pace next season because that half court offense is pretty bad.
As far as Hibbert...he's a big part of their defensive identity but his inconsistency has been killer for them over the second half of the season. I'm not sure what his trade market would be with that huge contract, but rim protectors are at a premium in this league so I'm sure they could find a deal for him if they really tried. One I could think of is Eric Gordon straight up. New Orleans has a log jam at the 2 and a need for a C...a 3 man big rotation of Davis, Hibbert, and Anderson could work well. Gordon is an Indy native who can hit the 3 ball and if he ever gets healthy is great in the open court attacking the rim and getting to the foul line, all things that would help Indy get easy points. Their contracts are pretty much the same, so maybe that's an option.
Just curious, but what is it about Ennis that so many people like? What I have seen, he just looks like a solid player. He isn't going to do anything to elevate you, but he is also not going to do anything to hurt you. At best he seems like a backup pg to me.
You pretty much hit the nail on the head, but that's exactly what people like about him. He won't hurt you. On a team like Indy that has such a huge problem turning the ball over, that could be a big deal for them to have a guy that plays it so safe.
Personally, I don't see him being more than a backup or a low-end starter either, but I can see why he might be valuable to Indy.
They could really use a PG that's a little more adept at actually creating plays though. He's not really a playmaker so much as he's a Jose Calderon type where he simply knows when to get the ball to different guys. In that respect, a guy like Elfrid Payton might be a better choice. Payton is also a better defender than Ennis, and will likely be a better finisher inside.
I hope I'm wrong on Ennis and he ends up being a great starter in the NBA because I'm a big Cuse fan, but I don't really see it. Average to below average athlete, average passing, average to below average shooting, below average finishing, and average to below average defending in respect to other NBA PGs. Just doesn't seem like he'll be that good in the NBA, but we'll see.
The Pacers took a long time to rebuild the team after the Brawl in the Hall, Reggie Miller retiring, JO having injuries which stopped him being the franchise player he was. During the rebuild they drafted no higher than 9th, after they swapped a lot of players with GSW they didn't make any huge trades apart from moving JO and getting the draft rights to Big Roy Hibbert.
Patience seemed to be their virtue and under Frank Vogel they have won two divisional titles and reached two Conference Finals, so do they look to make minor tweaks or a major move to try and get over the line?
Frank would be unlucky to lose his job with the record he has had and are there any proven Championship winning coaches around I wonder. The wildcard is Larry Bird coming back downstairs to coach again, he could leave the front office to Kevin Pritchard and he still has Donnie Walsh's advice if needed but would Larry want the hassle and spotlight of coaching again I wonder.
First of all they have to decide what to do with Lance Stephenson if anyone else offers him a big money deal, do they match or not. This is a hard one as the Pacers have a strong front office and coaching set up which has helped Lance become a top player but he still has issues and there is a big difference from being a talented headache on under $1 million to a guy maybe on $10 million plus. The Pacers must have a figure in mind they will go to and if it is exceeded then maybe they step back and let Stephenson possibly blow up elsewhere. Personally I hope that he resigns and continues as a Pacer.
David West is 33 years old now and although a great locker room leader and oncourt presence he isn't the player he was so I'd assume he would stay as he'd be a bit hard to trade.
Roy Hibbert goes from being a top defensive All Star C to looking an ordinary player across this season. But he is still a quality big and would get a lot of takers but losing their defensive anchor would be a huge hole for the Pacers to fill. Also Big Roy has a player option next summer so this has to be factored in.
Personally I feel that the Pacers need to take stock, see what potential moves Kevin Pritchard can make draftwise as he has done some big stuff in the past and consider these. The other big thing is, should they wait to see what LeBron does as if he happened to move on then the whole Eastern landscape could change but regardless of where LeBron lands would it make them any nearer a title.
I think Larry Bird needs to come down and coach or sign Mark Jackson a former player, or George Karl who has always been a great coach.
I think Paul George and Lance Stephenson need to stay on the team, maybe even David West but Hibbert and Hill have to go, and Vogel has been a horrible coach.
Not only did he lose the locker room, but he's mostly a failure with his rotation, and with his adjustments.
Lance talks a lot, but that's not a problem, I think the media just need headlines, and Lance is starting to get the Artest treatment from everyone, he has a reputation now. It's the Eastern Conference Finals, unless someone says something derogatory about another player in the media, there is no such thing as bulletion board material, if you're not motivated already something is wrong with you as a competitor. He was their most consistent player in the 2nd half of the season, and even though they're down 1-3, and he played a horrible game 4, he has been their most consistent player. ESPN wrote an insider article, proving everyone wrong who called Lance a ball hog, and how The Pacers actually played better in the 2nd quarter of game 3 offensively when Lance supposedly got under Lebron's skin, and how their offense has been best with the ball in his hands.
Everyone is blaming everyone now, I find it funny most of the players through Lance under the bus after the game, Roy Hibbert blamed coach Vogel, and Paul George blamed the refs. There's no accountability and that's on the players but most importantly the coach. You didn't lose because Lance talked, you lost because you played horrible defense. I do think the Pacers got screwed on some calls on both ends of the floor, but that's not enough.
The Pacers just have too many problems as a team, no pure offensive sets, no bench, no pure point guard, a center who doesn't rebound, and a "superstar(allegedly)" who shoots 40% and can't constantly create off of the dribble. In my opinion they have outplayed Miami for 8-10 quarters of this series, they shouldn't be down 1-3. We know about game 1, that's 4 quarters, the first 3.5 quarters of game 2, and the 1 quarter and half of the 2nd in game 3. That's 9 quarters. The Pacers starters are +12 against the Heat starters in the series, but they can't sustain their offense and defense. It's the Jekyll and Hyde act, but if they lose Lance, they're like a 5 seed in the East. Change the coach and try again for the bench and you may have something.
I think its gonna be hard to keep Lance because some team is going to overpay.
Other than that, they have the same problem OKC has. They did too well in the playoffs, even though the end game of winning a title was not achieved. So they will keep their coach, and probably keep most their players in tact. But in all reality they should make some moves.
The key honestly may be George. He needs to be a STAR for them to win the title, and he needs to be a MATURE STAR. Him acting like a child and boning too many women isn't helping the team.
First thing is allowing Paul George to mature a bit more, and find consistency.
Either re-sign Lance, or look for a sign and trade for a shooter, point guard depth (Jodie Meeks is ideal).