Pacers ’10-11 Preview
30 teams in 30 days.
by Chris Deaton / @umlikedude
The Indiana Pacers are slated to pay Mike Dunleavy, TJ Ford and Jeff Foster a combined $25.7 million this season. All three should be backups.
The position battle at power forward is an ACC rivalry rekindled but diluted: Tyler Hansbruh, who has 36-percent shooting and 29 NBA games to his credit, versus local kid Josh McRoberts, the favorite to win the starting job, who appears to have barrels of fundamentals and energy and all of those coach-pleasing things.
This team has no direction. The injudicious management has made it a splash painting — just a bunch of Sherwin Williams (who has fared much better than Shawne Williams) randomly dumped all over a canvas, this isn’t quite the Bob Ross treatment … but screw it! Off to the exhibition room! Since Chernobyl in Auburn Hills, the Pacers have locked themselves in purgatory; for a steep cap price, they mark the spot between bad and mediocre, denying them opportunities to snatch an immediate game-changer in the draft or a stud in free agency.
Grant Indiana this: It hasn’t been in an easy position to fully rebuild, but much of that is its own doing.
PG: Darren Collison (’09-10 stats: 76 GP, 12.4 PPG, 5.7 APG)
SG: Brandon Rush (82 GP, 9.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG)
SF: Danny Granger (62 GP, 24.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG)
PF: Josh McRoberts (42 GP, 4.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG)
C: Roy Hibbert (81 GP, 11.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG)
Collison is Indiana’s best acquisition in recent memory: a young, reliable performer for a bargain ($1.36 million this year, cheap team options afterward). And given the injury woes of former lead man Jamaal Tinsley and TJ Ford, “reliable” is hardly a backhanded compliment.
Rush and Hibbert are investments. Both were top-20 picks, but neither is an impact player — yet. While Rush needs a substantial amount of development after disappointing last season, Hibbert simply needs seasoning.
Dunleavy is a useful sixth man (albeit for $5 million too much) who has the size and skill to fill minutes at three positions. Rush will appreciate the help.
James Posey, who arrived in Indy with Collison, was a key contributor to two championship teams. Yet at 33, he’s losing his shooting legs (FG% last four years: .431, .418, .412, .365).
Ford is clearly not a long-term option for Indiana at point guard, but while he’s still a Pacer, he can help Collison get up to Jim O’Brien’s speed — and still post solid numbers taking on a decreased workload.
None. There could be some trite, borderline cliche like, “With youth comes intrigue.” But exciting duos like Boogie + ‘Reke and Steph Curry + Monta Ellis have that market cornered on the West Coast, and Indiana’s youth isn’t particularly eye-popping. Paul George, the Fresno State rookie, will have a hard time cracking the rotation, and his fellow neophyte Lance Stephenson has problems to address off the court before he can focus on the hardwood.
Plainly, Indiana is a year away from having any sort of “X-factor”, when they’ll be able to afford one. (Counting team options on Collison, Rush and Hansbruh, the team is on the hook for only $28.3 million in ’11-12.)
This stands to be another lost year for the Pacers. Collison/Granger/Hibbert is something to build on, and as Indiana continues to shed salary, it’ll be in position to retool for the future — a future that is not now.