The Indiana Pacers season ended on Sunday at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. If someone had said that line at the beginning of the season, one would have presumed that Cavs had been the one seed and swept the Pacers. However, the Cavs were outscored by 40 points in the series and consistently looked like the worse team. If it weren’t for consistent superhuman efforts by James, the Cavs very easily could have been swept. The Pacers may not have shocked the world, but they have put the rest of the NBA on notice that this young team is closer to contention than they all thought. Today, we’re going to do a quick preview of their offseason and what they have to do to successfully build on their earlier than expected success.
Avoid the Miami Heat & Portland Trailblazers Mistakes
The Heat and Blazers capped themselves out when they had a few players they thought they could win a title with, even though they weren’t close. The Pacers have never been big spenders in free agency, and this year should be no different. The team has four total options, two player and two team. The two player options belong to Thaddeus Young and Cory Joseph, which has Joseph being the more likely of the two to decline it, as he can probably get more on the open market. The two team options are on Joseph Young and Lance Stephenson. Young will probably see his option declined, but Stephenson has endeared himself to this fanbase with his charisma and tough-nosed play. Of the two free agents, Glenn Robinson III and Trevor Booker, GRIII seems to be the more likely of the two to be resigned. The team has been short on small forward depth and he works well in this offense. They can spend money this offseason, but they can’t go crazy.
Build Around their Core
Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis are the future of this team, and, although they have different skillsets, the New Orleans Pelicans are a good example that those three as a nucleus could work. Oladipo was the unquestioned number one player on this team and they will only continue to give him more leeway within the offense. However, allowing him to share the court with the other two more often, could go a long way towards moving them up in the standings. Nate McMillan may or may not be back as the coach next season, and, if he is, he has to experiment more with his best players in an effort to make this team the best it can be. They won’t go crazy in free agency, but they would be wise to add players that would help feature this group.
The Pacers are only going to get better with more time together, and the team should have the majority of their key contributors back next season. The Eastern Conference could be much different next season, as LeBron may leave Cleveland and other teams may make major trades to jump into competitiveness. If the Pacers are able to build on this season, they could easily host a playoff series, rather than being on the road in game seven.
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