The Indiana Pacers are heading into this offseason where there are several big-name free agents available that could play big roles in a team that competed a lot sooner than expected. The Pacers were expected to miss or nearly miss the playoffs in their first season of the post-Paul George era, but they snagged the five seed and pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven tight games. The team is expected to have the fourth most cap space this offseason and will be looking to move up the standings in the Eastern Conference, but, with a gluttony of super teams already in place, they should look to avoid some of the quick fix players available. We’re going to avoid players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and other players they either won’t afford or won’t pursue.
New Orleans Pelicans Center Demarcus Cousins
The Pacers already feature Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Thaddeus Young, although Young may opt out this offseason, in their frontcourt. Cousins is coming off an Achilles tear and wouldn’t be a good fit for a team looking to develop their young big men. Myles Turner, although he regressed in year three, has the potential to develop into one of the top frontcourt players in the NBA due to his ability to stretch the floor while also being a strong defender. Sabonis excelled in his second year in the NBA and bringing in Cousins would further block that development. Cousins may get a max contract offer this offseason, but, if he doesn’t, the Pacers still should avoid him. Cousins is an All-NBA talent level player, but this isn’t a team that needs his set of talents.
Orlando Magic Power Forward Aaron Gordon
Gordon is the free agent that has been one of, if not the, most commonly linked free agent to the Pacers all season long. However, through four seasons, Gordon has yet to justify the high price tag that is projected to be on him this summer. He, like Cousins, doesn’t fit with this team. He would create an additional frontcourt logjam, while also making the team less effective at what it does best. Victor Oladipo, the team’s unquestioned star, works best on his way to the hoop, and Gordon has yet to develop a consistent three-point shot, shooting a lowly 30.9% for his career. Gordon is an exciting prospect due to his high-flying nature, but the Pacers should allow one of the teams in the bottom part of the league to attempt to get him to reach his potential.
Oklahoma City Thunder Small Forward Paul George
After being named to the All-Star game, albeit as an alternate, and possibly on his way to a second or third-team All-Pro, George’s stock has shot way up. Rumors have circulated in recent weeks of a possible reunion between George and the team that drafted him. However, GM Kevin Pritchard stated without saying how that would be a bad decision. He was quoted as saying, “I would want to know first that he would fit us. We’re different now.” Pritchard would not come out publicly to say that the team would completely spurn George if he were interested in reuniting, but he made it clear before last season that he did not want to be there after this season anyway, which is why he was traded. George would slot in at small forward, which is a weakness for the team, but George didn’t want to be here then and the team is much different now.
The Pacers showed this season that they are not going away quietly and they are here to compete. They pushed LeBron and the Cavs to seven games, but they ultimately came up short and need more help to get over the hump next season. However, these are three players they need to avoid when making their pitches to free agents this summer.
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