The future looks very promising for the Indiana Pacers. They pushed the Miami Heat to the limit in the Eastern Conference Finals and even though their season ended with a thud, they are pretty excited about next year. The question now is how do they take the next step to become champions?
Resigning PF David West is a must. He probably won’t come as cheap as he did two years ago, but he’s earned a raise from his 2 year, $20 million deal. If they lose West, then they’d have to almost remodel the team completely and doing that would be difficult with so little cap room. They’ll retain SG Lance Stephenson with a very cheap option too.
SMALL, BUT INTERESTING DECISONS
Do you submit a qualifying offer on Tyler Hansbrough, or stash that cash in your back pocket hoping Miles Plumlee (or somebody not on the roster) fills the role of back-up power forward? Do you bring back FA Sam Young or DJ Augustin? I’d lean no on all of these.
DANNY GRANGER’S FUTURE
The $14 million question. That’s how much the Pacers owe their former franchise player. They paid Roy Hibbert last season and will be paying Paul George in the future. So you can keep Granger, and they may have to if he can’t prove to be healthy, and try to incorporate him into an offense where he’ll be relegated to supporting cast and no longer lead character or do you attempt to trade him and create the cap space you’ll need to help keep West and George’s growing contract?
I think you look to deal him. I am not sure Granger will be accepting of a lesser role, and possibly a spot that isn’t a starter. Plus, clearly he isn’t a long-term solution. He isn’t affordable unless he takes less than what he is worth (when healthy) on a home-town discount.
A couple of deals that make sense for Indiana (and the other team) include:
– Granger to Timberwolves in exchange for Derrick Williams and Luke Ridnour. Pacers save money, add depth, scoring, and a legit back-up point guard. Minnesota rounds out their lineup much better, adds a 3-point threat, and acquires a star they may not otherwise be able to land as a free agent.
– Granger to the Clippers in exchange for Caron Butler. It would be too greedy to expect to get Eric Bledsoe back too, but this move saves the Pacers about $6 million that they can use to keep West and add depth. Butler is a pro, and would be accepting of a 6th-man role. LA would be adding another weapon to appease Chris Paul and convince him to stay.
Also, keep in mind depending on free agency, teams like Dallas, Charlotte, and others may be willing to take Granger’s expiring deal without giving up much in return because they are under the cap. Perhaps they’d throw a young (but not great) player or two back the Pacers way. Remember Indiana got to the door-step without Granger, so they don’t need to hit a home-run if they move him, they just need to put the ball in play. Chances are they’d be forced to let him walk in 2014 for nothing, so if they can get anything to improve the team for next year (and perhaps the future) while saving some money allowing them to keep the rest of the roster they together then they should do it.
Almost regardless of what they elect to do with Granger, if West is back, and they are healthy, they’ll be in the running to win the East again, but I think trading Granger this offseason gives them the best chance of maintaining success beyond next season.