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Pacers brain trust says re-signing David West is priority No. 1

Jun 13, 2013, 12:48 PM EDT

Donnie Walsh, Kevin Pritchard AP

The Indiana Pacers came into this season looking like as legitimate a threat to the Miami Heat as there was in the East (we had them with the two seed in our preseason predictions), but with no Danny Granger there were questions about how the team would respond and score.

Turns out, the Pacers without Granger were still very good — 49 regular season wins then they pushed Miami all the way to Game 7 of the conference finals.

The off-season plans for the team? First, keep everyone. Starting with free agent David West.

“He’s our priority No. 1,” Team president Donnie Walsh said at a press conference Thursday. “We want David back, we think he’s one of the anchors of our team. He’s a terrific player and we want him back.”

“I would add one thing to that,” Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard said. “He knows that we’re in a great position going forward. He’s priority No. 1 and come July 1 we will have a lot of conversations.”

July 1 is the first day teams can talk to free agents about new deals. West has said he wants to return to the Pacers, but you can be sure other teams will come calling.

But the Pacers can’t just bring back the same guys and expect to step past the Heat. They need some depth.

“I think we can get better shooting, as every team in the league can get,” Walsh said. “I think we could get a defensive player or two at different positions, playmakers. So we’re looking at those elements.”

Some of those come in the form of a healthy Danny Granger, who is expected to be healthy next season after missing one due to knee surgery.

“As we move forward and Danny gets back into the lineup, whether on the bench or starting, that allows us to have one more player that has a lot of experience out there.”

The buzz around the league is that the Pacers may shop Granger this summer, and more at the deadline. The reason is money. Paul George is on his rookie deal next season but will get a max extension this summer (kicking in for the 2014-15 season) and with that the Pacers are going to have to look to trim salary somewhere down the line. Granger could help bring in the depth they need and save money, but the Pacers are not rushing into a decision.

The other question over this team — is Larry Bird coming back to replace Walsh as team president? Walsh is okay with the idea, but he doesn’t know.

“I don’t know what Larry wants to do,” Walsh said. “It remains what I said since the day I got here and probably every day since, that I’d love to see him come back. He knows he can come back.”

  1. gmsingh123 - Jun 13, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Coming up with a list of priorities is priority no. 2.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 13, 2013 at 2:46 PM

      in other words he’s gone.

  2. tcclark - Jun 13, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    keeping Both David West and Danny Granger has to be a priority. This team was one win away from an NBA Finals Appearance without their go-to scorer from the beginning of the season. I understand the idea that you need to save money, but his contract runs up at the end of the year anyway. They can build depth in the draft. has them taking Tim Hardaway Jr. and Ryan Kelly with their picks. Those two guys would help tremendously. Adding them coupled with Granger and the Pacers have a team that can beat the Heat.

    A starting line-up of George Hill, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West, and Roy Hibbert would be tough for the Heat to guard. If Lebron takes Paul George, that leave 6’4 Dwayne Wade covering 6’8 Danny Granger and the defensively hilarious Heat front court guarding David West and Roy Hibbert. Not good for Miami.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 13, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      too bad the Heat won that game, you have to start over in the playoffs every year so
      good luck with your big ideas.

      • tcclark - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:26 PM

        I’m not even a Pacers fan. I’m just giving my honest opinion. The teams have met two years in a row now and as the Pacers players begin to emerge like George and Hibbert the Heat players are beginning to fade, like Wade and Bosh. All I’m saying is keeping the players they have will do wonders for them. Danny Granger is better than anyone they could get this off season and a lineup with 4 players 6’8 or taller would be tough to beat.

      • bchapman2011 - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:07 PM

        Hope you are not a Heat fan and talking that kind of smack…..Heat are not going to win this year. They are capped out with little to no contract flexibility and Wades career is over. The future is not bright for Miami. This core group of players will only end up winning the one ring a far cry from what they proclaimed at their initial press conference.

    • unxpexted1 - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      Paul George and Granger do not play very well together. And moving George to a 2 out of his natural position is a mistake.

      • tcclark - Jun 13, 2013 at 8:15 PM

        It’s a whole different offense with Paul George as the go to player. You’re making your judgement based on the team Indiana was at the beginning of the year when Granger was the go to player and George was often times the 4th option. That’s not the case anymore. Danny has stated that he is open to letting the younger players take the lead and understands that he’s not 25 anymore.

        As for George’s natural position – the 2 and the 3 are very similar positions. They’re almost identical really, just different sides of the court. George has played the 2 with Granger at the 3 in the past and very few players have a difficult time playing one position over the other. Andre Iguodala had issues playing the 2 in Philadelphia, but played it just fine in Denver. The only trouble really comes when defense is involved. Dwayne Wade is a 2 instead of a 3 because he can’t guard taller players. George doesn’t have that problem.

  3. brianjoates - Jun 13, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    A healthy granger is a top level nba talent. It feels like there is going to be a lot of change this off-season throughout the league.

  4. sportsnut101 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    They still need a pg n bench scoring Hill was bad. West needed to score in the heat series

  5. bchapman2011 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    Priority #1 should be getting the “brain trust” that helped build your roster back. Bring Bird back and let him work his magic.

  6. pistolpete0903 - Jun 13, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    As much as I was impressed with Paul George in the playoffs, I am not completely sold on him.

    Would like to see how his game evolves now that he would be among the hunted.
    If I were the Pacers, I would keep Granger. Maybe lLook for a 3 point shooter come mid-season trade.

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