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Pacers season ends leaving hard questions about next steps

May 31, 2014, 2:00 AM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game 6 Getty Images

On paper this was a great season for the Pacers: They won 56 games, were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and made it back to the Eastern Conference Finals. A lot of teams would take a season like that faster than you can hit the mute button when those DirecTV mannequin commercials come on.

But in reality this Pacers season felt like a missed opportunity. They entered the season with high expectations then exceeded them to start the season going 33-7, but things started to come unglued around the All-Star break, they stumbled down the stretch of the regular season going 9-14 to close out the year. In the playoffs they needed seven games to get by the 38-win Hawks then looked like they might not get by the Wizards, but did.

Then the Heat reminded the again how big a gap there is between the Pacers and contending, particularly with the blowout Game 6 win.

Indiana enters this offseason knowing that if they return with this same core group of players they will get the same result as the last two years (if even that good). It’s fair to argue this team played mentally soft ball. There need to be changes. There are some very difficult off-season questions to answer.

Does Indiana bring back unrestricted free agent Lance Stephenson?

Can Frank Vogel lead this team to the next level?

Do the Pacers need a more traditional point guard/someone who can create more shots for himself and others?

The problem is, it will not be easy to change this core.

The Pacers have committed to $64.9 million in salary for next season, which is already over the projected $63.2 million salary cap (data via Sham Sports). Roy Hibbert is set to make $14.8 million (and no, the Pacers are not going to trade him, they couldn’t get anywhere near equal value back), Paul George is owed $13.7 million, David West $12 million, George Hill $8 million. The Pacers are not going to bring Evan Turner back and Luis Scola could be bought out to save a few million (his deal has a buyout for just under $1 million) but that still isn’t going to open up much money.

All this ties Larry Bird’s hands — there is no easy way to just pick up a free agent.

All those big contracts will it hard to find a trading partner — George Hill has three years and $24 million left and nobody is going to be eager to take that deal on, for example.

Which is why, despite his antics, the Pacers may bring back Lance Stephenson, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer. The question is what does his return cost? He seems like the kind of player some GM will offer four years, $40 million to and gamble on his maturing. Because giving a young player $40 million always helps them mature. Still Stephenson is on the top of everyone’s “guy who is going to get overpaid this summer” list.

If the Pacers bring him back at $10 million a season they will be getting close to the luxury tax line — and all that without having a superstar player on the roster (unless you want to sell that Paul George is one, good luck with that).

But if Stephenson walks, then who will the Pacers count on to create shots? The limitations of George Hill and Roy Hibbert to create their own looks will be all that more glaring. For all his erratic play, Stephenson makes plays, set up passes and he is aggressive… most of the time. In Game 6 against the Heat he was very aggressive up until he got the technical on Norris Cole, then Stephenson largely disappeared.

I think the Pacers could use a more traditional point guard (I wasn’t in that camp until recently), someone who can be a floor general and set up Hibbert better in the post, or create shots for others off the bounce. They need a calming influence.

But they are going to have to give to get — someone like Ian Mahinmi will have to be on the block. The Pacers will have to sacrifice some size and defense to improve their roster.

If they don’t, next season isn’t going to look any better than this one.

  1. zackd2 - May 31, 2014 at 3:53 AM

    “Elite rim protector” getting paid 15m a year, who alternates games of 0 points and 2 rebounds.

    • realfootballfan - May 31, 2014 at 3:57 AM

      I still don’t understand why they paid Hibbard that kind of money. It was as silly as the Knicks giving Chandler that contract he got. Unless a big man is special (i.e. Shaq, Olajuwon, etc), you hand them a decent $7 or $8 mil contract and call it a day. Otherwise, let them walk and replace them with another stiff tall guy. Elite wing players who play both ends of the court are what win today unless you have one of those elite big men, and this league hasn’t seen one of those in almost 10 years now.

      • tomasekradek - May 31, 2014 at 6:07 AM

        So you would pay Noah, Dwight, Cousins etc. $7-8 mil? You better get back to being real football fan and stop talking about the game you don’t understand

      • cruzan80 - May 31, 2014 at 7:32 AM

        Chandler changed the entire identity of the Knicks defense or lack thereof. He also brought leadership & championship experience coming fresh off beating the Heat in the Finals. He also won the Defensive Player of the Year award in his 1st season there as well.

        Bottom line, he was indeed worth much more to the Knicks than Hibbert is to the Pacers.

      • realfootballfan - May 31, 2014 at 7:44 AM

        I din’t say Chandler didn’t make the Knicks better, but he’s their second option by default because of his salary. their hands are tied from getting another superstar to go with Carmelo, and I would question giving Carmelo so much just because he doesn’t play both ends of the court consistently; however, he is an elite scorer, which has to count for something.

      • redbaronx - May 31, 2014 at 9:54 AM

        @realfootballfan – Comparing Chandler to Hibbert is like comparing Dwight Howard to JaVale McGee. Don’t go there. I read your post below about Chandler being the “2nd Option”. That’s not what he is and never has been. Chandler gives you basic offense but anchors the defense in a way that Hibbert could only dream of. The thing that hampers the Knicks isn’t Chandler’s contract, but Stoudamire’s who has given them nothing and was a bad contract to begin with for a player with a history of injury problems.

      • cruzan80 - May 31, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        You’re getting worst with each post.

        “but he’s their second option by default because of his salary.”

        Chandler is their 3rd highest paid player BEHIND Carmelo & Amare….

    • realfootballfan - May 31, 2014 at 7:26 AM

      You’re kind of slow. Most people could deduce that Dwight Howard was the big man who came into the league 10 years ago. Obviously, he’s got a contract these days. You go ahead and pay Noah and Cousins max money. They’re good players, but they’re not going to win you a championship without significant pieces around them. Those guys with a couple of superstar wing players or even just one wing superstar with alot of efficient good players could win something, but saying you would pay them in such a range to be your top 1 or 2 option, you’re the one who needs to stick to what you know. That’s exactly how the Bulls got in their stagnant state before injuries killed them by paying Carlos Boozer who was the same level of player a few years ago like he was a superstar.

      And nice tired joke, since alot of us read PFT before these sites linked up. You want me to make a realBasketballfan profile so you don’t have to make the lame joke again because otherwise, I’m sure I know more about basketball than you do?

      • zoomy123 - May 31, 2014 at 8:22 AM

        You have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • tomasekradek - Jun 1, 2014 at 7:14 AM

        yeah, i know, lame jke… so don’t take it too seriously. you pobably know more about basketball than me and you definitely should since i’m from small european country, never had a chance to watch NBA game on my own eyes, even never been to states. but one thing i definitely know – guys like the ones i mentioned are worth much more than $7-8mil no matter which option they are

    • jpstyles314 - May 31, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      Holy **** I need to stop drinking. I don’t usually use my Facebook page, but I posted another rough draft on it… It makes as much sense as this post (Non)

      • jimeejohnson - May 31, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        Switch over to the kind herb. Alcohol is the white man’s death!

  2. realfootballfan - May 31, 2014 at 3:53 AM

    Stephenson is only gone if he gets a big contract, which is why his antics were sillier for him than anyone. Everyone was watching tonight in the league, and teams thinking about offering him much are pumping the brakes now, especially considering that Larry Bird personally told him to knock it off, yet he continued to be a clown. Rondo would fix alot of their offensive stagnation problems although I don’t know who’d back him up without Stephenson back; however, I don’t think Ainge makes that deal unless he destroys the Pacers on the compensation. They’re in a pretty good bind with the Bulls optimistic that Rose will finally be back, the Wizards and other middling teams improving over the second half of the season, and this group coming up empty after their stated goal didn’t help the results. That has to be mentally shattering.

  3. jimthebuilder27 - May 31, 2014 at 4:00 AM

    Paul George is starting to be someone to build around but this team is kinda overrated. Hibbert is terribly inconsistent, Hill is average at best and Stephenson is a head case.

    Still got some catching up to do guys!

    • zoomy123 - May 31, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      Paul George is almost as inconsistent as Roy Hibbert. Before that monster second half in game 5 he had 4 points in the first half. And in games 2 + 3 he shot a combined 9 of 29 for 30 points. Towards the latter half of the season it was clear that Paul George was regressing to the mean and was plagued by inconsistency problems.

  4. antistratfordian - May 31, 2014 at 4:34 AM

    Hey, I like that one DirectTV commercial where the puppet girl is like, “Yeah, you like that? You like what you see?”

    In any case, did anyone else see Paul George’s response to a question about whether he wants Lance Stephenson back as a teammate next year? He hesitated for a second and said, “I mean, I don’t know.”

    That explains a lot.

    • realfootballfan - May 31, 2014 at 7:29 AM

      Yea, the whole team hates Stephenson although that’s not why they lost. The Heat are simply better, and that Hibbard contract is going to make it very difficult for them to improve enough in the near future because I doubt they can move it.

      • antistratfordian - May 31, 2014 at 6:11 PM

        It didn’t sound like David West hates Stephenson. And they shouldn’t have too much trouble moving Hibbert, if that’s what they want to do.

  5. ProBasketballPundit - May 31, 2014 at 5:10 AM

    If Indy could just undo their recent trades; get Kawhi Leonard, Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green and maybe even Granger back… they’d be in better shape. Then they’d just need a couple decent ball handling point guards.

    Actually, this team is constructed perfectly on defense. That’s all you can really say about their past 3 seasons. Only reason they fell apart defensively in 2014 is because everybody’s attitude went to crap after they weren’t getting their offensive touches/stats.

    • zoomy123 - May 31, 2014 at 8:41 AM

      I didn’t even realize Gerald Green was on the Pacers last year. How could Gerald Green go from a bench warmer on the Pacers to fairly good in Phoenix? There’s something fundamentally wrong with that team on the offensive end and George Hill isn’t the source of it–he’s only a symptom.

      • ProBasketballPundit - May 31, 2014 at 8:44 AM

        Agreed. Coach Hornacek seemed to get the best out of his guys and had them playing to their strengths while Vogel seems to get a lot less out of guys offensively than you’d expect. Even DJ Augustin was a productive NBA player once he got out of Indy.

  6. campcouch - May 31, 2014 at 6:20 AM

    It’s not like the Heat have been the dominant power in the East for 12 years. These guys have been together for just 4 years and suddenly they need to be unseated because Indy had two good runs? The NBA has a history of challengers to the throne and it takes a few times to finally take it. The Pistons weren’t ripped apart because they couldn’t beat Boston,the Bulls didn’t trade off everyone because Detroit was running them. The Pacers are still a young team,there’s no need to freak out. Unfortunately,they’ve arrived during the reign of James,Wade and Bosh plus a sure HOFer in Ray Allen and bench players that started on other teams. Another year or two and they might replace the Heat…unless Washington steps it up before them.

    • zoomy123 - May 31, 2014 at 8:50 AM

      The Pistons ascended because Bird got injured and the Knicks, not Detroit, knocked the Celtics out of the first round in 1990. And the Bulls ascended, of course, because they got lucky and traded for Scottie Pippen. So, unless Lebron, Wade or Bosh gets seriously injured or Indiana hits the jackpot and gets another All-Star caliber player, they’re gonna be stuck losing to Miami for the next 2-3 years at least. How can a GM justify losing in the playoffs with the same team for 5-6 years in a row?

      • redbaronx - May 31, 2014 at 10:13 AM

        @zoomy123 – The Bulls didn’t get “lucky” anymore than they did in obtaining Bill Cartwright via trade, John Paxson via trade, Toni Kukoc, Harper etc. The Bulls made smart moves to build a championship team that won 3 rings in a row…twice!

        Also, it’s far from certain that Wade is going to be able to maintain his level of play another 2-3 years. The Bulls and the Wizards with a trade or two might be able to compete with Miami next year even if Miami does stay healthy. You have to remember Miami is going to be losing a lot of guys this year to retirement, and this is not going to be the same team next year around the core of the big three. That means adjustments at least.

      • zoomy123 - May 31, 2014 at 1:50 PM

        Are you comparing Cartwright, Paxson, Kukoc, and Harper to Scottie Pippen? During the ’87 draft nobody was talking about Pippen as a potential game-changer or perennial All-Star because nobody knew that he would turn out to be one of the top 10 two-way players of all time. He wasn’t projected to be that kind of player. So it’s not hyperbole to say the Bulls hit the jackpot. (

        Washington will not be competing to de-throne Miami for at least 2 years. They’re simply not ready, especially their bench. Chicago, if Derrick Rose gets healthy and returns to his former MVP caliber and if they get another great shot-creator, will compete next year. But Rose’s health is in greater doubt than Wade’s.

        As for Miami losing “a lot of guys this year to retirement,” that’s overblown. The only veteran retiring will be Battier. Haslem + Allen probably play for 1 more year. But also remember that the Big 3 will be opting out and taking less money. If they re-sign for $15-16 M each, they’ll be able to re-sign Chalmers, Allen, and add 1 or 2 impact role players and still remain under the luxury tax line.

      • redbaronx - Jun 1, 2014 at 5:00 PM

        @zoomy123 – Uh, that’s exactly the point dude! Nobody knew Pippen was going to be that good! So yeah if you want to say the Bulls got lucky from the perspective of Pippen turning into an All Star, I’ll buy that. But the Bulls had good scouting and good franchises make their own luck. (See Spurs, Utah)

        As far as the retirements go, don’t bank on Battier being the only retirement. And even if he is, how much do you think Rashard, Haslem, Chris Anderson, Ray and co have left in the tank? Ray and Haslem are the only two I might even WANT to keep if I were GM.

        Resigning Chalmers also shouldn’t be seen as some big lift. At best that’s standing pat. In general it’s pretty plain to see that unless the Heat actually add someone significant and do major number manipulation (which outside of Bosh isn’t certain at all), the Heat will regress next year while everyone else gets better.

      • zoomy123 - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:52 PM

        If nobody knew that Pippen was going to be that good, then how can you argue that it was Chicago’s scouting that caused them to go after Pippen? A lot of teams including Chicago thought Pippen was a great talent, which is why Seattle drafted him. Chicago was simply lucky that Pippen became a perennial All-Star.

        The whole point of Miami having the big 3 is that it doesn’t take them much for them to be contenders. Miami’s role players were awful in 2011 and they still made it to the Finals by beating both Chicago and Boston in 5 games.

        Right now the only two players who will definitely retire are Battier and Lewis. Haslem will pick up his player option, Birdman is already under contract, and Allen will play for 1 more year. And despite who you would want to keep, this playoffs have shown that Birdman and Allen are still impact players off the bench. To argue with that is simply to argue against facts and evidence. Also, I never said that Chalmers would be a big lift, you just put those words in my mouth. However, Chalmers is a critical piece of the puzzle that they can’t let walk in free agency.

        So, going forward Miami will have the big 3 + Chalmers, Cole, Birdman, Haslem + Allen. I don’t know what “major number manipulation” you’re talking about, but like I said if the big 3 all opt out and re-sign for $15-16 M a year (which is entirely reasonable), they will have enough money to resign Chalmers and Allen + add 2 impact players like Kris Humphries and Anthony Morrow and still stay under the luxury tax. If Miami does that then I don’t see anybody except maybe Chicago being able to compete next year.

  7. jcf78 - May 31, 2014 at 6:22 AM

    Hahaha lance Stephenson and the Indiana pushovers got man handled!

    If it wasn’t for the 5 fourths on Lebron in game 5 this would’ve ended in Indy!

    Put Haslam in a ring with lance, let Haslam beat that punk

    • moppop - May 31, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      I didn’t know fourths was a stat counted in basketball. You learn something new everyday.

  8. haaaaasoooooo - May 31, 2014 at 6:42 AM

    The problems between Hibbert n George are what killed their season. What a waste. Impressive work guys. And if Indiana can find anyone to take his contract, I think they dump Hibbert, if only to clear their locker room. And if they do dump Roy??? I bet he has an awesome season where ever he ends up.

    • redbaronx - May 31, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      @ha – Dumping Hibbert is next to impossible unfortunately for the Pacers. There are actually some nice free agents that might be intriguing at center if they could get rid of Hibbert. Greg Monroe comes to mind, and he would cost a lot less!

  9. rodge1 - May 31, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    I literally LOL’d when Mark Jackson asked JVG what Vogel should tell the Pacers at halftime last night and JVG said, “it’s been a great year guys”….. Hilarious

    • redbaronx - May 31, 2014 at 10:18 AM

      @rodge1 – Yeah I think JVG had the comment of the year with that one! I was cracking up.

  10. haaaaasoooooo - May 31, 2014 at 6:53 AM

    And I wouldn’t want Stephenson any where near my team.
    I mean: my rec league team COULD use him, but we aren’t giving him a big contract, and he would have to put his cash in on the table just like everyone else for the post game beers at the local bar!

  11. sportsfan18 - May 31, 2014 at 7:00 AM

    Well, the Pacers are younger than the Heat’s trio… could keep the core together and WAIT the Heat out… Indy’s starting 5 is young.

    Will be able to beat them EVENTUALLY… when D Wade is really hobbled and LBJ is in his 30’s etc…

    Yeah, am being sarcastic for those of you who don’t get it…

  12. lenbias34pt - May 31, 2014 at 7:16 AM

    “guy who will get over paid”??????

    Lance is a character, but for God sake he is committed to winning.
    He is in great shape, plays as hard as possible and isn’t willing to bend over to Lebron and any other star in the league.

    O yea, and has any NBA player improved as much as Lance over the last 4 years?

    The Guy WORKS.
    He isnt’ a conformist……….if he leaves Indiana the pacers will suffer and I promise you where ever he may wind up will improve.
    The guy WORKS.
    If style and conformity are important to you , look else where.
    Hey Paul George and Hibbs are well liked by opponents! Stick with them.

    • goodtogo28 - May 31, 2014 at 8:13 PM

      he’s gone. bird told him to knock it off and he didn’t. wrong guy to undermine.

  13. vstyle23 - May 31, 2014 at 7:41 AM

    I’m with you on Lance. He wood up to LeBron unlike others. Lebrons still soft so it almost worked. Game five wasn’t a fluke.

    I think two main guys have to go. HIbbs and coach Vogel. Hibbs has to be one of the worst offensive centers in the league but they kept going through him. Why? He was always known for his D untill they gave him that contract. Now they want him to score, he can’t!! He looks horrible.

    Coach is a good guy but not the right personality for those guys. He seems to be a players coach but they need no messin around kind of guy. Like a Pop, coach K, Alvin G king of coach. West is way too tough to have anything less. Lance will only listen to a tough coach. And a tough coach would go ahead and hurt Hibberts feelings about his offensive ability and keep going. I think Larry bird should coach them

    • redbaronx - May 31, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      @vstyle23 – I’m no LeBron fan, and I thought he was a bit soft earlier in his career, but to say that now? You must not have been watching the playoffs the last couple of years. LeBron has gotten tough (as evidenced by his Game 5 and 6 vs. the Spurs last year.) And in case you weren’t paying attention last night, LeBron and the Heat DESTROYED the Pacers after that little maneuver by Stephenson.

      As far as Lance, Bird and the Pacers are concerned, in all likelihood the Pacers will take a step back next year. There will be tougher competition with the Bulls and Wizards most likely next year, and one of the Pacers primary pieces (West) is getting old. The Pacers need a major upgrade at guard, Hibbert is unmovable (15 mil contract is going to make him untouchable), and who knows if Stephenson will be a net positive or negative.

  14. loubearkane - May 31, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    Tyreke Evens got 4 years 40 Million , Stephenson will have no problem getting that.

    • realfootballfan - May 31, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      I would have agreed before last night, and maybe it still happens; however, he might have lost money last night.

  15. johnheisman - May 31, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    I am a Celtics fan and I don’t want this to happen, but if a healthy Rondo was on the Pacers they beat the Heat. He gets by anyone who guards him and finds the open man. No one can stay in front of him.

    • zoomy123 - May 31, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      Rajon Rondo? LOL! The Pacers’ defense would still get swiss cheesed by the Heat and they still wouldn’t be able to score enough to keep up. Hibbert would still be AWOL, Paul George would still be inconsistent, and Lance would still be Lance. Rondo is definitely an upgrade over Hill, but what makes you believe that he could overcome James, Wade + Bosh?

    • finsfan71 - May 31, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      Rondo is a very good player but I don’t think he’s the answer to getting by the Heat. Definitely a major upgrade though.

  16. General37 - May 31, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    Looks like the sixers stole a second round pick for Evan turner

  17. tibbs7 - May 31, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    Mavs could use Stevenson at the 2. Young, physical, and can play defense. Move Monta to the point which he played a lot of anyway. Being around some old no nonsense veterans like Dirk, Marion, and Carter would help make the decision to pay Lance 40 million over 4 years a little less of a gamble.
    Then see if you could trade pieces like Calderon for Chandler, if that interests the Knicks and find out what direction they are going.

    • realfootballfan - May 31, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      I think that Dallas team would be a good spot for Stephenson. The Rockets as well, but I don’t know how him and Harden would mix together personality wise.

  18. ebrownwareagle - May 31, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Lance Is TOUGHNESS & HEART personified! Not only does he have the antics to get under the skin of Superstars and not BACK DOWN, but has the TALENT TO MATCH IT. If he Leaves So does “The BALLS” of the team.

    • em11965 - May 31, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      Those antics could backfire on the Pacers. They can motivate players to go at him harder, or become a disruption on his own team.

    • redbaronx - May 31, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      @ebrownwareagle – Yeah Stephenson’s antics really worked so well, the Heat crushed the Pacers in Game 6…..Don’t kid yourself!

      • jimeejohnson - May 31, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        He’s a loser New Yawk punk like Cantonpeabrain. You have to expect punk behavior from these losers. It’s all they know.

  19. em11965 - May 31, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    They need to make a trade. They need more firepower. They have one scorer, Paul George, who is inconsistent. Hibbert is limited offensively. They need to upgrade a PG. Let Stephenson walk, or sign and trade. For example, trade for Collison (Clips) or Lowry (Raps). But if Pacers don’t make a blockbuster trade, they will be start to regress.

    • nycalldayz - May 31, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      Start to regress? Did you not watch their second half season, including the Playoffs? lol

      • em11965 - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:40 AM

        Yeah, they turnt it up in the second round. I guess timing is key. But they are still a PG and scoring Center short of getting out of the East

    • rrhoe - May 31, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      Both Collison and Lowry are free agents…..

    • realfootballfan - May 31, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      They had Collison before when this team was first coming up, and he didn’t seem to fit. Otherwise, I would have agreed.

  20. jj871 - May 31, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    No mention of Kyle Lowry? He’s an unrestricted free agent and they could pay him instead of paying Lance. Lowry is just the kind of PG the Pacers need – one who can score, create, and collapse the defense. He would be a great signing.

  21. pistolpete0903 - May 31, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    The Pacers list:
    1) A shrink to figure what’s going in Hibbert’s head
    2) Some decent 3 pt. shooters
    3) Coach Vogel has to go

    I think many people still forget how young the Pacers (bar David West) is; and they are playing against Miami which has been one of the best teams in the last 15 years. So, it does NOT call for any major overhaul.

    • jimeejohnson - May 31, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      I saw the great Pistol Pete Maravich play. Nice to see you honor him. And I agree with you that the Pacers only need minor changes to get to the next level. The inevitable deterioration of the Heat due to age will also help the Pacers and every other team except losers like the Knicks.

  22. ravenswhat - May 31, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    Lol at Hill making 8 mill. Good lord are these guys overpaid.

  23. rrhoe - May 31, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    All Indy needs is to upgrade the point guard position,George Hill is not the answer as a starter,should be a very good back-up tho’……

  24. phaktor333 - May 31, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    If the Pacers win and go to the Finals + have a good showing, this is a good problem to have because the salaries can be moved much easier. However, the way this team just 180’d in the wrong direction places a bad mark on every player on the roster. Now the Pacers are relegated to watching what Miami does in the off-season in order to determine whether to bring the group back, which in itself can be very combustible. I very much believe that several key members of the team were not all in for the journey as soon as things got challenging.

    Also, basing one’s moves on what another organization does generally is not good business, so the Pacers are now deeply entrenched in cap purgatory…good/expensive enough to win, but not good enough to win it all. In the NBA, that is a death march for a team. The main thing that got to me about this team is the lack of heart and desire; it WANTED Miami on its home court in the ECF and when it got what it wanted and faced just the smallest amount of adversity, the team emotionally folded. The team has to look at moving Hibbert at the expense of getting a true PG. Scola should stay and the team should also look at signing and trading Stephenson for another big or stretch…I just can’t see how he is brought back.

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