Indiana Pacers 2012: Deron Williams and Nine Other Players They Could Acquire
Although it was in a season in which some of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference struggled through injuries, the Indiana Pacers emerged as a threat in the powerful top half of the East.
With a good young core, the growth of Roy Hibbert and the addition of a veteran leader in David West, it became evident in the 2012 playoffs that his team was one to be taken seriously.
Behind a good young coach, solid talent and a mix of youth and experience, this is a team positioned to succeed.
Having said that, here are 10 players the Pacers could acquire this offseason to make them even better.
10. Greg Oden
However, signing Oden would not disrupt Indiana's chances of making bigger plans and is a move that the team has to look at as a low-risk, high-reward addition.
In addition to Oden's minimal leverage in negotiations, the Pacers can go into contract talks knowing that Oden wants to play for them after the former numer one overall pick voiced his interest in joining their team.
Furthermore, if they do get Oden on board and he is any semblance of his former self, they could play to their height advantage at all times.
With a quality center, the Pacers would have the most height in the Eastern Conference. Their lack of ability to play to that strength when Roy Hibbert was on the bench really hurt the Pacers against the Heat.
Beyond that, even if they do not get the old Oden, it would not cost them much to rid themselves of his contract, which one would assume would be around the league minimum.
9. O.J. Mayo
The Pacers have coveted Mayo in both of the last two years but have been unable to acquire him each time they have tried. In addition, they are in dire need of a consistent scorer. If they can't get Eric Gordon, Mayo might be the next best thing.
Although Mayo is a restricted free agent, the Pacers will have the money to outbid Memphis for Mayo's services, even if they have to devote a lot of their money to George Hill and Roy Hibbert.
Furthermore, unlike with Gordon, the addition of Mayo would not force the removal of Danny Granger, who is sill a quality piece. Mayo could get serious minutes off the bench similar to James Harden, Manu Ginobili or even Darren Collison, who coach Frank Vogel found serious minutes for in the wake of promoting George Hill to a starting role.
8. Steve Nash
Nash could be pricey as a short-term option and may not want to come to a Pacers team that most likely will not win the title next year. However, Larry Bird still has to consider Nash because of all the variables he brings to a team.
Nash brings a vast amount of experience as well as great locker-room and on-court leadership. This is not to mention that Nash still has a lot left in the tank.
Also, while they may not win in his first year as a Pacer, by Year 2 or 3 he may have the tools to win a championship if David West sticks around.
While Nash would be a clear second option to signing Deron Williams, the Pacers may look to him if they decide against Williams.
7. Lamar Odom
Odom looked like a shell of his former self as a member of the Mavericks in 2012. But if the Pacers could lure him into playing for a small market team with his celebrity wife, he would be a a perfect fit for a team that preaches the importance of balanced scoring and a variety of in-game options.
Defensively, Odom is lacking what the Pacers like out of their players, but his offensive production makes up for that.
6. Antawn Jamison
At first glance, Jamison might not be the flashiest signing. But upon further review, he could bring a lot to the young Indiana team.
Not only did Jamison average a surprising 17.2 points and six rebounds this season for the Cavaliers, but he may view Indiana as an up-and-coming contender, especially with him coming off the bench.
Beyond that, Jamison adds another veteran body and has plenty of experience in big games. Jamison is regarded as a good teammate and teacher and was happy to share his knowledge with the young players in Cleveland.
5. Kyle Lowry
Lowry has developed into an all-star caliber point guard. While George Hill is solid, he is not the player that Lowry is. Adding Lowry would give the Pacers four all-stars in their starting lineup.
If the Pacers are presented with a sign-and-trade deal that involves Hill and another expendable player that nets them Lowry, they would be missing out on a a big opportunity to upgrade their team if they did not make it.
4. Ray Allen
While Larry Bird turned down a trade for Allen in 2012, he may want to look back at acquiring the future Hall of Famer. It was clear that Indiana needed a consistent shooter from beyond the arc against Miami.
Who better to fit that role than Allen?
Bird couldn't possibly have approved a deal for the aging star that involved Tyler Hansbrough and a first- round pick, but as a free agent Allen has to be appealing. Despite struggling in the playoffs this year, Allen is still in amazing shape.
3. Goran Dragic
If Houston decides to keep Lowry and fire Kevin McHale, Dragic becomes expendable or, if not that, too pricey for the Rockets to keep. Dragic showed this past season that he too can play at an all-star level and score at a consistently high rate.
Dragic had a superb second half with the Rockets and could form a two-headed point guard duo with Hill that would provide scoring and would be an upgrade over Darren Collison. With Dragic and Hill, the Pacers would have two athletic scoring threats who would rival most teams in the league.
2. Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon, an Indiana product, has been rumored to be a serious target for the Indiana Pacers and there appears to be mutual interest. Danny Granger is a solid piece. But when you need someone to take the last shot, many people around the league wouldn't look to Granger.
Gordon is not a superstar but is a natural-born scorer, averaging more than 18 points per game in his four seasons in the NBA. He is trustworthy with the ball in his hands at the end of the game.
More than anything, the Pacers need a reliable scorer and a true first option, which is exactly what Gordon would provide.
With Gordon, Indiana would immediately be better. They would lose little defense and gain offense from the former Indiana University star.
1. Deron Williams
Williams is without a doubt the crown jewel of the 2012 NBA free-agent class and almost every team in the league could use him. As a top-10 player, Williams is intriguing to any contender.
Originally, it was assumed Williams would go to Dallas, being from Texas. But with their poor playoff performance and aging core, Williams may not want to be stuck in another bad situation when the Mavericks start their inevitable decline.
Clearly, Brooklyn will do everything in its power to bring him back and fill seats in its new venue. But Williams wants to win or, at the very least, not lose consistently.
Indiana is an emerging contender with a lot of money coming off the books, including the contract of Leandro Barbosa. The Pacers have the funds to throw money at Hibbert and Williams and make them both happy.
With Williams and the roster that exists in Indiana today, the Pacers could contend for a title. Add more pieces to the roster over time and you have a young, talented powerhouse in the East.