Creating the Perfect Offseason Plan for the Indiana Pacers

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Creating the Perfect Offseason Plan for the Indiana Pacers
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers are undergoing an ascension through the Eastern Conference and enter into a critical offseason for their NBA championship hopes.

This past season the Pacers finished at 49-32 overall, good for first place in the Central Division. They allowed the second fewest points per game in the NBA at just 90.7 and were first in rebounding at 45.9 per game.

As good as Indiana was in some categories, there is still much work to be done if they hope to make it past the Miami Heat and others in the playoffs.

Indiana was just 23rd in scoring and dead last in assist-to-turnover ratio, two areas they need to address this summer. 

Now out of the postseason, here's how the Pacers can win the offseason and set themselves up to make a championship run in 2013-14.

 

The Draft

Heading into the June 27th draft, the Pacers find themselves with pick Nos. 23 and 46 overall.

Their main positions of need are power forward (if they feel David West will leave in free agency), shooting guard and back-up point guard.

With their earliest pick not coming until the latter part of the first round, Indiana likely won't find a plug-in starter for their team. While the 2013 draft class may not feature many future All-Stars, it is fairly deep, perfect for a team like the Pacers picking in the 20's.

The first player Indiana should target is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Caldwell-Pope is a 20-year-old shooting guard from Georgia. The 6'6" sophomore had a fantastic second college season, averaging 18.5 points per game. Not just a scorer, he also averaged 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game, displaying a great nose for the ball both off the glass and out of opponents hands.

If Caldwell-Pope is off the board by then, Indiana could turn to a player like Tim Hardaway Jr. from Michigan or Erick Green from Virginia Tech. Both are guards who could help spread the floor and boost Indiana's 23rd ranked scoring. Green led the NCAA in scoring last season at 25.0 points per game and could even play back-up point guard behind George Hill.

 

Free Agency

If the Pacers fail to fill their areas of need during the draft, they can always fall back on some summer spending.

The Pacers have roughly $49 million in committed salary for next season, according to hoopshype.com. With the salary cap expected to be set at $58.5 million for the upcoming season, this gives the Pacers about $9.5 million with which to work.

Priority No. 1 for the Pacers will likely be re-signing starting power forward David West. West has spent the past two seasons in Indiana and is largely responsible for their league-leading rebounding numbers.  Last season West, 32, averaged 17.1 points and 7.7 rebounds in 33.4 minutes per game.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

West is coming off of a two-year, $20 million deal. This would be a reasonable number to negotiate around this time as well, as West is still playing at a high level even if he's getting up there in age.

Other power forwards worth pursuing for Indiana would include Paul Millsap of the Utah Jazz, J.J. Hickson of the Portland Trail Blazers or Marreese Speights of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

When looking at shooting guards, Indiana could pursue a veteran like Kevin Martin, Tony Allen or J.J. Redick.

Shane Bevel/Getty Images
Kevin Martin could be a great fit for the Pacers at shooting guard.

Martin and Redick would give the Pacers another offensive option they could desperately use. Too often in the playoffs, Indiana relied on Paul George and Roy Hibbert for their offense, allowing defenders to zero in on those two players. Adding a shooter like Martin would give Indiana another player for defenders to pay attention to.

The Pacers also need a back-up point guard with D.J. Augustin hitting free agency. Owning a league-worst 1.40 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, Indiana should look for a veteran who takes care of the ball.

Three players who may be a fit are Shaun Livingston of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jarrett Jack of the Golden State Warriors and Devin Harris of the Atlanta Hawks.

All have proven to be reliable back-ups and should come at a reasonable cost.

 

Trade Market

When looking at possible trades, Danny Granger's name immediately comes to mind. 

The now 30-year-old small forward is a career 18.1 point-per-game scorer, but is coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him play just five games.

He is entering the last year of his contract which will pay him just over $14 million in 2013-14.

While head coach Frank Vogel said that Granger would get his starting spot back next season if healthy, it appears the Pacers wouldn't be opposed to move the veteran, either.

The latest rumor from FoxSportsOhio.com says that the Cleveland Cavaliers might be a willing trade partner for Granger. Cleveland's biggest hole is at small forward, and they have multiple draft picks both this year and in the future they could offer as bargaining chips for Granger.

Cleveland has the cap space to take on Granger's contract without having to trade salary back to Indiana. One deal that could be beneficial for both parties would be the Cavaliers' 19th overall pick in this year's draft for Granger.

Indiana could grab another quality player in the draft to go with their 23rd overall pick and have $14 million more to work with under the salary cap.

If healthy, Granger would immediately become the Cavs' starting small forward, even if just for one season.

Indiana could very well hang on to Granger and move Paul George back to shooting guard, but they should at least be very receptive to potential offers for their former All-Star.

 

Internal Improvements

With everything going on outside of the team with free agency and the draft, a significant amount of progress must be made from within as well.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A quick offseason plan for each starting Pacer would include:

George Hill, point guard:

Needs to work on his distributing and overall passing. Hill is a solid scorer and defender, but this team needs more of a facilitator to get the ball to players like George, West and Hibbert.

Lance Stephenson, shooting guard:

Continue to improve outside shot. Converted just 33.0 percent from three-point range last season, not a very impressive number for a shooting guard. 

What should Indiana's offseason priority be?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Paul George, small forward:

Keep working hard to become one of the league's best players.  Continue to add strength and improve overall shot selection.

David West, power forward:

Staying in shape is a must.  Weighing 250 pounds on 32 year-old-knees can start to take it's toll.  With the Pacers playing deeper and deeper into the summer, West needs to stay in great shape.

Roy Hibbert, center:

Become a monster.  Hibbert should be dominating the majority of the centers in the league with his 7'2", 280 pound frame.  His playoff series against the Heat shows that he's capable of being a perennial All-Star.

The Pacers can make a huge leap this offseason and win 55-60 games next season just by taking care of these four areas. 

Some tough decisions have to be made, and a lot of hard work put in, but for now times are good in Indy.

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