What began as a season to savor for the Indiana Pacers ended up right where it did one year ago: sour taste of an Eastern Conference Finals defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat lingering on the lips.
The fall was as abrupt as it was multifaceted. Where there once was rooted real chemistry slowly but surely disintegrated amidst rumblings of rancor within the locker room, poor on-court performance and the ever-mounting pressures part and parcel with teams ostensibly on the rise.
Most ironic of all, it was Indiana’s biggest strength—its defense—that proved its ultimate pitfall. Faced with a seasoned Miami team more than accustomed to adjusting on the fly, the Pacers put far too much stock in their sterling starting unit. The result: a six-game series loss and an offseason rife with pressing questions.
No one expects these Pacers to drop off the map completely. At the same time, their precarious playoff push only emphasized what many had known for months: Indy, for all of its promise, is still very much a work in progress.
Today we take a look at the five biggest challenges facing the Pacers this offseason—everything from free-agent signings to front-office strategies to what’s become something of a common theme in recent years: bolstering that woeful bench.