Not Done Yet: How the Pacers Can Fill Their New Hole at Power Forward
On Wednesday, August 11, arguably the biggest trade of the 2010 NBA Free Agency Frenzy occurred. This four team, five-player blockbuster deal has caught headlines and given some of the organizations involved new hope. The trade, which involved the Indiana Pacers, New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and New Orleans Hornet, worked out like this.
Pacers receive: Darren Collison, James Posey (from Hornets)
Nets receive: Troy Murphy (From Pacers)
Rockets receive: Courtney Lee (from Nets)
Hornets receive: Trevor Ariza (from Rockets)
Now, I could spend all day analyzing this trade from various angles, picking out the winners and losers, and predicting the effect it will have on the league. However, I will be focusing this article on the aftermath of this deal for the Indiana Pacers.
There’s little doubt that, among the teams involved, the Pacers benefited the most from this trade. The Pacers finally filled their need for a starting point guard by acquiring 22-year-old Darren Collison, along with small forward James Posey, while losing 30-year-old power forward Troy Murphy.
Who would be the best fit for the Pacers?
Although Murphy did very well on the Pacers as a secondary scorer, primary rebounder and floor-stretcher, he was hardly a core component and the Pacers were more than willing to give him up to fill their massive hole at point guard.
This trade has undoubtedly improved the Pacers’ fortunes, but they still have a ways to go to become a legit playoff contender. The loss of Murphy has left the Pacers with a gaping hole at power forward, which I have trouble seeing Tyler Hansbrough, Josh McRoberts or Magnum Rolle fill. Hansbrough is recovering from a horrible ear infection, and his short rookie campaign was none too impressive, as he shot an abominable 36% from the field at the power forward position. Although McRoberts is a good three-point shooter and a great dunker, his game still isn’t complete enough to start. And although Rolle played well in the summer league, he is an unproven rookie drafted late in the second round and most couldn’t handle a starting role. Danny Granger is also capable of playing power forward, but his natural position is small forward and he plays better at that spot.
The Pacers would be wise to pursue a trade for a replacement for Troy Murphy. With a strong young core of Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison, all the Pacers need to seriously compete is some help in the frontcourt. And with an excess of wing players behind star-player Granger, the Pacers possess the means to gain that help.
I’ve come up with several players who could potentially fill the Pacers new hole at power forward, and some ways that Indiana could procure these skilled forwards.
Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls’ offseason is almost finished, but they are still seeking a shooter at the shooting guard position. There has been much speculation that Portland’s Rudy Fernandez is headed to Chicago, but the Bulls and Trail Blazers appear to be at a stale mate over the conditions of such a trade, which provides the Pacers with an opportunity.
Gibson had a very strong rookie season, averaging nine points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 27 minutes per game, earning him a selection to the All-Rookie First Team, so he should be hard to pry away from Chicago. However, if the Pacers offered Brandon Rush or Paul George, who could fill the Bulls’ need for a 3-point shooter at the two guard spot, and a future draft pick, they may be able to pry Gibson away from their NBA neighbors and land themselves a starting power forward.
Antawn Jamison, Cleveland Cavaliers
The 34-year-old Jamison was dealt to the Cavaliers at the trade deadline last season to become LeBron’s secondary scorer to help him win a championship. But now with LeBron taking his talents to South Beach and the Cavaliers intent on starting J.J Hickson at the power forward spot, it’s unclear what Jamison’s role will be on the rebuilding Cavaliers. Although Jamison is capable of playing small forward, it is not his natural position and lacks the quickness and ability to guard opposing small forwards. Thus, it seems likely that the Cavaliers would be open to trading Jamison away for young assets, which the Pacers happen to be rich with.
One potential trade that comes to mind would be sending a draft pick and Mike Dunleavy (an expiring contract who would make the numbers work) to Cleveland in exchange for Jamison. Jamison would provide a very skilled temporary power forward who could pick up where Troy Murphy left off, stretching the floor, scoring and rebounding. Jamison is aging but still has some gas in his tank and could be enough to make the Pacers a playoff team until they find their starting power forward of the future.
Jason Thompson/Carl Landry, Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings have a similar situation at the power forward and center spots as the Pacers have at the wing positions; too many players. Forwards Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and Hassan Whiteside currently occupy the Kings’ four spot, while at center they have veteran shot blocker Samuel Dalembert and 2010 5th overall pick Demarcus Cousins. With an excess of players deserving of minutes at these positions, the Kings management would likely be open to trading away on of them. Carl Landry and Jason Thompson, both players capable and deserving of playing 30+ minutes per game, will be forced to share and compete for minutes, so if the Pacers could acquire one of them via trade they could help clear up the logjam.
Landry is entering the final year of his contract and could provide some much needed low post scoring, though he wouldn’t bring a whole lot of rebounding. Thompson, while perhaps not quite as gifted offensively, is a better rebounder than Landry and is more well rounded. The Kings could use some help at point guard, so chances are the Pacers could exchange T.J Ford and a future draft pick for Landry or Thompson. The Kings could also use help at the wing, so Dahntay Jones could be a trade piece.
Boris Diaw, Charlotte Bobcats
Boris Diaw is one of the few NBA players capable of playing all five positions on the court. A solid rebounder and passer with the ability to stretch the floor, Diaw could act as an excellent glue guy who could also be counted on for around 12 points per game.
The Bobcats are in dire need of a new starting point guard, and T.J Ford is the perfect man for a job, as he is a disgruntled former star who has fallen out of the rotation and whose salary matches almost perfectly with Diaw’s.
Michael Beasley, Minnesota Timberwolves
Michael Beasley was recently kicked out of Miami with the arrival of the Heat’s new triumvirate. The Timberwolves were able to snag Beasley for nothing but a future second-round draft pick. Beasley is an extremely athletic combo forward bursting with potential, and chances are he would thrive in the Pacers up-tempo offense. Although he has suffered from attitude and drug problems in the past, Beasley could be a future all-star if he is willing to put in the work.
Minnesota GM David Kahn will do almost anything to get future first round draft picks, presumably so he can draft more young point guards and shove them into the torturous triangle offense. And with Kevin Love already occupying the starting power forward role for the Timberwolves, the Pacers could potentially acquire Beasley for next year’s first round pick and one of their wing players, like Brandon Rush or Dahntay Jones.
The Pacers may not have succeeded in luring any big name free agents to Indiana this summer, but they have still come out as one of the biggest winners of the summer by acquiring their point guard of the future in Darren Collison. Although they still have a long ways to go to become playoff contenders, the Pacers are now on the right track, and with a budding superstar in Danny Granger, a solid young core and a young point guard for whom the sky is the limit, it shouldn’t take long for the Pacers to return to significance.
Please comment with your thoughts and thanks for reading.
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