Like most of us had hoped, today was a big day for the Indiana Pacers franchise. It wasn't their selection in the draft, but the proposed deal they made to bring home one of Indiana's own.
The 2011 NBA Draft was considered one of the weakest drafts in recent memory. The Indiana Pacers had the 15th and 42nd overall selections, but were able to use them to bring home George Hill, a young star that has always called Indiana home.
The proposed trade that they have made is their 15th pick (Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State), and their second round pick, to the Spurs for Hill.
Hill attended Broad Ripple High School here, and also played his college career at IUPUI, which is just blocks away from the Pacers' home, Conseco Fieldhouse. Hill just finished his third year in the league, and at 25 years old, is ready to enter the prime of his career.
Last year, Hill averaged 12 points and three assists per game as he came off the bench for San Antonio. It has been rumored all week that the Spurs were ready to deal Tony Parker, but instead opted to keep him, and cut ties with George. It was a surprising move to everyone around the league, as George was set to become the replacement for the aging Parker.
The other big news that came today was the unofficial announcement of Brian Shaw being hired as an assistant coach. With Frank Vogel set to become the official head coach any day now, it was an exceptional hire for the team. Shaw, a former teammate of Larry Bird with the Celtics, spent seven years as an assistant coach with the Lakers.
Indiana used part of their $3.5 million trade exception that they received as part of the Troy Murphy trade last year to the Nets.
The Pacers are already one of the youngest teams in the league, and seem to lack some veteran leadership. While Hill is not an older veteran, he does have the experience that could help this team win now. Instead of drafting another young guy that they will have to wait on to develop, they were able to get a player that will help immediately.
Hill has three years of playoff experience, and had the benefit of learning from champions like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Gregg Popovich. He should be able to make his impact felt as soon as he steps on the floor.
The question many of us have been asking ourselves is what does this mean for the rest of the team? Will he play the SG spot, or will he take over as the starting point guard position? If he does become the point guard of the future, the team may try to trade Darren Collison and Brandon Rush for an established power forward.
Another scenario being discussed is trying to move Danny Granger for a proven player, most likely a shooting guard or power forward. That would allow Paul George to take over as the starting small forward. Either way, the Pacers now have more options to consider, and it looks like they aren't done making deals yet.
In a draft that didn't have much top-level talent, the Pacers were the one team that landed a big time player for years to come. The attention of this deal might be that Hill is a hometown product, but the truth is he is going to drastically improve this team.