With an NBA lockout set, many teams will be in difficult situations. Whether a team has a first year coach, or could be losing a big time player, this summer could be a long one for your favorite team.
The Indiana Pacers however, will not be one of these teams.
With more talent on the roster since the Jermaine O'Neal-Stephen Jackson days, and flexibility in free agency (whenever that may be), Indiana is not far away from contention in the East.
Interim coach Frank Vogel led the Pacers organization to its first playoff appearance since 2006.
It is to be seen whether or not Larry Bird and the front office decide to extend him into the full time head coach, but such a move seems logical.
Whether or not the season starts on time or not, the Indiana Pacers will be in great shape to make a push at contention.
The Indiana Pacers currently have $20.06 million dollars in cap space.
This money should bring in at least one free agent who will have a big role.
Many think that Indiana is going to be competing with the New Jersey Nets for David West's services.
West would be a boom or bust signing.
While West has proven his worth around the league with the New Orleans Hornets, his health has been declining while his age has not.
Also, West would not be cheap and in a year with seldom impact players, West could draw interest from a team that will overpay him greatly.
Another benefit to this cap room would be having the ability to trade draft picks for players straight up and not having to match contracts.
Although George Hill was brought in, O.J. Mayo may still be a player of interest, and the Pacers could trade a future first round selection for his services.
The Pacers starting lineup has been in the process of modification for a few seasons now, and after this free agency class, it may be finalized and looking like this:
Point Guard: Darren Collison
Shooting Guard: George Hill
Small Forward: Danny Granger
Power Forward: David West? If not Tyler Hansbrough
Center: Roy Hibbert
Darren Collison was brought in last season to be the franchise point guard, and while he did not improve greatly from his rookie season with the New Orleans Hornets, he will undoubtedly be a great player.
George Hill was brought in last week from San Antonio in a trade that sent the draft rights of Kawhi Leonard and Davis Bertans to the Spurs.
Some fans expect Hill to come in and take Collison's job, however, Hill was likely brought to Indiana to play as more of a combo guard.
Hill will fit in excellently as a combo guard because of Collison's pure point guard skills and Danny Granger's scoring abilities.
Danny Granger's role will be the same as it has been the last three seasons.
He will carry the offensive load but never blossom into a star.
David West's possible spot on the roster was already discussed.
However, Tyler Hansbrough could ultimately be the starting power forward next season.
Personally I like Hansbrough's offensive mentality coming off the bench since he is not a great defender.
Roy Hibbert like Granger will have a very similar role in the starting lineup.
Hibbert is a stellar shot blocker, and will be a nice piece to the team, but will never become a dominate player.
Currently the Pacers bench actually lacks depth.
However, after free agency and other possible transactions, Indiana has potential to have an above average bench.
If David West is signed, Tyler Hansbrough would be excellent as a scoring forward off the bench and could be in the running for sixth man of the year.
Paul George had a solid rookie season and should improve on it in his sophomore campaign.
T.J. Ford and A.J. Price will back up Darren Collison at the point when George Hill is not.
Dahntay Jones will also be a solid player in the small forward rotation with Paul George and Danny Granger.
As stated before, cap room will allow Indiana to bring in more talent off the bench.
Potential targets include James Jones and Glen Davis.
While both players have a good chance at being re-signed by their current team, they are both still realistic signings.
While a big trade is not needed to turn around the franchise, one could benefit the current roster.
Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert have both had their names tossed around this offseason, and either player should be touchable for the right offer.
A Granger trade makes sense for Indiana because Paul George seems like the real deal, and while he may never blossom into a star, neither will Granger.
Granger has more trade value, and could bring in an upgrade at the power forward position if the teams fails to find one in the offseason.
A sign-and-trade with the New Orleans Hornets that would send Carl Landry and a first round pick or two for Danny Granger could benefit both teams.
Landry could start from day one and contribute in the starting line up for Indiana, while Granger would be a much needed scoring threat and a desperation pitch for Chris Paul to sign an extension.
Roy Hibbert would likely bring in a valuable asset in return for his services at the center position.
Every starter on the Indiana Pacers brings something different to the table.
There is an excellent passer and playmaker in Darren Collison.
A well-rounded guard in George Hill.
A shooter in Danny Granger.
A scoring big man in Tyler Hansbrough.
A shot blocker in Roy Hibbert.
This team should play well together next season. Though they may not be ready for the NBA Finals, with a few more years of growth and a few more key player added, this team has the potential to be eventually.
The key missing attributes for this Pacer lineup is rebounding, pure three-point shooting and physical playing underneath the basket.
Through trade, draft and free agency, the Indiana Pacers have grown and should continue to grow until they are contenders in the East.