5 Power Forwards the Indiana Pacers Must Go After in Free Agency
Free agency hurts some organizations more than others. For teams with set rosters, free agency isn't such a big issue. For those teams flush with money and hoping to make a splash, free agency can be a killer.
Not only does it shorten the free agency period, but if a team does sign a new player, chemistry issues become a major concern.
That being said, a rocky start to the season and potential communication issues are a risk the Pacers must be willing to take.
After a gutsy performance against Chicago in the first round of the playoffs last season, and with the acquisition of George Hill, the Pacers are a player or two away from being one of the East's better—if not top—teams.
Currently, the Hill trade though presents as many problems as it potentially solves. If Hill sees time as a starter or significant minutes alongside Collison, the Pacers suddenly lose their biggest advantage: defense and rebounding.
With 6'8" Paul George playing the 2-spot last year, the Pacers were one of the top rebounding and defensive teams in large part because they had size. George could guard the likes of Kobe, LeBron or a Ray Allen. At 6'3", Hill can't.
Will George in the starting lineup, the Pacers could easily compensate for Hansbrough's lack of strength and interior play because of their competitive advantages elsewhere.
Where they struggled was in scoring. Hibbert is developing nicely and George should be much improved, but Granger was their only consistent threat last year.
By signing an interior power forward, the Pacers solve both issues. Hill can play because the Pacers wouldn't need to help out defensively on bigger forwards that sometimes overwhelmed Hansborough and Indiana would have an improved scoring threat.
So who are the best players available for Indiana to pursue?
1. David West
The list of available free agents is not great, but David West tops the list. At 31 years old, there are concerns regarding his age and his surgically repaired right knee, which caused him to miss much of last season.
Still his 18.9 ppg and 7.6 rpg are sorely needed on a Pacers squad bereft of many proven scorers and players who can create their own shot. A proven leader and two time all-star (2008, 2009), West is exactly the kind of versatile but tough low-post player the Pacers need.
The only concern remaining is whether he is worth his asking price. After choosing to forfeit $7.5 million by opting out of the final year of his contract, West is expected to seek the big bucks.
If the Pacers can work out a front loaded deal protect them should West's knee not hold up, then the New Orleans power forward would certainly be worth the investment.
2. Carl Landry
A teammate of West's in New Orleans, Landry could provide the Pacers with a similar mindset, versatility and nose for the basket.
The problem is, if West doesn't re-sign (not likely) New Orleans will almost assuredly make every effort to re-sign their 6th man.
While not as proven as West, Landry brings a comparable game and skill set to that of his teammate, plus has the added bonus of being three years younger with two healthy knees.
Unfortunately for the Pacers, Landry may not hit the open market for long. While he's available, however, Indy should make every effort to convince him to come north.
3. Kris Humphries
The Indiana Pacers should absolutely pursue Kris Humphries on the sole basis that Indy fans would get to see a lot more of Ms. Kardashian around town (or is it Mrs. Humpries now?).
Sadly the slim probability of seeing Kris in blue and gold has less to to with Kris than it does with the fact that Kim would undoubtedly veto a move to the Heartland.
If Kim could be ever be convinced of Midwestern hospitality, signing Kris could go a long ways in helping Indy on the court.
A veritable double-double machine, Kris would fit in well with the Pacers commitment to defense and high-energy style of play.
After a breakout year in which he averaged 10 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in only 27.9 minutes of action, many scouts and league analysts are expecting even bigger numbers in the future. At only 26 years of age, the upside is certainly there.
Ultimately though, Indy's downfall may have to do more with its lack of glam than the promise of the team.
Maybe the Simons could use their fashion prowess to lure Kim.
4. Josh McRoberts
Josh McRoberts? Really?
I know what you are thinking and trust me I never could have imagined saying this myself, but the Pacers would be better off with McRoberts than without him (assuming they can't get the other three previously mentioned).
Watching him at Carmel High School in Indianapolis, I was shocked Duke wanted him. When he bolted Duke early from the NBA, I was surprised there were teams willing to draft him. When he landed back in Indy, I was convinced he would get cut or be sent to the D-league.
Somehow despite marginal talent and a lack of upside, McRoberts has persisted and hung around. After being stuck behind Troy Murphy and Psycho-T for the first few years, he emerged off the bench and started to contribute.
Right now, given the other available free agent power forwards, he would be Indy's best bet.
Kenyon Martin is too old and doesn't have the same explosiveness, Big Baby Davis is too stocky and rotund to deserve starter's money, and I could probably score more than Reggie Evans (Hanbrough definitely could).
Most importantly, McRoberts hustles and plays with a toughness that has come to embody the Pacers. When he got ejected for throwing an elbow at Noah during Game 5 of the playoffs I liked that he wasn't going to put up with Noah's nonsense. I liked his answer of, "I was trying to shove back to defend myself," even better (minus the fact it was in GAME 5!!!).
Unlike other free agents, McRoberts knows system, trusts his teammates and understands his role. If West, Landry and Humphries aren't available keeping McRoberts becomes critical.
Trade for Paul Millsap
Millsap may be slightly undersized, but he is a relentless bull under the basket who will use a combination of hustle and power to muscle his way towards rebounds and easy baskets.
Over his five-year career, Millsap has seen his scoring rise from 6.8 a game to 17.3 points per contest. The uptick in scoring is not just attributed to Boozer bolting from the Bulls. Through a lot of hard work, Millsap has developed a complete offensive repertoire of low post moves and spot up jump shots.
Given that Utah has a plethora of power forwards and the Pacers are loaded at the small forward position, I originally thought a trade involving Granger for Millsap and the big Russian Kyrylo Fesenko made perfect sense.
After a summer to think about it, I am decidedly less in favor of such a move. Keeping Paul George at shooting guard and letting George Hill relieve both George and Collison in a combo-guard type role seems more and more appealing (especially after watching the success the Mavericks had with all their guards).
Still, if the Pacers can't upgrade the power forward position and no one else is available, this is a trade they may have to make.
Simply put, the Pacers need more scoring production dow low and won't be able to compete without another big body.
Hopefully the Pacers can be aggressive enough in free agency so a trade like this doesn't transpire, but if it does Indianapolis would certainly benefit from having a young, big-time player like Millsap.