It’s been a little slow here given it’s the offseason and all, and the Pacers, despite talking about making major changes all summer long, have not actually done anything except sign their new rookies.
So in an Eastern Conference that has seen some dramatic changes over the last few months — starting with Lebron and Bosh to Miami (followed by a bunch of other guys), Amare Stoudemire to the Knicks, David Lee to the Warriors, Shaq and former Pacer Jermaine O’Neal to the Celtics, Boozer and Korver to the Bulls, former Pacer Al Harrington to the Nuggets, former Pacer Brad Miller to the Rockets, Al Jefferson to the Jazz, and Turkoglu to the Suns, amongst many other changes — the Pacers ended up being the ONLY team in the NBA that did not sign or even re-sign a player from a trade or via free agency (Detroit at least re-signed a few players).
The only significant things that have happened this summer of the Pacers are:
1. They signed 3 potential steals from the draft — Paul George, Lance Stephenson and Magnum Rolle. Stephenson, in particular, has gotten a lot of press as he was the 40th pick and seems to be “Born Ready” for the NBA.
2. Last year’s promising 2nd round point guard AJ Price got injured, and could miss part of the season.
3. Danny Granger has managed to not get cut from Team USA — yet. Even though he’ll most likely not be on the final squad, the longer he stays the better. He can hopefully learn from some of the other stars in the league and learn to be more of a defender and distributor than what he has shown the last couple of seasons.
4. Tyler Hansbrough is still not 100%, and one wonders if he ever will be.
And so that leads us into the titular piece of information. ESPN is doing a series of staff predictions on how the Eastern Conference will pan out next season, and it appears the Pacers will pretty much stay where they have been for the last four years — not good enough to be in the Playoffs but not bad enough to get a solid draft pick.
That’s right, ESPN has predicted the Indiana Pacers to finish 31-51 (down from 32-50 last season) and to place 10th in the East, which is where they stood at the end of last season.
This is what they had to say:
The Pacers essentially stood pat and might miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season. But there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel — Indy is armed with expiring contracts and on track to have cap space next summer. Meanwhile, the Pacers hope to build on last season’s 10-4 finish and avoid the East cellar.
In other words, stay patient, as Larry Bird has been preaching. Just one more year and the Pacers could become relevant again.