This smelly offseason just took another turn for the Indiana Pacers and I am not sure what to make of it yet.
First of all, Roy Hibbert is remaining a Pacer. That takes care of the biggest question mark this offseason for the Pacers. The Pacers decided to match (as I thought they would all along) and Portland dropped out completely. Roy will be Indiana’s franchise center for the next four years.
On the other hand, a potential Roy replacement/back up, serial killer lookalike Chris Kaman, has signed with the Dallas Mavericks. Kaman apparently loves the Texas gun laws. Look out everyone!
The sad news is that former starting point guard Darren Collison has been traded to the Mavs, along with defensive specialist Dahntay Jones, for center Ian Mahinmi. I say sad news for now because I’m a big fan of the speedy Collison, who never lived up to expectations in Indy and even lost his starting job to George Hill towards the end of last season. The Pacers are apparently also after PG DJ Augustin, a restricted free agent with the Bobcats and also forward Gerald Green, a high-flying dunker who last played for the Nets. TylerHansbrough could go as part of the Augustin deal.
Collison was on fire during his rookie season filling in for Chris Paul, which really raised his value, but in Indiana, under the share-the-ball system, his assist numbers were down, and as a starting PG he sure turned the ball over a lot. Like many young players, he was learning on the fly, and had some good moments and a few bad ones as well. But I felt like he was a big time player who wasn’t afraid to take the big shot when called upon. He was also improving defensively. Personally, I think the Pacers gave up on him too soon and will probably regret it. The writing was on the wall for him after the Pacers overpaid George Hill, but it’s still a shame to see him go. As much as I wish Collison the best, I just hope the Pacers don’t regret the decision down the track. I’m still surprised they could not have gotten more for him, to be honest.
Dahntay, on the other hand, I am ‘meh’ about. He guy is supposed to be a defensive specialist but let’s face it, he couldn’t really come close to guarding elite offensive players. The guards were too quick and the forwards were too strong. Offensively, he is also a black hole. He has improved his shooting and range but they are all still questionable. I’ve crapped all over him for long enough but I don’t doubt his effort. All the best to him as well in Dallas.
One question mark arising out of this deal is the future of guard AJ Price. If the Pacers get Augustin does that mean Price is gone? Or does he remain the third man at PG behind Hill and Augustin, in case of an injury? He sure is cheap and is serviceable for a 2nd round pick, but I don’t think many people will shed tears if he doesn’t return.
The other question mark is Leandro Barbosa, the key scoring punch off the bench late last season who had a decent run early but faded late into the playoffs. The free agent was initially regarded as a short term rental and the Pacers haven’t said much about him at all. The guy is also a black hole on offense and can’t defend very well, but is one of those few players who could create instant offensive for the Pacers’ bench, which often struggled to score. Is Gerald Green, if the Pacers can get him, an upgrade? Or should they keep both guys? And does that mean the Pacers are no longer after fellow offensive black hole and shot creator OJ Mayo?
As for the new guys. Mahinmi, otherwise known as “Mini Me”, is big and only 25 years old, but he’s a horrible rebounder who isn’t that great at anything else. Mini Me is a lanky 6’11” PF/C with career high averages of 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 18.7 minutes (achieved last season). Not huge on the guy but he has been improving, and the truth is big men are hard to come by.
I guess the move means two things: one, the Pacers probably see rookie Miles Plumlee as a PF backup, and two, they are trying to get rid of Hansbrough. And where does that leave pornstar lookalike Lou Amundson? All I know is that three white hustle backup big men are too much for one team, even in Indiana.
Regarding the potential acquisitions, Augustin is a guy who can get points, but isn’t a great passer either. He’s essentially a heavier, stronger version of Collison (both are 6’0″) and probably a better defender. His shooting averages are not strong (if you exclude the free throw line) but he does appear to be a slightly more capable passer. His career highs are 14.4 points and 6.4 assists.
Gerald Green? I hear the word “potential” a lot. He has played for Boston, Minnesota, Houston and Dallas, and last season he was a mid-season signee in New Jersey (now Brooklyn), where he averaged 12.9 points in 25.2 minutes. What worries me is the fact that he has bounced around a bit and can’t seem to find a home despite pretty decent numbers and excellent athleticism.
So far, the Pacers appear to have taken a step backwards this offseason. They have lost Collison and Jones but gained Mahinmi. If they can get Augustin and Green while losing Hansbrough and Barbosa…does that make them a better team? I dunno. Feels like inconsequential dealings on paper, just moving minor pieces for minor pieces.
All I know is that the Pacers aren’t done dealing yet.
PS: Summer league action has kicked off in Orlando and the Pacers are 2-1. Lance Stephenson has played pretty well, showing glimpses of brilliance but also momentary lapses in judgment (as he has throughout his time with the Pacers). Maybe he has grown up and is ready to make an impact at last. Plumlee has also played okay, perhaps better than anticipated, but no one is calling him the next Tim Duncan just yet. Orlando Johnson, the second round guy they picked up for cash, has struggled mightily with his shot. If he keeps this up he won’t get many minutes in his rookie season.