After seeing Pacers fans’ disgust on Twitter, and even voicing my own for their off-season moves a couple of times, I decided to walk myself off the ledge, analyze their moves a bit more, and then see if they really affected the team adversely.
The first objective for the Pacers this off-season had to be to keep the core of their team together. Â The Pacers are riding high on momentum after earning the three seed in the east and giving the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat everything they had.
The Pacers succeeded in phase one of their off-season progress. Â They inked George Hill and Roy Hibbert to large deals (Hill 5 years/$40 million, Hibbert 4 years/$58 million), therefore returning everybody in the starting lineup in 2011-12 to the team in 2012-13.
The next phase for the Pacers had to be cleaning up the bench. Â Although it is not necessary to play 10 guys every game, Frank Vogel does it, and the second unit may have cost the Pacers the Miami series. Â The bench really lacked frontcourt help, as Tyler Hansborough and Lou Amundson just didn’t provide much. Â What they were also lacking in the second unit was a consistent scorer. Â Often times, the Pacers would go on multiple scoring droughts with the bench in the game, and that’s because there wasn’t that one guy they could really rely on.
With all of that said, the Pacers decided to make a bold transaction and trade Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones to the Mavericks for Ian Mahinmi, much to the dismay of Pacers fans, and even myself at first.
Ian Mahinmi will be a solid backup center for Roy Hibbert, as he averaged almost six points and five rebounds per game for the Mavs last season in 18 minutes per. Â Mahinmi has also gotten better every season, and his progress made a huge leap last season.
The reason fans were left scratching their heads was because Collison was one of the most efficient players for the Pacers last season, and he also started over half the games for the team. Â Dahntay Jones was a guy who struggled to find a lot of playing time, but over the course of his career as a Pacer he proved he could play defense very well and that he could sometimes be effective on the offensive end.
Here is why I agree with the trade. Â Darren Collison would have been a restricted FA next season if his qualifying offer wasn’t picked up, and the Pacers are either going to have to pay him a hefty chunk of money (which they wouldn’t because of the big deal they just offered Hill), or get no value in return. Â Dahntay Jones was just thrown in the mix to dump almost $3 million in salary for a guy that was seldom used. Â In my opinion, job well done.
Not long after the news of the trade, it was reportedÂ that the Pacers had reached an agreement with Gerald Green, a guy coming off of his best season averaging 13 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Â The acquisition of Green would be that go-to scorer in the second unit that the Pacers were looking for all last season. The Pacers tried to throw Leandro Barbosa into that role late last season, but it didn’t pan out exactly as they had planned.
Looking back on the transactions yesterday (or potentially today depending on what the actual news on Green is), the Pacers lost Dahntay Jones and Darren Collison, but added Ian Mahinmi and Gerald Green.
The Pacers added their frontcourt depth that they desperately needed, and also added a scorer in the second unit. Â However, the loss of Collison really could hurt the Pacers if they don’t find a guy in the second unit that can mimic his production.
For that reason, it is being reported that the Pacers are negotiating a deal to bring D.J. Augustin to the squad in exchange for Tyler Hansborough and possibly another minor piece or two. Â DJ Augustin is a guy that averaged 11 points and 6.5 assists per game for the Bobcats last year, a bit more productive than Collison was for the Pacers.
The trade would make a lot of sense. Â It brings a backup point guard to the Pacers long-term (since they are looking for a sign-and-trade), and it gets rid of Tyler Hansborough, a guy that is well-liked for his effort, but regressed quite a bit from his solid 2010-11 campaign.
Although I am now speaking in hypotheticals, acquiring Ian Mahinmi, Gerald Green, and DJ Augustin while losing Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, and Tyler Hansborough would have to be seen as an advantage for the Pacers.
It will be fun to see how everything works out over the course of the next few days, but I hesitate to mark this Pacers off-season down as a failure yet.
Update:Â Just a side-note, if the Pacers don’t acquire Augustin, their front office is still very high on Lance Stephenson, and Stephenson is having an excellent summer campaign. Â I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a significant boost in minutes in the 2012-13 season.