With roughly two weeks until opening night, the Indiana Pacers trimmed their roster to 15 players today in addition to exercising an option on swing-man Paul George, keeping him around through the 2013-14 season.
In an off-season that featured some marquee transactions for a couple big-name franchises, notably the Los Angeles Lakers’ trades to acquire stars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in addition to the Miami Heat signings of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the Pacers stayed relatively quiet, essentially trading and signing depth with the addition of center Ian Mahinmi, guard Gerald Green and point guard D.J. Augustin.
Pacer fans need not worry, however. Miami may have signed some veteran shooters, but they still lack a true center; and with improved depth, the Pacers should be able to give Miami a little more trouble a second time around. Indiana signed center Roy Hibbert to a long-term deal and secured former Duke big-man Miles Plumlee in the draft.
Many figure the starting five will remain relatively unchanged, as the team figures to start either D.J. Augustin or George Hill at point guard, Paul George and Danny Granger on the wings, David West at power forward and Roy Hibbert at center.
Fans will note the loss of Darren Collison via trade to Dallas and Leandro Barbosa to the crowded backcourt in Boston. Both will certainly be missed as the spark off the bench, but rest assured this team is equipped for another postseason run.
The Pacers are absolutely playing for a top seed (likely the 2nd seed in the East) with another showdown against the Miami Heat in the Easter Conference Finals looming on the horizon. Assuming the team remains relatively healthy and plays to its strengths (David West and Roy Hibbert are amongst the more formidable frontcourt duos in the league) and considerable depth, look for the blue and gold to be even better this year than last.
Be aware the D.J. Augustin is a starting point guard in this league and certainly has the potential to contribute a great deal. The downside to Augustin is his size, coming in at around 6’0″ and just over 180 pounds, which means he’ll be giving up some size to most starting point guards in the league, presenting a potential defensive mismatch should D.J. not be up to the task.
Aside from the Heat, promising challenge in the East are the aging Celtics (sans Ray Allen), the Philadelphia 76ers, and once Derrick Rose comes back, certainly the Chicago Bulls. The West figures to pit the Oklahoma City Thunder against the new-look Los Angeles Lakers, who apparently are taking baseball’s Yankee approach to winning; buy the best players available.
The Pacers start the regular season away from home on Friday, November 2nd at Charlotte and the home schedule starts Saturday, November 3rd against the Sacramento Kings.
Your 2012 Indiana Pacers’ slogan is “Blue Collar – Gold Swagger”. The team is also featuring a second Hansbrough, as Tyler’s brother Ben is on the active roster. If the latter is anything like the former, the reserves certainly don’t lack the blue collar attribute. It’s up to the starters on this team to bring the swagger.