I wrote previously this offseason that the Indiana Pacers would keep two of the four non-guaranteed players they signed before training camp. After Ron Howard and Darnell Jackson were cut, it would appear my prediction is even closer to becoming a reality. But do the initial cuts really mean the Pacers will keep 15 players?
Looking at on-court performance, it would be tough to give either Hilton Armstrong or Rasual Butler a spot on the final roster. Those are the two players who made it past the first round of cuts and the players I predicted would make the final roster.
In four games, Armstrong has played a total of 30 minutes. During those 30 minutes, he has scored nine points, grabbed nine rebounds, and has one assist and one block. Most of his playing time (19 minutes), points (5), and rebounds (8) came against the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth game of the preseason when Roy Hibbert sat out the entire game.
Butler on the other hand has appeared in two games for a grand total of 16 minutes. In those 16 minutes, Butler has amassed three points, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal. He also played the majority of his minutes (11) during the Mavericks game. That game he finished with three points, two rebounds, and one steal.
Pretty easy to see why neither of these players have earned a spot on the final roster yet and it’s hard to imagine they will see much playing time, if any, during the final four preseason games.
When asked, head coach Frank Vogel has danced around the idea of the Pacers beginning the regular season with more than 13 players on the roster. I find it hard to believe the Pacers won’t keep Armstrong and Butler on at this point, simply because their contracts do not become guaranteed until some point in February.
Will the Pacers begin the regular season with 15 players? I think so, but then again the decision lies with Larry Bird, so nobody knows what kind of moves that man will make next.