One of the biggest problems the Indiana Pacers have experienced during their pseudo-collapse over the past few months is the deteriorating team chemistry. This was unthinkable before the season with veterans like David West and Danny Granger leading the locker room. Granger, however, is now gone, banished to the Philadelphia 76ers for missing pieces Lavoy Allen and Evan Turner — pieces that did not fit the Pacers’ puzzle.
Granger’s departure did not help with locker room leadership in any way, shape or form, but the front office assumed that the current roster could pick up the slack. So far, that has not worked out very well. Let’s start with the fact that Roy Hibbert has been spouting off to the media ever since the Pacers started their decline. Hibbert has had a well-documented history of not exactly saying the right things in public, so his disparaging comments about the “selfish dudes” that make up the Pacers roster may pretty much be par for the course with him. Hibbert’s comments are in addition to reports that the two guards who make up the Pacers’ backcourt, George Hill and Lance Stephenson, have been feuding for some time now. Now these may just be emotions that have bubbled to surface simply because of Indiana’s current struggles and the long grind of the season, but they still don’t look good on the franchise.
It is well known that Stephenson will be a free agent this offseason, and he will be well coveted because of his solid season so far this year. Up until a few months ago, it was unthinkable that the Pacers wouldn’t put up a strong fight to keep Stephenson in a Pacers uniform long-term, but with the in-fighting between him and George Hill, nothing is guaranteed now. This coupled this with the fact that Indiana’s offense may be broken beyond repair could lead to the either Hill’s or Stephenson’s departure. During the 2015 offseason, Hibbert’s contract is up. Will his comments have any effect on the Pacers’ desire to keep him? Does he still want to be on an Indiana team if they still have “selfish” players?
As of right now, this is just pure speculation. But what happens if the Pacers lose to the Miami Heat again in the Conference Finals? What if they don’t make it that far? One thing is for sure; the Pacers are a broken team. According to Grantland’s Zach Lowe, the Pacers have been the second-worst offense in the NBA since February. Only the lowly 76ers are ranked lower. If the Pacers have any championship ambitions, they must build a roster that can play their brand of defensive basketball while also putting points on the board. That means Indiana’s executives will need to decide which players on their current roster they should keep and who they need to send elsewhere.