After the Indiana Pacers self-destructed over the final few weeks of the 2013-14 NBA regular season and were later trounced by the rival Miami Heat in the postseason, there were warranted questions about where to go from there. As the offseason has worn on this summer for the Pacers, those questions have only multiplied rather than get answered.
The biggest blow to the Pacers is the most recent bit of news concerning the organization. While participating in the Team USA Showcase in Las Vegas, All-Star forward Paul George went to make a relatively routine defensive play on a fast-break. The landing was awkward and not helped at all by the stanchion, causing a terrible fracture in George’s leg that will put him out for the season.
Obviously having George out of the lineup is going to have a greater impact on the Pacers than anything else that happened this summer. George is the cornerstone of this team on both ends of the floor and losing him is basically irreparable damage to this team for the 2014-15 season. What makes it hurt even more, though, is other losses in free agency.
Indiana only had one key member of last year’s roster going on the open market this summer, but Lance Stephenson was an enormously valuable piece for the Pacers both offensively and defensively. However, Stephenson turned down the Pacers’ initial offer and then spurned them by signing for fewer years and for a seemingly identical per-year amount of money with the Charlotte Hornets. That alone left a hole in Indiana’s rotation, but the George injury only magnifies that.
The good news in the midst of all of the negative things that have happened to the Pacers this offseason is that they did add some solid weapons. While the signings of Damjan Rudez, Shayne Whittington and the re-signing of Lavoy Allen are relatively inconsequential, landing C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey are good additions to try and keep Indiana afloat.
Back on the not so great side of things for the Pacers, though, they didn’t have a first-round pick in this draft thanks to the Luis Scola deal with the Phoenix Suns. The Pacers also traded their lone second-round pick, meaning that Indiana walked away from the draft with nothing to show for it.
Setting injuries aside, the Pacers’ offseason wasn’t a total disaster. There was always a chance that Stephenson would leave to try his hand elsewhere in the NBA and Indiana did a solid job in trying to replace him with the signings of Miles and Stuckey. However, the George injury is the dark cloud over Indiana from this offseason. Because of that, there’s nothing else to feel about the Pacers’ offseason besides a bit of disappointment, largely because we don’t get to see one of the league’s best continue to grow.
Final Grade: Sad Face Emoticon