Indiana Pacers Rumors: Chase Budinger Could Start At Small Forward

By Evan Massey
Chase Budinger
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers have been one of the busier teams this NBA offseason, and that was the case once again this past Sunday afternoon. Chase Budinger was acquired by the Pacers in a trade that sent fan favorite Damjan Rudez to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It has left quite a few questions surrounding the Pacers fanbase, but it appears that he was acquired to compete for a starting job.

Needless to say, this adds intrigue to the Pacers’ potential starting lineup for the 2015-16 season. It likely means that superstar Paul George will be starting at the power forward position, which is a bit of a shock. He is definitely capable of matching up against some power forwards, but will also be undersized against quite a few.

Larry Bird was the one who decided that George was capable of playing power forward, and he thinks George will win the matchup that he has each and every night. It is a bold move to say the least, but if George can play like Bird expects him to then it won’t be an issue.

During the 2014-15 season with Minnesota, Budinger ended up averaging 6.8 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. It wasn’t a very impressive season, but he did show some life during the month of April when he was fully healthy. He averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game during that month, and finally looked like the former big-time athlete that he once was.

At 27 years old, Budinger is still in the prime of his career and is simply looking to get consistent playing time with the Pacers. Perhaps being given consistent playing time again is all that he has been needing to turn his career around. Bird has been very obvious about his desire to sign Budinger and tried to acquire him last season via a trade as well as sign him in free agency two years ago.

Competing with C.J. Miles isn’t going to be easy for Budinger, especially if Miles is shooting and scoring at the level that he was to end last season.

Whether Budinger ends up starting or not, he will likely see very consistent playing time with the Pacers. They need some scoring off the bench, and that is exactly what he could bring to the second unit. Indiana could very well decide not to start George at power forward, which would kill any chance that Budinger had at starting.

No matter what ends up happening, Budinger has the potential to be a very key role player for the Pacers in the 2015-16 season. There is a reason that Bird was wanting him so badly over the last few seasons, and it will be interesting to see what kind of a season he has with them. Expect to see Budinger compete for the starting job, but don’t necessarily expect to see him win it.

Evan Massey is a featured writer for Follow him on Twitter at @Massey_Evan and like him on Facebook.

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