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View Full Version : The Pacers win free agency by playing it safe



mattie
12-23-2011, 08:12 PM
http://www.thecheapseats.ca/2011/12/the-pacers-win-free-agency-by-playing-it-safe.html

Over four years ago the Indiana Pacers began the process of completely re-inventing themselves after spending years in a post-Malice at the Palace funk. They traded away major pieces (Jermaine O’Neal, Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson) in an attempt to control spending, they prioritized the acquisition and development of younger assets (Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison) and earmarked the summer of 2011 as their re-entry into the sphere of competitive NBA basketball.

Fortunately for them, they got a sneak-preview of what that future was going to look like last spring when they made it to the Playoffs for the first time five years and put up a serious fight against the winningest team in the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls. They got major production for guys like Granger, Collison and Tyler Hansbrough, and were given a peek at the kind of player Paul George could be if he continues to develop his game at both ends of the floor. It was a perfectly-timed opportunity for management to assess what they had on their hands before they opened up nearly $23-million in available cap space.

For many teams, though, that is also the time when things get dicey.

When teams make the jump for bad to mediocre, they often underestimate how easy a jump that can be. To go from bad to mediocre usually only takes one breakout season or a relatively injury-free campaign, and it pales in comparison to the difficult of going from being a good team to a great team in the NBA. Nonetheless, teams sense an opportunity to make a significant leap and they overextend themselves financially without fully considering the advisability or longterm impact of such an action.

Consider the Chicago Bulls in 2006. They’d had a couple of competitive first round series’ against Washington and Miami and thought that they were a team in a position to make a big leap with a big investment. That summer they signed defensive stalwart Ben Wallace to a four-year, $60-million deal that paralyzed them financially and had them out of the Playoffs by 2008. Or consider the 2008 Philadelphia 76ers, charged-up after making the Playoffs for the first time in three years, they unloaded all of their free agent cash on Elton Brand, a signing that has strapped them financially and kept them fighting for the eighth spot ever since with middling .500 records.

The fear was that the Pacers would opt to follow a similar path this summer. As a franchise they had waited a LONG time to get financially stable and the fear was that they would overestimate their proximity to elite status and spend themselves right back into oblivion this offseason. Fortunately for the club and its fans, however, that’s not what happened.

Instead of trying to unload all of their free cap space on a single free agent (like New Jersey tried to do with Nenę or Golden State tried to do with Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan), they went a more conservative route. They inked former Hornet David West to a modest 2-year, $20-million deal to shore up their weak power forward position and sat tight. West is a stellar performer, but coming off of knee surgery he is also an unknown commodity and the Pacers did well to get him on a short deal that doesn’t dilute all of their financial flexibility. It wasn’t about landing the biggest name for the Pacers, it was about making choices that were best for the roster, even if that meant less flashy acquisitions than some other teams might be able to manage. For smaller market teams like Indiana the ability to stay financially nimble is essential, and getting an All-Star to shore up your weakest position for only $10-million per year over a short two-year span is a perfect move for that reality.

It also helps that Indiana is realistic about a few things: one, the big name free agents are almost always going to use them as leverage rather than as a destination. Two: The club has several players (Hibbert, Collision, George) who are going to need extensions in the next few years, and that money is going to have to come from somewhere and can just as easily become unavailable without diligent spending in other areas. Three: The team still has a ways to go to build and develop internally. Power forward may have been the biggest need today, but more needs are going to become apparent as their development continues and not having the resources to address those areas is what sunk Chicago and Philly in recent years, and Indiana looks well positioned to avoid those fates after demonstrating diligence this winter.

It can be frustrating for fans of small market teams that they are rarely players for big-name free agents and that if they aren’t winning then their own stars are likely to look to bolt to a bigger market as soon as possible. However, GM’s in these cities are growing savvier about how to balance their spending against the needs of a competitive organization and as Memphis proved last spring you can build with that model and satisfy fans, too. The Pacers won’t get much attention this season for their efforts to be conservative while keeping an eye on improving, but if they can stay the course for the next few years people will have to start talking about them because they’ll be climbing towards the top of the Eastern Conference.

Will Galen
12-24-2011, 05:19 AM
Thank you! This article should be required reading for some on here!

Bball
12-24-2011, 05:29 AM
That article is accurate in one way, a master of the obvious in another way, and ignores another point.

Sure, if you 'overspend' for the wrong piece that ends up setting the 'team' back or the player gets injured and rarely plays and underwhelms when he (or 'they') do play then a GM wanting a mulligan is pretty likely.

But what if you pay a bundle and that player fits perfectly, helps the team, and the team takes a giant leap forward?

Unless the writer is arguing that never happens or cannot happen, then the piece is being short-sighted.

The take away should be that reaching and overspending just because you can is to be frowned upon... not that you should never chase expensive free agents.... Sometimes, maybe that is exactly what you should do.

sportfireman
12-24-2011, 06:08 AM
Nice article.....thanks.

Anthem
12-24-2011, 07:33 AM
But what if you pay a bundle and that player fits perfectly, helps the team, and the team takes a giant leap forward?

Unless the writer is arguing that never happens or cannot happen, then the piece is being short-sighted.
1. Sure, it can hypothetically happen. But can you think of a time when it has?

2. Was that kind of player a free agent this year?

BlueNGold
12-24-2011, 11:00 AM
The Pacers deserve an A for their work in the off season, but I think assuming there's never a time when you overpay for a player is incorrect. Like any endeavor you take in life, the more risk the more reward. The only question here is whether that risk is worth taking...and we could talk about that for years...

vnzla81
12-24-2011, 12:09 PM
The funny part in the article is that he is talking about two players that I compared Dwest too, Ben Wallace at 31 cripple the young Bulls in such a way that they were going to suck for years, luckily for them they got Drose and everything changed, the same thing happened with the "young sixers" with Ebrand a former All Star recovering from an injury(sounds familiar?) it has taken the guy two years to recover from what he once was and in the meantime the Sixers sucked big time, it also took a coaching change to finally making him fit in the young team offense.

One thing I could say is that at least Larry was smart not get stuck with Dwest for too long, so if he doesn't work out at least he is going to be an expirer next year, let's hope it works because I am tired of rooting for a bad team ;)

Bball
12-24-2011, 06:31 PM
1. Sure, it can hypothetically happen. But can you think of a time when it has?

2. Was that kind of player a free agent this year?

For number 1... Sure.. But probably not FA's going to teams you're thinking of. And I'm not saying it hasn't happened there, I'm saying I can't think of them off the top of my head.

#2 The article didn't seem to be taking a 'This year' look at the situation. I don't recall it saying "In this year's market there was nobody worth going the distance for"

So I'm not taking the Pacers to task for anything here... I'm taking the author to task if he/she is saying you should never go long for a big name free agent.

Tom White
12-24-2011, 06:51 PM
The funny part in the article is that he is talking about two players that I compared Dwest too, Ben Wallace at 31 cripple the young Bulls in such a way that they were going to suck for years, luckily for them they got Drose and everything changed, the same thing happened with the "young sixers" with Ebrand a former All Star recovering from an injury(sounds familiar?) it has taken the guy two years to recover from what he once was and in the meantime the Sixers sucked big time, it also took a coaching change to finally making him fit in the young team offense.

One thing I could say is that at least Larry was smart not get stuck with Dwest for too long, so if he doesn't work out at least he is going to be an expirer next year, let's hope it works because I am tired of rooting for a bad team ;)

You are missing a very important difference in the signing of West versus Brand or Wallace...

The money.

West is getting $10M per year. Wallace averaged $15M per year, and Brand has not seen a yearly salary as low as $10M in a long, long time.

So, while the signing of West may have a bit of risk to it, the team has not put themselves in payroll purgatory by taking the risk.

tadscout
12-24-2011, 07:18 PM
You are missing a very important difference in the signing of West versus Brand or Wallace...

The money.

West is getting $10M per year. Wallace averaged $15M per year, and Brand has not seen a yearly salary as low as $10M in a long, long time.

So, while the signing of West may have a bit of risk to it, the team has not put themselves in payroll purgatory by taking the risk.

That, and we only signed West for two years! At the very least, he's a valuable expiring after this season.

vnzla81
12-24-2011, 07:20 PM
You are missing a very important difference in the signing of West versus Brand or Wallace...

The money.

West is getting $10M per year. Wallace averaged $15M per year, and Brand has not seen a yearly salary as low as $10M in a long, long time.

So, while the signing of West may have a bit of risk to it, the team has not put themselves in payroll purgatory by taking the risk.


One thing I could say is that at least Larry was smart not get stuck with Dwest for too long, so if he doesn't work out at least he is going to be an expirer next year, let's hope it works because I am tired of rooting for a bad team


Here is the last part of my post in case you did not see it ;)

Bball
12-24-2011, 09:45 PM
Not sure what value to put on that expiring contract angle. Last time we had a lot of expiring contracts... they expired...

PacersPride
12-24-2011, 11:26 PM
The funny part in the article is that he is talking about two players that I compared Dwest too, Ben Wallace at 31 cripple the young Bulls in such a way that they were going to suck for years, luckily for them they got Drose and everything changed, the same thing happened with the "young sixers" with Ebrand a former All Star recovering from an injury(sounds familiar?) it has taken the guy two years to recover from what he once was and in the meantime the Sixers sucked big time, it also took a coaching change to finally making him fit in the young team offense.

One thing I could say is that at least Larry was smart not get stuck with Dwest for too long, so if he doesn't work out at least he is going to be an expirer next year, let's hope it works because I am tired of rooting for a bad team ;)

some are fans to the end.

Shade
12-24-2011, 11:49 PM
I really like the moves we've made so far, but we still have some holes to fill.

Shade
12-24-2011, 11:52 PM
The Pacers deserve an A for their work in the off season, but I think assuming there's never a time when you overpay for a player is incorrect. Like any endeavor you take in life, the more risk the more reward. The only question here is whether that risk is worth taking...and we could talk about that for years...

Eric Gordon is that risk worth taking, IMO.

PGisthefuture
12-24-2011, 11:53 PM
Wish we would have tried to sign Pietrus off of waivers, I had a feeling Larry would be interested in him.

mattie
12-27-2011, 04:43 AM
The funny part in the article is that he is talking about two players that I compared Dwest too, Ben Wallace at 31 cripple the young Bulls in such a way that they were going to suck for years, luckily for them they got Drose and everything changed, the same thing happened with the "young sixers" with Ebrand a former All Star recovering from an injury(sounds familiar?) it has taken the guy two years to recover from what he once was and in the meantime the Sixers sucked big time, it also took a coaching change to finally making him fit in the young team offense.

One thing I could say is that at least Larry was smart not get stuck with Dwest for too long, so if he doesn't work out at least he is going to be an expirer next year, let's hope it works because I am tired of rooting for a bad team ;)

I was one of the ones who was arguing against West but since the contract was only 2 years, (and we're still quite a bit under the cap) I see it as a good deal.

I was also against signing Nene, as I felt he would cost too much, but at the right price of course he wouldn't have been a bad signing either.

Eleazar
12-27-2011, 06:06 AM
I was one of the ones who was arguing against West but since the contract was only 2 years, (and we're still quite a bit under the cap) I see it as a good deal.

I was also against signing Nene, as I felt he would cost too much, but at the right price of course he wouldn't have been a bad signing either.

I'm with you on West, I was worried about the price, his age, and the injury. So far he has proved me wrong, lets hope he can keep it up.

beast23
12-27-2011, 09:07 AM
I wanted West all along.

Isn't it great when you can take the safe route and hit a home run at the same time?