Huh- positive words on the Pacers....
17. Indiana Pacers | Future Power Rating: 497
PLAYERS MANAGEMENT MONEY MARKET DRAFT
126 (25th) 85 (16th) 167 (1st) 38 (21st) 81 (4th)
The Pacers are coming off a terrible season, yet rose a whopping nine spots from No. 26 to No. 17 in our rankings. Given that the team is essentially Danny Granger and a lot of question marks, what gives? A couple of factors are fueling our optimism at the moment.
First, center Roy Hibbert continues to show promise, as do three new Pacers: Via the draft, Indiana added swingman Paul George and two sleepers, Lance Stephenson and Magnum Rolle, to the roster. Stephenson, who has a lot of Tyreke Evans in his game, looks like a steal.
Second, the Pacers are also flush with assets. They have a whopping $37 million in players with expiring contracts, including several -- Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford -- who could contribute to a playoff team, improving the odds that the Pacers could get a significant piece in return on the trade market.
If the Pacers can't make a deal, they can walk into next summer with the most salary-cap space of any team in the league. Given their young stable of talent, they might be able to persuade a good free agent to go to Indy.
The Pacers' struggles since the 2004 brawl are well-documented, but team execs Larry Bird and David Morway now have the franchise set up to make a big leap in 2011. It has been a painful journey in Indiana, but there isn't a team in the league with more flexibility.
(Previous rank: 26)