Pacers Plan To Be Players: With the Indiana Pacers' season now in the books and the off-season set to begin in Indiana, team president Larry Bird feels like his up-start Pacers squad has made a lot of progress but knows there is more work to do to get the team into the Playoff discussion for the foreseeable future.
The Pacers have just $35.5 million in salary commitments next season and just $24.8 million in 2012-2013 and that includes core players such Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison, Paul George and Tyler Hansborough.
"Teams are going to be shedding payroll," Bird said to Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star. "With the money we're going to have, we'll be able to do some things this summer. And whatever we can't do, the next summer we'll have another $10 million coming off the (salary) cap."
The Pacers hold a team option on Brandon Rush and will be shedding the contracts of TJ Ford, Mike Dunleavy and the lingering contract of Jamaal Tinsley and will finally have some breathing room to make meaningful additions.
"Anybody who watches us play a little bit and has any basketball IQ knows what we need," Bird said. "It's no secret. Everybody around the league knows what we're looking for in the draft and free agency."
The Pacers have been in the market for a serious Power Forward for a while and that is viewed as their top need. The Pacers also tried at the deadline to acquire an instant offense type guard in the botched trade for Memphis guard OJ Mayo.
So with change in their pockets, the Pacers hope they can address both needs this summer.
As things stand today, the Pacers should end up with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The Pacers also hold the 42nd pick in the second round.
So between two reasonable draft picks and what could be $20 million in cap space to spend, the Pacers look to be in good shape going forward.
The two big questions are will Larry Bird and General Manager David Morway get to finish the job they have started and who will be the next head coach in Indiana?