UNDER CONTRACT: F Danny Granger, F David West, G George Hill, F T yler Hansbrough, G Dahntay Jones, G-F Paul George, G Darren Collison, G Lance Stephenson, F Jeff Pendergraph
DRAFT PICKS: F Miles Plumlee, G Orlando Johnson
FREE AGENTS: C Roy Hibbert (R), G A.J. Price, F Louis Amundson, G Leandro Barbosa, C Kyrylo Fesenko
MOVES: The Pacers had two of the more desirable restricted free agents, and it will cost them significant salary cap space to keep them both. Indiana was much more aggressive on George Hill, refusing to let him get to the open market by offering a five-year, $40 million deal. Thatís a lot of money for someone who was a third guard six months ago, but late in the season Hill became the starter over Darren Collison, who enters a put-up-or-shut-up final year on his deal. The Pacers chose to let the market be established for Roy Hibbert, and Portland offered him the maximum $58 million over four years, giving Indiana a tough decision. After remaining remarkably quiet for several days, the Pacers finally decided to match Portlandís offer.
TO-DO LIST: Last season, Hill and Hibbert cost Indiana less than $7 million. The first year of their new contracts will cost more than $20 million. That is why they probably will not aggressively pursue Leandro Barbosa and allow his $7 million to come off their cap. Louis Amundson can (and should) be retained on the cheap. Indiana may have enough wiggle room to pursue a shooter with its remaining cap room or one of its exceptions. Possible targets are O.J. Mayo, Courtney Lee or Michael Redd. They also could forsake the shooting for a wing stopper to help them against Miami.
PROJECTION: Until the Nets establish who and what they are and the Bulls get back Derrick Rose, this is perhaps the second-best team in the Eastern Conference. Right now, the Pacers donít quite have enough to overtake Miami, but they would have taken a huge step backward if they allowed Hibbert to get away