Pacers Ready To Contend?
"Ok, Ok, I know . . .I heard you. When I mentioned the likely contenders in the section above, Pacers fans jumped out of their chairs because I didn’t mention Indiana. See, here’s the reason – I was saving a whole section for you today!
So calm down, relax, here we go.
The Indiana Pacers have been one of the most impressive stories in the NBA over the last three seasons, as they have quietly gone from lottery team to playoff team and playoff team to possible contender. The management team of Larry Bird and David Morway did quite a job of overhauling the roster, setting up the incoming management team of Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard to take the team back to prominence. They didn’t make any splashy offseason moves, which is why they are largely under the national media radar, but their OKC-like approach to building a champion in a small market could yield serious fruit in 2012-13.
The Pacers offer us another look at a small market team looking to make good in a league dominated by the large markets. The Pacers will not be a team that pays luxury tax, and they will not be a team that chases the big names in free agency. Instead, they will look to draft well, develop their young talent, and add a key piece here and there to make the mix just right.
We still have a couple of seasons before the worst (best?) of the new CBA luxury tax penalties hit, which is why we’re seeing power grabs in Los Angeles and Miami. They’re going to spend while they can, knowing that the days of simply outspending the rest of the league as a method of contending are about to come to a screeching halt. In the mean time, the teams that follow in the footsteps of the Oklahoma City Thunder, counting heavily on continuity and chemistry, will already be poised to compete in the new NBA economy.
Count the Indiana Pacers among those teams. If Paul George and Roy Hibbert, in particular, take the next developmental step, it could be enough to get the Pacers into the Eastern Conference Finals. From there, anything can happen."
I omitted the snippet they quoted from the Indy star, as there is a thread dedicated to that.