Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel.
For a franchise that’s hit rock bottom with horrid contracts, bad decisions, and stupid off-court incidents, the Indiana Pacers go into Thursday’s draft with plenty of options.
They hold a valuable pick at No. 10. They’ve reportedly been active in trade talks. They suddenly find themselves with players who’ve gone from overpaid stiffs (Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford, Jeff Foster) to the NBA equivalent of gold (expiring contracts).
One good draft night won’t erase a half-decade of blunders, but Thursday could be an important step in the right direction. I have no clue what the Pacers will ultimately do — does anyone? — but here are some of their options.
Use the pick
Boring, but safe.
The Pacers could go the Bill Polian route, taking the “best player available.” Unfortunately that would probably mean point-guard starved Indiana would take a big man.
Plenty of talented forwards have worked out for the Pacers — Baylor’s Epke Udoh, North Carolina’s Ed Davis, and Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson to name a few — but the real difference-makers would be off the board. You can’t help but think one of those guys would just be another role player in the mold of last year’s pick, Tyler Hansbrough.
The Pacers don’t need another role player, they need a home run.
If Kansas forward Cole Aldrich falls to them, fans will storm Conseco
Fieldhouse with torches and pitchforks.
I don’t see this happening.
While it would be nice to sucker Philadelphia into a deal for the No. 2 selection and take Ohio State’s Evan Turner, I don’t think the Pacers could offer anything a team higher up the board would want without parting with Danny Granger.
But Pacer fans can dream, can’t they?
An attractive option.
The last thing the Pacers want to do is overvalue a prospect that has no business being a lottery pick. They got burned last year, reaching on the NCAA’s golden boy (Hansbrough) at No. 13.
The Pacers obviously need a guard, but this year’s draft isn’t very top-heavy at that position. Kentucky’s Eric Bledsoe, Texas’ Avery Bradley, and Kansas’ Xavier Henry should be available mid to late first round. If they find a trading partner desperate enough, the Pacers could
pick up multiple first-rounders later in the draft for the No. 10 and fill needs without having to reach.
Trade out of the draft
This would be my choice.
No rookie point guard outside of John Wall would give the Pacers a chance to win now. Indiana could pry a veteran point guard from Denver (Ty Lawson) or New Orleans (Darren Collison). The Pacers have also been rumored to be interested in San Antonio’s Tony Parker, but they should go after another Spur — George Hill.
Parker would be a one-year rental at best, there’s no way he’d re-sign after next season. I spent more than a few nights covering Hill’s IUPUI teams, and he can play when given the opportunity. His NBA career averages aren’t staggering (9.1 ppg, 2.3 apg) but for a player who nobody thought would be a first-rounder two years ago on a team with an established point guard, those numbers are impressive. Just the fact that Hill’s play has made the Spurs consider what was once unthinkable, trading Parker, says a lot.
The Pacers whiffed by passing on Hill two years ago. This is your second chance Larry, make it happen.