The Indiana Pacers are set to take a big step in a new direction this 2015-16 season. Quietly, Indiana ended as one of bigger winners during the hectic, free agency frenzy this summer, at least in the context of the franchise’s desire to play a different kind of basketball is concerned.
So far, the team has had three major pings on the free agency radar.
The Pacers will be sporting a frontcourt with a completely new look this coming season. David West agreed to sign with the San Antonio Spurs for the veteran’s minimum. They were able to unload Roy Hibbert to the Los Angeles Lakers for a future second-round pick. Reserve big man, Luis Scola took his talents northward to Toronto, signing a one-year deal worth $3 million. With Hibbert gone, the team loses a stable rim protector, but over the last few seasons both his inconsistency and his lack of punch on the offensive end has hurt the Pacers many times. He may be able to turn things around with a fresh start in L.A., but Hibbert and Indiana just did not seem to have the necessary chemistry to make things work out.
Word is that Paul George will be spending some time at the power forward position and he has been working out over the summer to add some bulk. He does have the athleticism to keep up with some of the bigger forwards out there and will cause some matchup headaches for opposing teams, but whether or not he can function as a versatile stretch-four still remains to be seen. Good news for the Pacers is that 2015 11th overall pick Myles Turner has been looking good so far in Summer League action. The 6’11” rook will get a lot playing time for Indy this season as the team would likely want to hasten both his development and acclimation to the NBA.
A major addition to Indiana this season comes in the form of Monta Ellis, whom they signed to a four-year deal worth $44 million. Ellis turned down more money from Sacramento to get on board with Indiana. Ellis will be a major catalyst for the team to be able to transition into the faster tempo style of play that they want achieve. The score-first guard actually complements Paul George quite well. History has shown that George performs best when he’s not always the team’s first scoring option. With Monta around, Paul won’t have to give that worry a second thought. Ellis will free up PG-13 to do everything else on the court and doing a little bit of everything is something we all know George does very well. Ellis should also be able to work well with George Hill as they share the Pacers’ backcourt. Hill will get a chance to spot-up and shoot as plays more off-the-ball, with Ellis demanding that opposing defenses collapse on him as he threads his way through the paint.
The Pacers have been wanting a change and this season we will get to see them play looser, play faster, and hopefully be able to thrive in a small-ball, up-tempo style offense.