The Indiana Pacers enter the 2011 free agency period finally in a position to break some bones and possibly the bank. Gone are the gnarly contracts that carried Indiana through a period of vast mediocrity following the Reggie Miller. Gone is Mike Dunleavy Jr. Yes, I realize I just said the same thing twice.
Here's a look at the Pacers' salary cap levels over the past six seasons.
The Pacers have been mostly inactive in free agency for a couple years now, but the contracts on the books (Jamaal Tinsley, T.J. Ford, Troy Murphy, Dunleavy) were ornery and large. As some expired or were traded, Danny Granger's second contract kicked in to balance it out. Indiana is finally at a point where it can spend on new blood.
Heading into free agency, the Pacers have a cap figure of $37 million with the leaguewide team salary cap set at $58 million and the luxury tax line at $70 million.
The Pacers' free agents are:
Dunleavy and Ford will assuredly be partying somewhere else next season; the wing (Granger, Paul George, Dahntay Jones) and guard (Darren Collison, George Hill) spots in Indiana seem pretty set. McRoberts was nearly traded for O.J. Mayo at the trade deadline, and reportedly has interest from the Grizzlies. With the Pacers chasing a name big and having Tyler Hansbrough at power forward, McBob is probably gone. Foster could end up returning on a cheap deal if he wants to continue playing; he's an insanely good rebounder. Jones is a neat fellow who will likely hang around the league for a while, but he's not a priority.
The two big fish Indiana is most closely tied to are Nene and David West. In terms of roster fit, West probably makes more sense: Roy Hibbert isn't a high-scorer, so pairing him a power forward who is could help lighten the load on Granger and the guards. That said, Nene's inside brawn could allow Hibbert to use his lovely high-post skills more readily. The Pacers would be thrilled with either, provided that both remain healthy over the life of their deals. (Indiana has not always had good luck with this.)
The Pacers certainly won't shy away from upgrading the point guard spot; they have been mentioned in Rajon Rondo rumors.
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