Chris Copeland agrees to deal with Pacers, where he'll provide much-needed bench spacing

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers gave their weak bench a new dimension by getting an agreement from Chris Copeland on a two-year, $6 million contract.

Needing to improve a weak bench that probably cost them a chance to play for the title, the Indiana Pacers agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal with New York Knicks forward Chris Copeland.

Assuming Copeland can come close to duplicating his performance in a surprising rookie season, this is a really good pickup. Copeland provides Indiana's bench with a dimension it lacked last season: perimeter shooting from a frontcourt player. Neither Tyler Hansbrough or Ian Mahinmi struck fear into defenses, forcing David West and Roy Hibbert to play extended minutes in the playoffs. Copeland hit 42 percent from three-point range last season and probably should have played more if Mike Woodson were more willing to trust him.

There's no question that Copeland is limited, but Indiana should be in better position to cover those issues up than the Knicks were. Woodson was often reluctant to play Copeland because of his defense, but the Pacers should be able to pair him in lineups with either Hibbert or Mahinmi protecting the rim. The Knicks, obviously, had significantly worse defensive big men outside of Tyson Chandler. Copeland's poor passing and itchy trigger finger are bigger issues, but he moves well without the ball and should open up space for some of Indiana's other offensive threats.

The one concern: can Copeland duplicate his performance now that teams actually know who he is? Last summer, the Pacers signed Gerald Green to a three-year deal based off a small sample of good games at the end of the previous season. Green ended up failing to build on that play and now is a mini-albatross at the end of Indiana's bench. Copeland has more going for him than Green, but there's also a chance that the 29-year-old rookie just had a fluke year. If so, the Pacers will regret this signing.

But given the need for Stretch 4 types, I don't expect Copeland to fade away like Green. He's worked too hard to regress now, and now that he is on a team that can cover up his deficiencies, he should show his value as a role player.

GRADE: A-

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