UNDER CONTRACT: F Danny Granger, C Roy Hibbert, F David West, G George Hill, F Tyler Hansbrough, G-F Paul George, F Gerald Green, C Ian Mahinmi, G D.J. Augustin, G Lance Stephenson, F Jeff Pendergraph, G Blake Ahearn, G Sundiata Gaines, G-F Sam Young
DRAFT PICKS: F Miles Plumlee, G Orlando Johnson
FREE AGENTS: G Leandro Barbosa
MOVES: The Pacers had two of the more desirable restricted free agents and retained them both – at considerable cost and with decidedly different strategies. Indiana was very aggressive on George Hill, refusing to let him get to the open market by offering a five-year, $40 million deal considered above market value. The Pacers chose to let the market be established for Roy Hibbert, and Portland offered him the maximum $58 million over four years, giving Indiana a tough decision. After remaining remarkably quiet for several days, the Pacers finally went public with their decision to match Portland’s offer, which the Blazers rescinded. Indiana also cleared the point guard position for Hill – a third guard when last season began – by trading Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones to Dallas for signed-and-traded Ian Mahinmi, who will get $16 million over four years to back up Hibbert. Collison’s backup minutes will go to D.J. Augustin, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract. The Pacers also added Gerald Green – who had a wonderful comeback with the Nets last season – to a three-year, $10 million deal. Late in the offseason, Indiana also signed journeymen guards Blake Ahearn and Sundiata Gaines and swingman Sam Young, at least one of whom should make the roster as a deep reserve.
TO-DO LIST: Last season, Hill and Hibbert cost Indiana less than $7 million. The first year of their new contracts will cost more than $20 million. That is why the Pacers did not aggressively pursue Leandro Barbosa and allow his $7 million to come off their cap. They took a similar tact with Louis Amundson, a valuable frontcourt energy reserve. The roster still appears to need more shooting. Augustin’s presence means Lance Stephenson will not get a chance to be a backup.
PROJECTION: Until the Nets establish who and what they are and the Bulls get back Derrick Rose, this is perhaps the second-best team in the Eastern Conference. Right now, the Pacers don’t quite have enough to overtake Miami, but they would have taken a huge step backward had they allowed Hibbert to leave.
(RELATED: What grade did the Pacers get?)
For offseason analysis of every team, click here.