In the past seasons, the Pacers have not been known for making splashes in the off-season. This this season, they surprised the league as pursuing younger players improving their roster.
During the draft, the Pacers selected Goga Bitadze with the 18th pick. He can play immediately in today’s league, because of his ability to play inside, as well as, step out and consistently make three-pointers. He was unable to participate in Summer League due to issues with a work visa, but Bitadze will be on the opening day roster for Indiana.
The Pacers complete a trade with the Phoenix Suns receiving the 32nd pick in the draft (which they used to trade for multiple 2nd rounders), and TJ Warren. Warren is coming off a season averaging 18 PPG where he also improved his 3 pt shooting. Warren, brings experience to a young Pacers roster, and he will compete for one of the starting spots of Bojan Bogdonavic, or Thad Young.
In free agency is where the big surprises came for the Pacers. They maneuvered a sign and trade for restricted free agent Malcolm Brodgon. Most teams saw Brogdon as a top 10 free agent. The Pacers have one of the best backcourts in the East pairing him with Victor Oladipo. He signed a 4 year $85 million dollar contract to secure his future. Indiana also added Jeremy Lamb on a very favorable 3 year $31 million dollar deal. Adding an above average scorer and a plus rated defender is a steal, considering the contract. The Pacers added an another young veteran point guard in TJ McConnell, as their backup point guard.
Heading into the Summer League I received a text. “Our summer league roster does not look good.” I still had some hope that Aaron Holiday would be able to dominate the competition in his 2nd year, but he struggled as well, shooting 21-69, 30.4% and the Pacers were a -51 when he was on the floor. Pacers would end up going 1-4 in Summer League and some of those games were not close. One bright spot Alize Johnson did have a strong showing and got his contract fully guaranteed.
The Pacers upcoming season will be determined by how well Victor Oladipo returns from injury. It now has the options of playing small ball, and going big as it looks like the plan is to start Sabonis and Turner together in the front court. Things are looking up in Indiana and hopefully this young team, grows together as a consistent Eastern Conference contender.