Pacer View: 2008-09 Review

Pacer View: 2008-09 Review

 The Indiana Pacers have just finished their 2008-09 season with a 36-46 record which is identical to their record of 2007-08.  This year, however, the Pacers are a much better team.  Statistically they improved greatly in the 2009 part of the season.  They were 26-25 in 2009 including 19-7 at home.  Remember this team had 7 new players at the start of the season and by the last game of the season they were starting 2 rookies.  The Pacers also have a much better team chemistry.

Looking towards 2009-10 the Pacers have a strong nucleus to build around.  Danny Granger has become an all-star and has become the face of the team.  Rookies Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush improved as the season progressed and each worked their way into the starting line-up.  There is no reason to believe that they will not continue to improve.  With Rush and Granger on the wings, the Pacers will be solid.  Jeff Foster is one of the best back-up big men in the league.  With an improving Hibbert and Foster to back him up, the center position should also be solid.

Troy Murphy had a career year.  He became the first player in NBA history to finish in the top 5 in rebounding AND 3 point percentage.  Murph also improved his defense.  While Murphy is not as athletic as you would like for a power forward, he is certainly an adequate player.

The point guard position is the place where, in my opinion, the Pacers need the most work.  T.J. Ford and Jarret Jack fall into similar categories.  They both can make clutch plays but they also have a tendency to play out of control.  Because of this they also have a tendency to either have a high amount of turnovers or make turnovers at an inopportune time.  Travis Diener does an excellent job handling the basketball but is a streaky shooter and struggles defensively.

Josh McRoberts did a solid job off the bench late in the season.  He showed me that he could be another Jeff Foster type player.  A player that can come off the bench with energy and make some plays.  He proved that in the last game of the season against Milwaukee.  McRoberts made some big shots, big passes and blocked some shots to lead a Pacer comeback for a victory.

The Pacers will have some free agents and since they are struggling financially they should let most of them go.  Nesterovic should not be resigned.  The Pacers have an option on Marquis Daniels.  They should let Daniels go instead of keeping him and his $7.35 million salary.

McRoberts is also a free agent but the Pacers should be able to sign him fairly cheaply.  They should make that move quickly.  Maceo Baston is another free agent.  He made $1.97 million last season, if the Pacers can get him for less than $1 million then resigning him would not be a bad move.

Jarrett Jack is in a situation where the Pacers could easily lose him.  He is a restricted free agent which means if another team makes him an offer, the Pacers will have a chance to match that offer and keep him.  In my opinion, the Pacers should not match anything over $4 million.  While Jack is worth more than that, the Pacers can't afford to go any higher.  They will still have T. J. Ford, Travis Diener and a draft choice to try and fill the point guard spot.

It is probably in everyone's best interest if Stephen Graham moves on.  Graham improved and proved that he can be a good back up wing man in the NBA, however, when Mike Dunleavy comes back he will struggle to get playing time.  Graham should look elsewhere and if a decent offer to come around, then the Pacers should sign him.

Mike Dunleavy is projected to return in 2010.  When he does, he should become the sixth man.  With Rush, Granger and Dunleavy rotating on the wing the Pacers should be a pretty strong team.

Maybe the Pacers top priority should be to trade Jamaal Tinsley.  He is sitting there eating up $7.2 million in salary.  Even if the Pacers swap salaries, at least they could get a player or players to play.  Tinsley is just sitting at home, which by the way, I agree with that decision.

I look for the Pacers to end their streak of missing the playoffs next year.  I hope I am right.

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