Once again the Pacers faded away in the Eastern Conference Finals, and now this team is faced with some tough decisions. Their NBA Odds for next season might take a hit because of it, since it looks as if this team might be broken up regardless.
Born Ready to Leave
Lance “Born Ready,” Stephenson might have played his last game as a Pacer in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, because he is heading into unrestricted free agency, and should be due a very nice payday. However that payday might not come from the Pacers, who are really cap-strung right now, and resigning Stephenson to the money he will be looking for could be too rich for the small market Pacers.
Stephenson is going to demand at least eight figures per year in a new deal, and even if it were just for $10 million per season, the Pacers would only have ten players on the roster if they signed Stephenson, and would have to fill it out the rest of their roster with veterans and other minimum contracts. This seems unlikely, so Stephenson will likely try for more money somewhere he doesn’t have to share the ball as much with Paul George.
Even if the Pacers lose Stephenson, they still don’t have much room to go after other free agents. Stephenson made less than a million dollars last season, and Indiana has some other contracts that are up in the air. The Pacers hold a team option on Evan Turner, which they may or may not choose to exercise. It would be for nearly $9 million, and Turner would be expected to start if that were the case. The Pacers might use this as a backup plan if they lose Stephenson, however if they exercised the option, it would still put them above the luxury tax for next season.
How will this affect your future NBA picks?
The Pacers last remaining personnel decision revolves around Luis Scola, whose $4.5 million next season is only guaranteed for less than a million dollars. If the Pacers waive him, they could open up some space to try and resign Stephenson, or to try and bring n a replacement at shooting guard. However it still might not be enough, and Scola proved to be an important member of an otherwise underwhelming bench unit.
The Pacers also need to decide what to do with Frank Vogel. Vogel just signed a contract extension last season, and while Larry Bird claims Vogel’s job is not in jeopardy, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Vogel get fired after the Pacers virtually collapsed in the second half of the season. The only reason they got back to the Eastern Conference Finals is because the East is weaker than it’s ever been, and after they struggled in the first two rounds, and barely gave Miami any trouble, Vogel could be the scapegoat. However it goes right back to whether or not the Pacers management and ownership want to just pay Vogel to go away. That seems unlikely at this point.
At this point, there isn’t much the Pacers can do. Roy Hibbert and George Hill make a combined $23 million next season, and with almost a third of Indiana’s salary cap space tied up in those two for the next two and three seasons, I see the Pacers regressing a ton. It was almost a joke to begin with that they had a chance to beat Miami, and now they might be falling out of the East’s elite after only a brief time near the top.
Stay informed with the latest changes in NBA odds with this live page.