The Pacers have found themselves in the news for the past couple of months, but it isn’t because of their off-season moves. There has been a haze hanging over the team and Victor Oladipo as there are many unknowns about the former All-Star guard. It seems the team is willing to let the situation play itself out as they stayed quiet over the course of the off-season.
Indiana’s roster will look eerily similar to last year. The team has only added in one player as of right now as they used a second-round pick on Duke product Cassius Stanley. T.J. Leaf is the only player on last year’s team who saw legitimate minutes to leave the Pacers; he was traded to the Thunder. Despite the lack of movement, there was no lack of chatter. Stories surrounding Oladipo’s desire to be in Indiana circulated and seemed to have little consistency. For a while, the narrative was that he wanted out. Then it was reported he was committed to staying a Pacer. After that, there was speculation around a potential deal involving Gordon Hayward. The Pacers were listed as one of Hayward’s preferred destinations and the team voiced a mutual interest. A sign-and-trade would’ve been the way in which Gordon found his way to the team, but it broke down. Indiana was offering Myles Turner as the centerpiece of the deal and Boston wasn’t all that interested.
Even though there hasn’t been much change to the roster, the on-court product should look different this year. Nate McMillan is out as the head coach and Nate Bjorkgren is in. Bjorkgren was a part of the Toronto Raptors coaching staff that helped win them a championship and mimics some of what Nick Nurse is. Nate served as a head coach in the G-League for several years before making his way to Toronto. The offense will look very different this season for the Pacers and I am interested to see how that goes. McMillan was very grit-and-grind when compared to the rest of the league and Bjorkgren fits in with the modern game very well. It could take some time before the players are able to adapt from one scheme to the next. It could also be a seamless transition that helps catapult the Pacers to the top of the East.
The Pacers have been in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference for quite some time now. They have never been able to get over the hump and get to the Finals and I don’t think that changes this season. The roster has plenty of talent and a new coach advertised to be creative and innovative. They may not end up winning it all, but they’re dangerous enough to stop someone else from doing so.