The Indiana Pacers were one of the most pleasant surprises of this past season, almost beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs against all odds on a campaign they weren’t even supposed to win more than 25 games.
With a roster filled with youth and several talented players, the future seems very bright at Indy for the first time in a while, but obviously, there are several issues they need to address in order to round up their squad.
Also, with them already declining Lance Stephenson’s option, they will need to fill that void in the second unit. The Pacers are set to have between 10 and 30 million in cap space this summer, more than enough to get a couple of decent pieces. So, let’s take a look at the top 5 candidates Indiana should pursue during the summer.
5. Will Barton
If they want to score off the bench, few players would be more tailor-made for that role than Will Barton, who can bring a lot of energy and play both guard spots and even as the small forward on some small ball lineups.
ESPN Sources: With Indiana declining team option on Lance Stephenson, Tyreke Evans and Will Barton are expected to be two of its free-agent targets.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 25, 2018
Barton is a committed rebounder, a willing passer and a guy that can get hot on the blink of an eye, and would be a nice scoring complement next to Victor Oladipo during clutch time as well, as he’s shown during his time at Denver.
4. Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans is coming off a career year so he’s pretty likely to be quite overpaid next year, but even so, the Pacers could be in the mix to get him if the price is right even if he’s not able to sustain his production.
Evans can also play and guard as much as 3 different positions and is a slightly better defender than Will Barton. But, as we mentioned before, getting him isn’t going to be easy considering he’s set to have a lot of offers on his table.
3. Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart has already stated that he’s worth way more than the Boston Celtics are capable of paying him right now, so he’s pretty much a lock to leave the TD Garden following an impressive start of his career.
Smart could run the point in the Pacers’ starting unit as a much better option than Darren Collison, not to mention the fact that he’s one of the best defenders in the league and a guy that could easily guard one through five.
2. Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon may leave the Orlando Magic if they don’t decide to match any high bids for him, especially considering how poor spacing is going to be on a frontcourt with him, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba.
Still, even if he comes at a high price, the Pacers should definitely try and make a run for him, coming off a breakout year and finally proving that he can become the stud everybody hoped he would be. In order to get him, they would have to offer him a near-max deal.
1. Julius Randle
With the Los Angeles Lakers ready to let Julius Randle walk away in order to save as much cap space as they can, all other 29 teams should (and will) be in line to try and get the power forward to sign with them.
Randle can bring a lot of grit and hustle and would be a great scoring complement next to Myles Turner, who tends to disappear through key stretches of the game. A big 3 of Oladipo, Randle and Turner could dominate the East for many years to come.