COMMENTARY | The Indiana Pacers made a flurry of moves this past offseason.
Larry Bird got things started by announcing that he was coming back to the franchise exactly one year after he decided to step away to focus on his health and family. Bird was the man who put together this current Pacers roster and brought back the buzz to Pacers basketball.
The first thing on the docket for Bird and company was the NBA draft, and they got a very good player in Solomon Hill with the 23rd overall pick. Hill may not have "star" potential, but he's a very solid all-around player that could have an impact immediately for the Pacers this season. Last season, during his senior season at Arizona, he averaged 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. Frank Vogel has been extremely pleased with the rookie so far and has made it clear that he believes there is a role for Hill this season.
Heading into the offseason, the Pacers knew that they had to beef up their bench through free agency, and they were able to do just that. The first move they made was signing former Brooklyn Nets point guard C.J. Watson to be George Hill's backup and replace D.J. Augustin. C.J. Watson is coming off of a solid season where he averaged 6.8 points and 2.0 assists per game. While Watson may not be a flashy player, he does offer two things that the Pacers desperately needed last season but were unable to get from the aforementioned Augustin. Watson can score the basketball off the bench and take care of the ball as well. As a contender in the Eastern Conference, the Pacers can't afford to have a point guard who is unable to take care of the basketball.
Chris Copeland was the next addition to the Pacers' bench. The Pacers became interested in signing Copeland during last seasons NBA playoffs when the Pacers and Copeland's former team, the New York Knicks, squared off in the second round. Indiana did not have a player who was capable of stretching the floor and being a knock-down shooter, and that is exactly what Copeland will bring to the Pacers' bench. Copeland averaged 8.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game last year with the Knicks. He doesn't have great athletic ability and his defense is suspect, but he's a hard worker and a great shooter. You can expect Copeland to see minutes as a stretch power forward and possibly as a small forward at times as well.
The final acquisition for the Indiana Pacers was perhaps their biggest of the offseason. Luis Scola was acquired by the Pacers from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for second-year big man Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green, and a first-round pick. While that does seem like a lot for the Pacers to give up, Scola is an absolutely perfect fit for what Indiana wants to do. He's an excellent scorer in the post and can step out and hit the mid-range jumper as well. Having a power forward coming off the bench that has a career average of 14.2 points per game is something that Frank Vogel will be ecstatic to use. Finally, the addition of Scola will give starting power forward David West a chance to get some much-needed rest throughout the regular season.
Overall, this offseason was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Pacers. They were able to improve their bench dramatically and become one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Bringing in a great post scorer, knock-down shooter, backup point guard, and talented rookie wing player in one offseason is what most teams would love to be able to do.
The Pacers have made it clear with these moves that they are all in for this coming season.
Indiana Pacers Offseason Grade: A
Evan Massey lives in Indianapolis and has followed the Pacers for the past 15 years. He has written for many online NBA websites, including Hoops-Nation.com, Pro Football Spot, and Naptown's Finest. Follow Evan on Twitter at @massey_evan.
- Sports & Recreation
- Indiana Pacers