The Indiana Pacers should rebuild after losing Paul George. It is what the fans want. It is the most logical move with the situation Paul George left them. But if Kevin Pritchard wants to pull a Larry Bird and keep the team relevant, there is a path the Pacers could take to make the playoffs.
If Pritchard decides to retool instead of rebuild, I understand why. Indiana has one of the worst attendance numbers in the entire league. Even when they were the one seed in the East and made it to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals, they were still 15th in attendance. How bad will the attendance get if they are one of the worst teams in the league?
I still think they should rebuild. This is simply a hypothetical.
First things first, trade Paul George. His presence on the roster will only hinder the Pacers’ success. The trade with the best value I see is to the Spurs for LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green. I think the Spurs are one of the only teams that could convince George to stay after next year, and I think they would be willing to make that gamble. This gives the Pacers one of the best frontcourts in the NBA with Aldridge and Turner at the 4/5, and Green is a great 3&D guy as he was named first team all-defense and has a lethal three-point shot.
Then dump Al Jefferson and Monta Ellis’s contracts. I think a team could maybe go swinging at Jefferson since he was averaging double figures in scoring just two years ago. If they trade him for a second rounder, that is a win. Ellis will be the tougher contract to dump. I think they could trade him to a contender looking for a power forward and pair him with Thad Young. Ellis’s contract is not as bad as it looks since he can be cut next year like the Pacers did with Rodney Stuckey last year. So if a team is looking for a top-15 PF, they might make this trade.
Then resign Jeff Teague and CJ Miles. Teague is the perfect point guard to pair next to Green. With how good he was last year, he will be even better not playing alongside Ellis. Miles will be a critical piece to this puzzle as well. At 30, he still has some good years left. He is one of the best catch and shoot players in the league, and as the Cavs, Warriors and Rockets have shown us you can’t have enough of those guys, and he is an adequate defender. He would be great off the bench.
Finally, you need to land big in free agency for a good, young small forward. My two guys I think would be the best options are Otto Porter Jr. of the Washington Wizards and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of the Detroit Pistons. Both these guys are playmakers who are strong at defense and would be perfect in the starting lineup. It would take some pitching from Pritchard, but one of them may be intrigued with playing alongside Turner, Aldridge and Teague. Note: KCP would play the 2 and Green would play the 3.
I’m not a numbers cruncher, but I believe by trading PG and dumping Jefferson, Ellis and Young’s contracts the numbers will work. Again, the best move for the Pacers is to rebuild, but this is the best case scenario if KP wants to contend.
1.) Jeff Teague
2.) Danny Green
3.) Otto Porter Jr.
4.) LaMarcus Aldridge
5.) Myles Turner
1.) Lance Stephenson
2.) C.J. Miles
3.) Glenn Robinson III
4.) TJ Leaf
5.) Kevin Seraphin