Considering that they forced the Cavs to go seven games in the first round of last season’s NBA Finals, the Indiana Pacers did not have to do much this offseason. Of course, that doesn’t mean they didn’t do anything. In fact, they made some smart moves that have a lot of potential to help them carry last season’s success into this season and beyond.
So, exactly what did they do?
Ok, so after just saying that they made some smart moves, I’m going to start with a move that some are calling risky. I’m talking about the signing of free agent Tyreke Evans. Evans was brought in by the Pacers to replace Al Jefferson (who recently signed a big deal to play in China) despite the fact that Evans has a history of being injury prone. The Pacers were/are well aware of Evans’ history, obviously, which is why they only signed him to a one-year contract. Why bother? Because there is the belief that if he stays healthy, Evans will be a fantastic player to play alongside Victor Oladipo. Oladipo, who played his first season with the Pacers last year, came to Indiana and had one of his best seasons ever, in fact, he was named the leagues MIP, or Most Improved Player. If Evans can play, the Pacers are going to be in fantastic shape to take over the Eastern Conference.
Other moves? The Pacers drafted two players – Aaron Holiday and Alize Johnson. Holiday, who is said to be replacing Joe Young, is entering the NBA after spending the last three seasons at UCLA. Many people are not too keen on Holiday, for one reason or another, but those who have been paying close attention to the summer league are now excited to see the “reigning Pac-12 scoring champion” play as a pro. Holiday averaged 14.5 points, 6.8 assists and 5 rebounds per game in the summer league. As for Alize Johnson? Like Holiday, the rookie from Missouri State had a fantastic summer league. Johnson averaged 12.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. While Holiday did perform better, Johnson plays with a level of toughness that will certainly get him far in this league.
And finally, the Pacers signed 28-year-old veteran Kyle O’Quinn. O’Quinn is not likely to make big plays or be a high scorer. What he is expected to do, though, is provide a veteran presence in the locker room. In other words, O’ Quinn will serve as a positive role model to this relatively young, but super talented team.
Image Source: AP