Chad Ford grades the Pacers offseason moves
Key additions: Roy Hibbert (re-sign), George Hill (re-sign), D.J. Augustin (FA), Gerald Green (FA), Ian Mahinmi (sign-and-trade), Miles Plumlee (draft), Orlando Johnson (draft), Donnie Walsh (team president), Kevin Pritchard (GM)
Key subtractions: Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, Larry Bird (team president), David Morway (GM)
After experiencing a level of success that even they couldn't predict last season, the Pacers' goal this offseason was to bring back their starting five and strengthen their bench.
The Pacers achieved their first goal. The team was hit with a huge four-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Blazers for Hibbert on July 1. Hibbert has been a key part of the rebuilding effort, but virtually everyone agrees that $58 million is a lot for him. The Pacers wisely agreed to pay Hibbert, but it cost them. In the meantime, the team overreacted a bit and threw a whopping $40 million at Hill. I'm a Hill fan and think he has upside, but again, the contract seemed a tad excessive.
Whether they achieved the second goal is debatable. The decision to trade Collison, who led the team in playoff PER, for the right to give $16 million to Mahinmi is a head-scratcher. Considering the Pacers could have signed Mahinmi straight up as an unrestricted free agent for probably half the cost -- he wasn't getting two years, $8 million from anyone else -- it's completely unclear why they had to give away Collison to do it. Did they really need to get Jones' $2.9 million off the books that badly?
Mahinmi does give the Pacers a credible backup 5 when Hibbert is out of the game, but the cost, both in dollars and lost assets, was unusually high.
The Pacers quickly countered Collison's loss by signing Augustin to a one-year, $3.5 million deal. Collison was statistically superior to Augustin by virtually every metric but one -- pure point guard rating. Augustin is a better passer than Collison, which was a need for the Pacers. Hill isn't a pure point guard, and Augustin's specialty is getting everyone involved. But when you factor in that Augustin can't guard anyone and that they're paying him $1.3 million more than they were Collison, I'm not sure this is an upgrade.
Offensively, Green is an upgrade over Jones. He put up some big numbers for the fledgling Nets last season. However, he lacks the defensive toughness or maturity that Jones brought to the table.
Finally, the Pacers' draft night call on Plumlee felt a little off. Plumlee had wowed scouts (and apparently Bird) in workouts with his freakish athletic ability, but he rarely showed it during his four years at Duke. Workout wonders infiltrate the first round virtually every year. They rarely pan out.
None of these smaller moves should keep the Pacers from being a top-four team in the East, but the difference between good teams and great teams often is in the details. The Pacers, for the first time in a while, seemed to smudge them this summer.