Pacers

Indiana Pacers 2019 Offseason Preview

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The Indiana Pacers wrapped up their 48-win 2018-19 season by way of a 4-0 series sweep from Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics. A question on many fans’ minds is that of the impending free agency period, which begins July 1st, 2019. Who will the front office look to re-sign? What players will they let walk? Which players will they pursue? In the form of this here preview article, I hope to offer some of my predictions.

Indiana Pacers Offseason: Two Big Storylines

On May 1st, Pacers President of Basketball Ops Kevin Pritchard and Head Coach Nate McMillan held their annual postseason press conference. The overall tone of the event was optimistic and forward-thinking, while also being sure to embrace the progress that has already been achieved. While looking more closely at the offseason ahead of him, Pritchard had this to say about what he believes the team must add to take the next step:

Many fans believe Pritchard is directly referring to Hornets All-Star guard Kemba Walker, and after conducting my own Twitter poll, it appears as if the fans are behind him. About 85 percent of Pacers fans I polled agreed that Kemba Walker is who they would most like the Pacers’ management to go after this offseason. The former #9 overall pick in 2011 is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the free agency period begins on July 1st.

When asked about another key issue, that of Bojan Bogdanovic‘s upcoming unrestricted free agency, Pritchard responded:

In another poll, when asked who they believed the Indiana Pacers should retain above all else, 63 percent of fans responded Bojan. Thaddeus Young received 26 percent of the vote, and Darren Collison only got 11 percent of the vote. No other players received votes.

If Indiana can hold on to Bogdanovic, who averaged career highs in just about every positive statistical category this season, they will be ensuring roster depth and experience. They will also be bringing back their leading scorer from the 2018-19 season. Management will still have to play the numbers game, but Pacers fans can rest assured the team is in good hands with its current front office.

Credit: TIM FULLER-USA TODAY SPORTS

Opportunities

Many fans have called for the firing of head coach Nate McMillan due to his lackluster performance down the stretch in some games the past few seasons. But a head coaching change means drastic changes in morale and play style, which is not what this team needs. I believe Indiana tries to retain every member of the coaching staff in an effort to maintain continuity and chemistry.

This offseason, team President Kevin Pritchard, GM Chad Buchanan and the Indiana front office will have plenty of opportunity to provide McMillan with a squad that he will have no excuse to fail with. One of these many opportunities comes in the form of Indiana’s 18th pick in the first round of this year’s NBA draft.

When asked about draft day and the Pacers’ 18th pick, Kevin Pritchard had this to say:

The most intriguing part of that quote to many is Pritchard mentioning being aggressive with the 18th pick. If this pick sticks, the Pacers could look to draft Kentucky guard Tyler Herro or Purdue star Carsen Edwards. Another good option could be North Carolina wing Cam Johnson, just to name a few.

Herro proved himself to be a reliable scoring option from range at Kentucky. He also showed flashes of a surprisingly crafty finisher at the bucket. Carsen Edwards, from in-state Purdue, was pure money, especially in March when it mattered most. He is projected to go later than 18, but Indiana should still take him into consideration. Cam Johnson, a Pitt transfer who came to UNC in 2017, led the Heels in scoring during this past regular season and was one of the best wing players in college basketball.

Big Changes

When the 2019 free agency period begins on July 1st, the contracts of Tyreke Evans, Cory Joseph, Kyle O’Quinn, Bojan Bogdanovic, Doug McDermott, Thaddeus Young, Wesley Matthews and Darren Collison will all be expiring. Who the Pacers bring back depends on who they think they can bring in, and the degree of the contracts teams offer their current free agents.

Credit: @iPacersblog on Twitter

Expect the Indiana Pacers front office to ravenously pursue a star free agent or two this offseason. In particular, the aforementioned Kemba Walker, as well as Jimmy Butler, have been discussed at length by the fan base.

Kemba is the type of player this team has needed for some time now; a versatile, quick guard with otherworldly handles and immense scoring potential. However, Kemba has also expressed interest in remaining in Charlotte and signing a long-term extension. If Indiana wants him, they’ll likely have to throw everything they have at him.

If this doesn’t work out, Jimmy Butler could be the move for Indiana’s front office. Butler will be an especially attractive option if Bogdanovic leaves. Other names mentioned for Indiana to look at in the free agency and trade markets include: Evan Fournier, Jrue Holiday, Julius Randle, Taurean Prince, D’Angelo Russell, Khris Middleton and Terry Rozier.

It is exceedingly difficult to predict what the team will look like come the start of next season, especially with the caliber of this offseason’s free agency pool. Nonetheless, Indiana Pacers fans should remain excited for what the future potentially holds..

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