After years of wading around in a sea of mediocrity (or maybe it was just a sea of garbage), the Pacers are FINALLY at the point where they can start to get rid of some of their most onerous contracts. T.J. Ford, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster and Solomon Jones are all in the last year of their contracts with the Pacers. This will give the team some much needed flexibility just in time for the NBA lockout in 2011!
The Pacers have already been shopping TJ Ford around to anyone who will pick up their phone. They almost moved him in a deal for Raymond Felton, but it fell through when Michael Jordan got cold feet. At this point, if you’re interested in getting Ford for your pick-up team, Larry Bird wants to speak with you.
And that is the Pacers’ problem this season. They have 15 players under contract and a ton of expiring contracts, but no one wants expiring contracts at the beginning of the season. That’s like paying for a prostitute to sleep with you and your friend and then kindly offering to take sloppy seconds. (I’m still working through that analogy)
So, the Pacers are going to be stuck with a lot of dead weight until sometime in 2011:
The Depth Chart, aka Dead Men Walking
PG ??, (T.J. Ford – likely traded), A.J. Price
SG Brandon Rush, Dahntay Jones, Lance Stephenson
SF Danny Granger, Paul George, Mike Dunleavy
PF Troy Murphy, Tyler Hansbrough, Josh McRoberts, Magnum Rolle
C Roy Hibbert, Jeff Foster, Solomon Jones
Ford is as good as gone come training camp. He couldn’t grasp coach Jim O’Brien’s offense two years in a row, so he’s done. A.J. Price is out until at least training camp with an injured knee. Whoever the Pacers bring into to take over the starting PG role is going to be worth drafting in most fantasy leagues simply because they are going to get plenty of minutes. Hey, I hear Jamaal Tinsley is available.
Sorry Pacers fans, I couldn’t help myself.
Oh, what to do about Danny Granger? He’s got first-round talent and a fifth-round body. There are only two players in the league who can give you better across-the-board stats on a per game basis than Granger. One is named LeBron and the other is some dude that Nels seems to be fond of. Again on a per game basis, Granger is an easy bet to average 25 points, 5 boards, 2.5 threes, and close to a block a game next season.
Unfortunately, he also missed 20 games last year with a foot injury. The fantasy world in general is pretty down on Granger given his injury history – the easiest way for you to kill your fantasy season is to have your first round pick get injured – but remember that his first three years in the league Granger played in 78, 82, and 80 games. While there probably are certain players who are more susceptible to injuries than the average guy (think Sam Bowe), not every player who gets hurt two years in a row is necessarily injury prone. I think Granger is a great guy to try to buy low on this year at the end of the first or beginning of the second round if people let him drop.
Troy Murphy, on the other hand, has consistency played in 68-75 games a season since 2002. Now that is a pattern. Murphy is a good bet to average a double-double with close to 2 threes a game. Just be prepared for him to miss about 10 games. Roy Hibbert had a nice sophomore bump last season, and when he wasn’t fouling out of games, he had the potential to put up a double-double and block 6 shots. You are not going to get value for him in a draft again this year, but he will make a decent starting center in the later part of a draft.
Brandon Rush and Dahntay Jones will likely split time at SG again this season and work to cancel each other out fantasy-wise. Keep them on the free agent scrap heap unless Granger gets hurt again. Rush hit the three with good consistency though and makes the slightly better bad option. And like Ford, Mike Dunleavy simply has trade written all over him this season. He isn’t worth drafting.
Paul George, Lance Stephenson and Magnum Rolle all have great names (George should really be in an 80’s cover band) but they will all have minimal impact their rookie seasons. George projects to be a Granger replacement down the road and should be able to learn a thing or two from Granger if they are both open to the student/teacher thing.
Let’s end on this amusing quote about Josh McRoberts (aka, Troy Murphy 2.0). “[McRoberts] could figure into the team’s future plans if he can learn how to knock down the 3-point shot on a regular basis. Team officials have him taking 500 3-pointers a day.”
So, among the players to draft… Here’s your official GMTR Guidance (for a 12 team league):
Danny Granger – End of 1st
Troy Murphy – End of 3rd/4th
Roy Hibbert – 7th/8th
Future Indiana PG Jamaal Tinsley – 10th+
fbasketballblog takes on the challenge of placing Danny Granger in their top-25 list
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