The 2017 offseason was the wildest in NBA history. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are now Eastern Conference rivals. Out West, Chris Paul joined James Harden, while Paul George and Carmelo Anthony united with Russell Westbrook. Ten recent All–Stars changed uniforms, and we haven’t even gotten to Kevin Durant’s strange summer, so let’s get to previewing. The 2017-18 NBA season is finally upon us.
2016-17 finish: 42-40, third in the Central Division
• Offensive rating: 106.2 (15th)
• Defensive rating: 106.3 (16th)
Additions: Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu
Subtractions: Paul George, Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, C.J. Miles, Kevin Seraphin, Lavoy Allen, Aaron Brooks
Did the summer help at all?
All you have to do is look at the first name on Indiana’s list of subtractions to realize this summer was no help. After George informed the Pacers he was planning to leave the franchise in 2018 free agency, general manager Kevin Pritchard figured Oladipo and Sabonis was the best package he could get in return. Regardless of whether that’s the case, there is no world in which that trade makes them better.
On top of that, the Pacers lost Teague (a still-productive former All-Star), Miles (their best shooter) and Ellis (past his prime, but occasionally explosive), leaving only four players from last season’s playoff rotation: Myles Turner, Thaddeus Young, Glenn Robinson III and, of course, Lance Stephenson.
Turner and Robinson seem like foundational building blocks who aren’t yet ready to take the reins from George, and Young is generally a net gain, but Point Stephenson is a ticking time bomb waiting to send the Pacers into NBA oblivion. Oladipo, Sabonis, Collison, Joseph and Bogdanovic are all nice players, to say little of Indiana’s mid-first and second-round picks, but all of them combined won’t be able to replace what Indiana lost in George, a top-15 player who led them to two conference finals.
Best-case scenario: Just turn the team over to the 25-and-under contingent. Roll out fun lineups with Oladipo and Robinson on the wings, Sabonis or Leaf at the four and Turner in the middle, with Collison, Joseph or (gulp) Stephenson stewarding the offense as a veteran point guard presence. See if there’s a playoff core of the future in there somewhere and pick up another lottery pick along the way.
If everything falls apart: The Pacers realize that core is headed nowhere, and the stench of dealing George for Oladipo, Sabonis and no draft picks hangs over the franchise like a stale you-know-what for years to come. Other than that, there’s not much more falling apart for the franchise to do.
Best guess at a record: 29-53
Read all of Ball Don’t Lie’s 2017-18 NBA Season Previews:
Atlanta Hawks • Boston Celtics • Brooklyn Nets • Charlotte Hornets • Chicago Bulls • Cleveland Cavaliers • Detroit Pistons • Indiana Pacers • Miami Heat • Milwaukee Bucks • New York Knicks • Orlando Magic • Philadelphia 76ers • Toronto Raptors • Washington Wizards
Dallas Mavericks • Denver Nuggets • Golden State Warriors • Houston Rockets • Los Angeles Clippers • Los Angeles Lakers • Memphis Grizzlies • Minnesota Timberwolves • New Orleans Pelicans • Oklahoma City Thunder • Phoenix Suns • Portland Trail Blazers • Sacramento Kings • San Antonio Spurs • Utah Jazz
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