Walt, you need to put Texas LT Connor Williams on this list. Dude is going to be one of the best LT's in this class. He'll be a JR this year, but former TE with outstanding movement and pass blocking skills. Dude is a stud and Freshman All-American. First time in a while I've been excited for our Offensive line.
C: Roy Hibbert/Jeff Foster/Solomon Jones/Magnum Rolle
PF: Tyler Hansbrough/Josh McRoberts
SF: Danny Granger/James Posey/Paul George
SG: Mike Dunleavy/Brandon Rush/Dahntay Jones/Lance Stephenson
PG: Darren Collison/T.J. Ford/A.J. Price
Head Coach: Jim O'Brien (4th season)
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $64.4 million
Off-Season Grade: C+
It was a fairly quiet offseason in Indiana which actually should benefit the team in the long run. The Pacers spent all summer hunting for a point guard of the future since that position has been in limbo for the past several seasons. Larry Bird practiced patience in doing so but finally ended up getting his guy in Darren Collison. It came at a fairly steep price as the Pacers had to deal starting power forward Tory Murphy while also taking on James Posey and his remaining 2-year, $13.4 million deal.
Paul George was an intriguing pick in the 2010 NBA Draft as he plays the same position as Indiana's best player, Danny Granger. I would have preferred seeing the Pacers draft an athletic big man which the team sorely lacks and could use even more now with Murphy getting traded. I think if Lance Stephenson ever matures as a person, he could be a tremendous steal as a second-round pick.
The Pacers have not made a playoff appearance in the past four seasons, and more than likely, that streak will continue this season. While the team improved their Achilles' heel by adding Collison at the point and have a true star in Granger, there are too many other questions on the roster.
Most notably, who will replace Murphy's productivity up front? Roy Hibbert and Jeff Foster are two big bodies who can play the five. Tyler Hansbrough provides energy, hustle and all those other attributes that made Dick Vitale swoon over him as a college player, but he was unable to stay healthy enough last season to be a regular contributor. He will likely assume the starting power forward position. Outside of those three, the other options include Josh McRoberts, Solomon Jones and Magnum Rolle who should not be seeing big minutes for any playoff-caliber team.
There is also the question of who will start alongside Collison and Granger on the wing. Mike Dunleavy will likely begin the season in that position but needs to rebound from a 2009-10 campaign filled with struggles. Brandon Rush, Dahntay Jones and Posey will all battle for minutes as well, while George and Stephenson could be wild cards but are probably going to be groomed for the future.
Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2011:
The Pacers will be major players next offseason. With Ford, Dunleavy, Foster and FINALLY Jamaal Tinsley's contracts coming off the books, Indiana will have at least $20 million to work with in free agency. Indianapolis is by no means a hot spot for marquee players to sign, but with some good young talent in house, the Pacers might be able to land some quality players. There is also the possibility of management trying to turn those expiring contracts into a star player via trade before the February trade deadline.