If there is one thing we have learned from being fans of the NBA, it’s that the reputation and attraction of some teams in the league outweighs the others. The attempt that many teams make to glamorize their franchise for future free agents often fails to work. The Indiana Pacers, despite their recent success in the Eastern Conference, are not considered one of the large-market teams in the league. The underlying consequence that they may face will arise in the summer of 2014, during the next free agency period.
Many would argue that the Pacers have one of the most intriguing histories in all of basketball, from the 1990s duo of Reggie Miller and Mark Jackson to the tough and controversial Stephen Jackson/Jermaine O’Neal era. Unfortunately, the lack of having that one top-five superstar on the team is something that could prevent Indiana from landing the names that will be available next offseason.
Among the top targets in 2014 will include LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Paul George, Pau Gasol, Amar’e Stoudemire and Rudy Gay. George, the current Pacers star, will have one tough decision to either stay in Indianapolis or jump ship to a better environment and possibly create another “super team” in the league.
When Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Chicago are all on the table for these top free agents, Pacers’ management obviously understands how difficult it will be to recruit any marquee talent to join the current roster. In a recent interview, George verbally expressed a possibility for his decision next summer, saying, “It would be hard saying no to Kobe,” implying that the Los Angeles Lakers would be on his list of destinations. All of this signals a possible disaster for Indiana, a team that would look puzzled as to why players could turn them down.
Having one of the most complete rosters in the league, taking into account the additions of Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson for bench scoring, the Pacers only continue to improve. Not being located in a larger market, Indiana has been forced to make the best of what they have. They do have one of the smartest and most-loved coaches in Frank Vogel, who builds his team on chemistry and trust rather than just talent.
Will Indiana be able to retain Paul George and keep improving?
We recently heard the news of Larry Bird re-joining the team’s front office after his leave of absence, which could really improve their chances of succeeding in the 2014 offseason. Understanding the need for a team with a superstar, you have to believe Bird will do what it takes to retain George, a 2012-13 All-Star. Being one win away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years, they are only looking to polish the system they currently have.
While it would be ideal to land a five-star player in James, Anthony or Bryant, it is very unlikely for any team like the Pacers. It won’t affect their chemistry and success, however, if they can just hold on to the talent they have already developed.