Indiana Pacers offseason recap and what it means for the Detroit Pistons

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 08: Myles Turner /

It was a rough offseason for the Indiana Pacers, who don’t return four of their top six players in minutes played from last season, including perennial All-Star Paul George. Central Division rival Detroit Pistons catch a break—they haven’t finished ahead of Indiana in the standings since George was drafted in 2010.

The Detroit Pistons’ divisional rival, the Indiana Pacers, quite possibly had the roughest offseason of any team in the NBA. This was headlined by the loss of Paul George, whom they traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the onset of free agency for Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, and no draft picks.

In June, George informed the Pacers that he wasn’t willing to re-sign with them next offseason when he becomes a free agent. Indiana resolved to move George shortly after. The return that they eventually settled on from the Thunder was paltry, but George’s upfront comments and one-year contract did stifle their leverage.

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Still, it’s a disappointing return for a player of George’s caliber for Indiana. It’s something that would never have happened under Larry Bird, who’s said to have held unwavering high return standards in any potential George trade. But Bird resigned on May 1, and Kevin Pritchard took over as president of basketball operations and did the legwork here.

And thus a brand new era is beginning for Indiana, who only missed the playoffs one time (the year George missed all but six games with that gruesome leg injury he suffered in 2014) during George’s seven seasons with the franchise.

But George’s absence is far from the only thing that will be different about the 2017-2018 Pacers.

In George, Teague, Ellis and Miles, the Pacers don’t return four of their top six leaders in minutes played from last season. Their over/under win total set by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook reflects that. The oddsmaker has their O/U at 31.5 wins, fifth lowest in the Eastern Conference and seventh lowest overall.

With a projected starting five of Collision, Oladipo, Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, and Turner and a rotation that is expected to include Joseph, Stephenson, Glenn Robinson, Sabonis, Al Jefferson and perhaps Leaf, the Pacers don’t offer a lot in the way of confidence on paper.

It’s a full-on rebuild for Indiana in the truest form. They only have two players on the current roster under contract past the summer of 2019: Oladipo and Anigbogu (although they do have team options for Leaf and Sabonis that summer as well).

The new management regime essentially has a blank slate to work with. Presumably, their work begins by trying to build around the talented, 21-year-old Myles Turner, who will soon become a very rich man when he’s eligible for the designated rookie extension next summer.

The Detroit Pistons benefit from Indiana’s change of direction in a big way. During George’s seven seasons, Detroit never finished ahead of the Pacers in the standings and was 7-20 in head-to-head matchups. The Pistons’ fortune should change on both of those counts this season.

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Expect Detroit to finish with a better record than Indiana for the first time since the 2008-2009 season. The lottery-bound Pacers look like they are on their way to a top seven or eight pick next summer, while the Pistons should compete for a playoff spot in the weakened Eastern Conference.