Indiana Pacers have issues to address
by Mike Wells, USA TODAY Sports
The Indiana Pacers were an upbeat group for a team whose season came to an end Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Should the Pacers have sulked after the Miami Heat eliminated them in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals?
They could have, especially after their 23-point beatdown. But the Pacers know there’s a bright future ahead of them.
As the always-overly-positive coach Frank Vogel said with a smile at the podium: “Everybody in the country knows who the Indiana Pacers are now.”
The Pacers, once the joke of the NBA for their off-court problems, continue their rise in the league.
A first-round playoff exit two years ago. An Eastern Conference semifinal exit to the Heat last year. And now a seven-game battle against the Heat this season.
But the Pacers have to get better if they expect to push — and overtake — the Heat next season.
That’s why, with the end of each season, changes are bound to happen.
Here’s a look at five question marks surrounding the Pacers this summer:
1. Will David West return? Will Danny Granger be healthy?
West, who stayed quiet about his upcoming free agency all season, didn’t hold back Monday about his desire to return to the Pacers next season.
Teams will pursue West once free agency starts July 1, but the Pacers are his first choice.
“I’m not (expletive) dumb, I don’t plan on going anywhere,” West said. “These are my guys.”
The Pacers will be about $7 million under the salary cap with some exceptions that will allow them to exceed the cap.
Granger, who missed all but five games this season, has six to eight weeks of rehabilitation to go after surgery to remove scar tissue in his patella tendon and is confident he’ll be ready for training camp and expects to return to the starting lineup.
2. Improve the bench
The Pacers tried — and failed — to improve their bench last summer. The bench was one of the worst in the league. It’s a good thing the starters were so tied in together that they were able to overcome the inconsistent play of the reserves.
The bench failed to produce again in the … [For more on Indiana Pacers have issues to address, click here.]