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A lot has happened to the Indiana Pacers since being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs in May.
Larry Bird resigned. Monta Ellis got waived. C.J. Miles got traded. And Paul George … well, you know the story.
That’s not all. Jeff Teague signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Aaron Brooks and Lavoy Allen entered free agency and aren’t expected to return. On and on it goes.
Based on all of the above, you might say the Pacers are headed for a terrible season and perhaps a nice pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. And you may be right.
But there may be some things to like about this new band of Pacers, too.
For one, coach Nate McMillan and big man Myles Turner return, and they remain two large reasons for hope.
Shooting guard Victor Oladipo has failed to live up to the wild hype that surrounded him entering the 2013 draft — but maybe a return to Indiana, where he played his college ball, will give him an extra push. Many around the league believe Oladipo has been a victim of circumstance, and is now ready to shine. He will certainly get every opportunity.
Point guards Darren Collison and Cory Joseph are also new (Collison is actually a Pacer for the second time), and while neither is considered an ultra-dynamic floor leader, both are fairly steady and always play hard.
Pacers first-round draft pick T.J. Leaf is a skilled big man with a high upside — and second-year forward Domantas Sabonis, also obtained in the George deal with Oklahoma City, still has promise.
The question is, will it be enough? Will the Pacers be able to return to the playoffs, and show they’re as good without George as they were with him last season?
Will they play hard, play smart and play like a team with lots of pride? Or would they be better off taking it easy, keeping the young guys in the game with an eye on development and the other on the next lottery pick?
Remember, this is the Eastern Conference. Being a seed in the No. 6-8 range isn’t as tough as it is out West.
Anyway, let us know your thoughts on the Pacers in the comments section below, and we will read and respond!