Pacers Free Agency Preview: Quantity Over All-Star Quality?

Pacers Free Agency Preview: Quantity Over All-Star Quality?

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Pacers Free Agency Preview: Quantity Over All-Star Quality?

With NBA free agency beginning on Sunday night, here’s a preview of what the Pacers are expected to do with the open cap space.

Joe Robbins | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – If you’re looking for the home run move, the one that has the Pacers actually receiving attention from the national media, don’t get your hopes up.

Kevin Pritchard is throwing up the caution flag on the Pacers handing out a max contract when free agency begins on Sunday evening.

It’s looking things for Indiana will be much more about finding quantity, versus high-end quality, this summer.

“In free agency, I’ve got to plug some holes,” Pritchard says. “I have to see who fits, who we can go after.

“We are going to have $40 million plus, but when you think about it, that’s really not as much as you think when you have 3 or holes to fill because a max contact is $32 million. It starts at $32 million, so do the math on a max: you have a little over $40, you are going to have to figure out how to plug a few players to fit us that maybe don’t take the whole piece of the pie.”

That’s the dilemma that Pritchard currently faces.

Four of the five starters to end last season are free agents: Darren Collison, Wesley Matthews, Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young. And Cory Joseph is also an unrestricted free agent.

That means you have open spots that need to be filled at point guard and small forward, with shooting guard also high on the list, given the latest injury news on Victor Oladipo.

Bogdanovic is the most likely to return with Indiana still hoping to bring back their top scorer from late last season.

But the market is going to be plentiful for the 30-year-old Bogdanovic.

“At all costs, we are going to try and get Bogey back,” Pritchard says. “He’s us. I think he plays a little (shooting guard/small forward). Bogey is important to us. We would like to keep that negotiation and start that on (June 30) We’ve developed a great relationship. I spent some time with him in Croatia last year. We didn’t talk about basketball.

“At the end of the (2018-19) season, Bogey said if it’s close with any other team, I’ll come back to Indiana, so I think if we are in the ballpark, he’ll come back. But it’s not done until it’s done.”

If Bogey does return, the Pacers would have some options at the 2 and 3 (maybe T.J. Warren?), with the thought they are ready to hand the starting 4 and 5 keys to Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, respectively.

But point guard remains a concern.

It does not appear the Pacers are ready to hand Aaron Holiday the starting keys.

Some early reports have the Pacers being in the market for veteran Ricky Rubio, even though his strength is not that of a shooter.

Hearing Pritchard talk about how he looks at a point guard though and it seems to fall in line with a guy like Rubio.

“I’m not afraid to stick with what I was taught by Roy Williams and Larry Brown in college and Bob Knight,” Pritchard says. “I think some of those principles sway, but I think the pendulum always swings back. If it does, then maybe the traditional point guard does come back. Then maybe we value that again, maybe we value the John Stockton’s. I like when the point guard controls a game, takes care of his teammates first and he’s a pass first guy. I like that basketball, so I’m not opposed to going the contrarian…and maybe a traditional point guard is okay for us.”

While Pritchard is honest when looking ahead to the free agency in 2019, that doesn’t mean Indiana will not at least make an attempt for a bigger name.

“What I can tell you is on that July 1, we will make every single call to that appropriate person, whether it’s a 10-year All-Star or it’s a guy we feel is for our bench, but I’m calling and recruiting that guy,” Pritchard says. “I can promise you that I’m putting a critical amount of energy and resources into having that conversation and doing whatever it takes to getting a meeting. My problem is sometimes I can’t even get the meeting and that’s why in the draft, you have to take your risks, you have to take the outside risks. I can try to do everything I can to make the best decision there and develop the heck out of those guys because at the end of the day, if a player says he wants to go to Miami, I can’t compete with it. We don’t leave any stone unturned. We will do everything we can to get 5 minutes with that guy. Sometimes they say not worth your time. But I’ll keep knocking on that door. I’m not afraid to knock on that door all day, every day.”

But that answer from such a knock will be the biggest question for the Pacers, with such a pivotal week coming in just a few days.

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