What happens now

Indiana Pacers look to grow as a team and move on from the past

What happens now

Jack Moutardier, Reporter

On June 24, 2021, the Indiana Pacers made a splash, signing the biggest head coach in the history of the team since Larry Bird, Rick Carlisle. Carlisle, who was formerly with Mavericks, was fired and the Pacers wasted no time in hiring their head coach from 2003 to 2007.

During Carlisle’s first season with the team last year, the chemistry was off and something needed to be done. A little past the midway point of the season, a day before the trade deadline the Pacers made a huge move. They traded All-Star player, Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb and Justin Holiday, and in return received Buddy Hield and young talent Tyrese Haliburton. This trade would be one of the biggest deals in team history and change the team for the foreseeable future. 

The Pacers finished the 2021-2022 season 25-57, while many would see this as a negative, the future was bright and it would allow the Pacers a great opportunity. Going into the draft lottery the Pacers had a 10.5% chance of getting the first pick. However, they ended up with the sixth pick and selected Arizona SG Bennedict Mathurin. They would select PG Andrew Nembhard with the 31st pick in the second round.

Following the draft the rest of the off-season was quiet. This, paired with being in the top ten youngest teams in the league, would spell out low expectations for the season. However, the Pacers finished November 2022 12-9, the future was bright but it would take a step back on January 11 with star player Tyrese Haliburton’s injury to his ankle vs the Knicks which would shut him down for a while. Since that injury the Pacers season went downhill and they would finish with a record of 35-47.

The Pacers, who have the eighth-highest lottery chances in the draft at 6.4%, will look to get another key piece added to the roster. However, with such a deep team some players might have to go. Some of the pieces the Pacers might look to move on from this year could include Chris Duarte and Buddy Hield. This would be necessary as with young stars Bennedict Mathurin, Andrew Nembhard, and Tyrese Haliburton playing time is huge. The Pacers will also have a top-tier rookie addition to the team which will need time to develop as well. Lastly, long-time center and newly-signed 3-year-deal player Myles Turner will need his share of minutes as well.

What moves should be next?

Aside from injuries for the Pacers, an abundance of problems within the team surrounded around too many guards and not enough forwards. This is why they need to move on from Hield and Duarte and look to draft a star forward in the draft this summer, June 23. The team has a lot of talent but the missing holes are obvious and essential to fix.

The biggest goal of the Pacers is going to be finding the right guy in the NBA Draft. With so much talent and such a high potential pick, they will have an abundance of talent to choose from and they will need to make the best of their pick. Some of the top options for the team include forward Brandon Miller, forward Jarace Walker, and guard Anthony Black.

Taking everything into account, this upcoming season will be very exciting for the Pacers. With so many pieces and a top pick in the draft, this next season could be a huge step up for the Pacers. However, as fans, all we can hope for is for the staff to make the right moves.