There wasn’t too much of a choice for the Indiana Pacers once Lance Stephenson left. They had to sign someone with the limited cap space they have, and it turns out Rodney Stuckey, who until now played his entire career with the Detroit Pistons, will be the man to fill his place in the backcourt.
Stuckey was destined to be a promising building block for the Detroit Pistons when he was drafted out of Eastern Washington, but never really filled the shoes of Chancey Billups or felt too comfortable in them. He averaged 13.9 points per game for them last season, usually coming off the bench for a second straight season in another disappointing campaign for the Pistons.
Stuckey can play point guard, but he is something of a tweener in terms of his natural position. Lance Stephenson might not be a “pure” shooting guard, but Stuckey is even further away from that role. It might mean that he’ll handle it more than George Hill, who is often criticized for being more of a shooter than an actual point guard so eventually this move could prove to be beneficial, not to mention economical, for the Pacers.
Stephenson left for a $9 million-a-year deal with the Hornets. Stuckey isn’t problematic as him, and immediately having someone who isn’t having problems with a key member of the team (Roy Hibbert) brings some sort of improvement. The Pacers lost Stephenson to free agency and their cap situation along with the slim pickings left in the free agency market couldn’t provide them with an All-Star solution.
Some thought it would be better to simply move C.J. Watson to starting point guard and make Hill more of a shooting guard, but the Pacers still believe it’s their window to challenge the crown in the East, which has belonged to the Miami Heat over the last four seasons. Trading someone and starting from the beginning wasn’t an option. That will happen in 2016 most likely, but for now Stuckey was their best and almost only option to keep them seemingly in contention.
Still, it’s hard to argue that this is an upgrade for the team. After all, the Pistons added Jodie Meeks, Caron Butler and D.J. Augustin, making it quite clear that they have no plans to keep Stuckey. When you take leavings from one of the worst teams in the NBA, you can’t say you’ve actually gotten better.