Indiana Pacers – First Lance Stephenson, Now Paul George

Paul George

The biggest losers in the whole Paul George injury drama? Obviously, the Indiana Pacers, who have seen their status in the Eastern conference turned from title contenders and possible favorites a few months ago into a team that might not even make the playoffs considering all that they’ve lost this off-season, through injury or to free agency with Lance Stephenson bolting.

The Pacers do begin paying Paul George his maximum contract this season, but there is an injury exception that might help them shave around $5 million from the salary cap. Not that it’s going to help them by too much. There is no player who can fill in for George and give them the same kind of offense and defense from one of the hottest rising stars in the league, who is no longer an All-Star by potential but a given fact.

The call to sign Shawn Marion is growing stronger now with their problem at the Small Forward position. Maybe Chris Copeland will finally get more minutes than Frank Vogel was ever planning on giving him, but for now, the core of the Pacers looks like this: George Hill, Rodney Stuckey or C.J. Miles, Copeland, David West and Roy Hibbert. Even in the East, without any kind of depth, this doesn’t look like a playoff team.

Everyone is focused on the debate of whether or not NBA players should take part in Olympic and FIBA tournaments. That is just a knee jerk reaction, and a chance for Mark Cuban to once again show how different and outspoken he is. Not all of his ideas are bad, but he forgets to mention the insurance factor of all of this. Cuban talks about money, but there other things here, and most of them are about basketball.

The George injury was a freak accident. Obviously, the Pacers would love to see him rest during the summer. The Chicago Bulls have talked about how happy they are to see Derrick Rose play for Team USA, but deep down they’d love to see him off the court, or at least off of it when he doesn’t have anything Bulls-related to do. And yet the players want to play international basketball. It’s not always about the money, even if there is someone making some off of them in international basketball.

With Lance Stephenson gone because of money issues and an inflated sense of self-importance, the Pacers find themselves in big trouble as the East gets completely reshaped heading into next season. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls look like favorites, while the Miami Heat won’t be as bad as most thought they would be. The Charlotte Bobcats are worth taking a look at, while the Indiana Pacers suddenly seem like a team waiting for the season to be over before it even got started.

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