Under current conditions, the Indiana Pacers have no chance to compete for an NBA championship. Here we’ll detail the reasons for that sobering reality.
Lack of parity is a problem the NBA is currently facing, and that issue is of particular concern for franchises like the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers deal with certain disadvantages that make it difficult — if not impossible — for them to compete at the highest level in today’s NBA.
Indiana is a small market team, so their revenue streams are very limited compared to those of many other franchises in the league. Because of this, ownership has not been willing to go over the NBA’s luxury tax threshold.
That isn’t likely to change, and not just due to the lack of available funds. If the Pacers do decide at some point to pay the luxury tax in order to build a more competitive team, who would they spend all that money on?
That brings us to the next point: free agency. Indiana never has and never will be an attractive destination for NBA free agents. Indianapolis simply cannot offer the warm climate and exciting lifestyle that draws elite NBA players.
The possibility of winning a championship is the other way that star players can be enticed to sign with a team, but the Pacers can’t use that as a selling point.
Conversely, Indiana won’t become a true contender without the ability to add big-impact free agents, so they are caught in a classic catch-22.
Perhaps the best NBA free agent the Pacers have ever been able to sign is David West. Indiana acquired West in 2011, and they were only able to sign the former NBA All-Star because he was on the wrong side of 30 and coming off a severe knee injury.
The NBA Draft is another way teams can build a strong roster, but Indiana has a handicap there as well. For many years, the mantra in Indiana has been to be as competitive as possible, each and every season.
In the last 20 years, the Pacers have had one top 10 draft choice, and it was 10th overall (Paul George in 2010). This is the price you pay when your team is average-to-good, but never bad enough to earn a high lottery pick.
Indiana struck gold by choosing Paul George, but drafting one All-Star is not nearly enough to place a team in the conversation for an NBA title.
Given the team’s inability to sign superstar free agents and the near-impossibility of landing multiple stars through the draft, how can the Pacers obtain enough talent to compete for a spot in the NBA Finals?
The short answer to that question? They can’t.
Indiana can always pursue trades, but in order to acquire top-flight assets, you must have players or draft picks that other teams want.
Since the Pacers don’t have an abundance of such assets, they are relegated to making smaller moves in the trade market to make marginal improvements to the roster.
For the sake of argument, let’s say for a moment that Indiana is able to defy the overwhelming odds and get close to becoming a contender in the near future.
Now, the concern becomes keeping the players who got you there. It is very likely that some of those players will head for greener pastures once their individual value has been elevated.
Why? Because the Pacers would have trouble retaining top players for many of the same reasons they have so much difficulty acquiring them in the first place.
In the future, some of these parameters could change. But in order for the Indiana Pacers to build a true championship-caliber team, the stars would have to align perfectly in every way, and that feels like no more than a pipe dream at this point.
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Source: Fox Sports