30 teams in 30 days: Tough times on horizon for Pacers


We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Indiana Pacers.

With Paul George, the Indiana Pacers were a middle-of-the road club last season that squeaked into the playoffs only to be swept out of the first round by Cleveland.

Now that he’s no longer a Pacer, tougher times loom on the horizon for Indiana as the Pacers begin their rebuilding process.

George was shipped out to Oklahoma City earlier this summer after requesting a trade, in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantis Sabonis.

The Pacers made a number of moves to add more talent and depth to their roster, but their changes don’t quite measure up on paper at least, to some of the upgrades made by a number of other teams in the East heading into this season.

Filling the void left by George is not easy, especially when you consider they had no choice but to trade him.

“Paul was not staying beyond this year,” said Kevin Pritchard, Indiana’s president of basketball operations. “There was no chance … at the end of the day, he really wanted to be with another team.”

With George gone, the Pacers will now build around third-year pro Myles Turner who showed flashes of being a reliable, go-to guy for Indiana in the near future. Adding Oladipo should help fill some of the scoring void left by George’s departure, while Sabonis’ inside-outside versatility should also be a benefit to the Pacers who are hoping to extend their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to three straight, and seven in eight seasons.

Turner, who averaged 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks last season while connecting on 51.1 percent of his shots and 34.8 percent from 3-point range, will have to step his play up to a near All-Star level in order for the Pacers to defy most expectations which have them failing to make the playoffs.

“I think it’s very possible this year,” Turner said on the Frank Isola and Brian Scalabrine show on Sirius radio. “I think we can … get in this year, getting off to a hot start and maintain it throughout the year.”

Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Victor Oladipo (Oklahoma City); Domantis Sabonis (Oklahoma City); Darren Collison (Sacramento); Cory Joseph (Toronto); Bogdan Bogdanovic (Washington).

Key losses: Paul George (Oklahoma City).

Rookies of note: T.J. Leaf.

Expectations: 38-44 (Fourth in the Central Division, 13th in the East)

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