NBA Free agency begins on July 1st, and one of the few teams with salary cap room is Indiana. The Pacers, coming off a shocking 48-win season in which they pushed the Cavs to seven games in the first round of the playoffs, have a strong young nucleus with Victor Oladipo (NBA’s most improved player) and center Myles Turner, plus role players like Bojan Bogdanovic (12.4 ppg vs the Cavs), Domantas Sabonis (who just turned 22) and Thaddeus Young (11.3 ppg vs the Cavs).
They’ve even got promising – yet untested – young players, such as T.J. Leaf (21 years old) and Aaron Holiday (also 21).
And now, with their salary cap room, can the Pacers add restricted free agent Aaron Gordon?
Gordon is an intriguing talent who turns 23 in September and has already started 174 games in four years. He just shot a career-best 33 percent on 3-pointers. Yes, that’s still a low number – remember, Russell Westbrook shot 29 percent from deep last year – but the volume (115) is encouraging.
Kawhi Leonard, who arrived in the NBA and immediately got with a shot doctor, didn’t make 115 three’s until his 5th year in the NBA.
Let’s look at the hypothetical Pacers depth chart with Gordon (remember, they are letting Lance Stephenson walk):
C – Myles Turner/Domantas Sabonis
F – Thaddeus Young/T.J. Leaf
F – Aaron Gordon/Bojan Bogdanovic
G – Victor Oladipo/Cory Joseph
G – Darren Collison/Aaron Holiday
I have Boston 1st in the East next year, possibly winning 65 games. The 76ers, even if they add nobody in free agency, are a 55+ win team. If LeBron goes to the Lakers, the contenders for the 3rd spot in the East are Milwaukee (let’s see what happens with Jabari Parker); Toronto (new head coach); and Washington (good luck figuring them out).
Why can’t Indiana slide into that 3rd spot?