The pressure will be on the Indiana Pacers to make big moves this summer. They’ve been promoting the fact that they have so much cap space for the free agency in 2019 since trading away former franchise-player Paul George.
The fact that the Pacers are projected to have nearly $43 million in salary cap space this summer was a common topic during their end of season press conference. Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard stated that the team will be ‘aggressive’ with that cap space.
“We’ve got $43 million in cap space.” Pritchard said. “A lot of things can be done with that. A lot of people think that’s all about just signing a player. Really what happens with $43 million in cap space (is that) it allows you to do uneven trades, it allows trades to go into that cap space, it allows you to go sign players, it just gives you a lot of flexibility.
“We’re going to be aggressive this summer. We’re going to be very opportunistic and when we see some opportunities come up, we’re going to be willing to pounce on those.”
There is nothing that makes a team better quite like adding a star player like Jimmy Butler, especially for a team that has their lone All-Star coming off a season-ending injury. It is rare that a player of that caliber chooses to come to Indiana but that can’t stop them from at least trying to pull it off.
Here are three reasons why Jimmy Butler could be ideal for the Pacers:
3. Jimmy Butler would be a significant upgrade in talent
The Pacers received a strong season of a production from Bojan Bogdanovic but it wasn’t enough. While he is an effective perimeter shooter, he is unable to break down a defense off the dribble at a high level and it showed in their playoff matchup with the Boston Celtics. They need a true star like Butler that can shoulder the responsibility of being a top option.
During the Pacers’ end of season press conference, Pritchard mentioned how the team’s identity has been build on defense but they need to ‘look at the offensive side of the ball’ and they need to bring in players that can make plays off the dribble and shoot.
“Our heart and soul of our team has been defense,” Pritchard said. “We’ve been a defensive team. But you’re seeing it’s an offensive league and so much that the rules are changing to give the offensive guy even more advantage. So I think we’ve got to look at the offensive side of the ball. I think we got to bring in players in that do one of two things — or both if you can — and that is why we need someone who can create.
“We need a guy that can break down the defense. And then shot-making is always going to be paramount, but it’s more paramount than it’s ever been before. If you have four or five guys out there with one or two that can create and other guys that can really shoot, it’s almost impossible to stop a team.”
A player like Butler would actually improve the Pacers’ defense while providing them with a much needed upgrade in the playmaking department. He may not be close to being the caliber of shooter that Bogdanovic has proven to be in recent seasons, but the vast improvement in every other area would strongly outweigh that decline in perimeter shooting.
2. Jimmy Butler is the type of leader that the Pacers need
The Pacers have earned rave reviews about how strong their locker room culture is as an organization. While it’s important to have a team full of players with good personalities that show up to work to do their job professionally, there is a need to add more assertive leadership.
The type of leadership that Butler brings to the table is what the Pacers need for young players like Myles Turner. Sometimes, breakthroughs in player development can occur when the leader(s) of a team displays real confidence in his teammate and that did not appear to be the case for Turner last season.
There are little things that Butler does throughout games that may go unnoticed by the average viewer but would help the Pacers. For example, Joel Embiid has not been shooting particularly well from beyond the arc in the playoffs and he was hesitant to shoot — but Butler encouraged him to let if fly.
Jimmy Butler kept yelling at Joel Embiid to shoot the ball 😂
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 3, 2019
Indiana’s veterans often did not play the game with a focus to help their young counterparts improve this season. They often went away from Turner when he posted up smaller players after switches and looked him off from the perimeter in favor when he was spacing the floor in favor of putting shots up of their own.
1. Jimmy Butler is a reliable late-game closer
A significant issue that the Pacers faced after Victor Oladipo went down with injury was their complete lack of a reliable late game closer. It’s probably not wise to rely on a single player that heavily, especially next season when that individual will be coming off a season-ending injury. This wouldn’t be an issue if you insert Butler into the picture.
There were moments in a few of the Pacers’ recent losses to the Celtics in the playoffs that could have gone from a loss to a win had they benefited from a star player shouldering the load down the stretch. The difference in late game situations was often that Boston had Kyrie Irving while Indiana definitely did not.
“They put the ball in Kyrie’s hands,” Thaddeus Young said. “As you can see, he had 37 (points) tonight. When they put the ball in that guy’s hands, he makes things happen. He made some tough shots and I think that was the ending factor for us. He was making shots and they were playing defense and we weren’t able to make shots.”
Between making big defensive plays leading to easy baskets and being able to create his own shot off the dribble and knocking it down, there are many ways that Butler impacts the game down the stretch. Bogdanovic proved to be incapable of being able to compare to Butler in this way and that’s what separates the ‘good’ from the ‘great’ in the NBA.
👀 the BEST of @JimmyButler in the 4th Q this season!
— NBA (@NBA) May 2, 2019
Managing to pair a player like Butler with a healthy Oladipo would make for a dangerous late-game attack for the Pacers. Both players routinely come up with crucial defensive plays down the stretch and are proficient in making tough shots when their teams need it the most. It may take Oladipo some time to find his form next season, but they could be a special duo once he does.