Indiana Pacers 2021 NBA Free Agency Grades For Every Signing
The Indiana Pacers had a fairly quiet offseason following a disappointing 2020-21 campaign that saw them miss out on the playoffs. Their biggest change this summer came in the form of a coaching change. Indiana parted ways with Nate Bjorken after just one season and re-hired former head coach Rick Carlisle to take over the sidelines once again.
Trade rumors, particularly involving their starting center Myles Turner, have surrounded Indiana over the past season and this spilled over to the offseason. So far, however, the Pacers have stood pat on their core. When healthy, they should field out a playoff-caliber campaign this upcoming season.
Perhaps Indiana’s top addition this summer is their no. 13 overall pick Chris Duarte. The 24-year old is considered an NBA-ready prospect and should be able to contribute right away to help the Pacers reach the playoffs.
In free agency, Indiana made sure to keep their core intact by retaining backup point guard TJ McConnell. Their only real recruit this summer is 3-and-D forward Torrey Craig, who played in the 2021 NBA Finals with the Phoenix Suns. McConnell and Craigh really move the needle much for the Pacers, but they should still become solid fixtures in Rick Carlisle’s rotation. Here is how they fared with their two free agency signings this past summer.
Indiana Pacers 2021 NBA Free Agency Grades
TJ McConnell: B
The Pacers re-signed TJ McConnell to a 4-year, $33.6 million deal that should keep him on the roster until at least the 2023-24 campaign.
For what he is, McConnell is as reliable and steady a backup point guard as any team will find in the NBA. He isn’t the most athletic or flashy guy out there and won’t light up the box score very often. What McConnell brings is other intangibles that won’t show up on the stat sheet. The 6-foot-1 guard plays with a lot of energy and effort and is not afraid to do the dirty work for his squad.
Several of McConnell’s former teammates have gone on record saying just how much they love having him on their team. They love his selflessness and shared just much of a team player he is. Sure, McConnell makes a positive impact whenever he’s on the floor. But it seems like his best attribute is his leadership and presence in the locker room. This is perhaps the reason why the Indiana Pacers did what they can to retain his services.
Torrey Craig: B
Indiana signed Torrey Craig to a 2-year, $10 million deal this past summer. As mentioned earlier, Craig played a key reserve role for the Phoenix Suns throughout their magical run in the 2021 postseason. The 30-year old was a star in his role and often guarded the opposing team’s top wing players. Having played in the same capacity for the Denver Nuggets previously, the 30-year old has shown throughout his career that can make a positive winning impact on any team he goes to.
Indiana should benefit from the 3-and-D swingman’s presence on their team. The Indiana Pacers may be loaded with forwards and guards, but with the energy and hustle he plays with, Craig should find a niche in coach Carlisle’s rotation.