The Pacers went into the offseason wanting to keep their starting lineup from last season together.
In order to do that, though, the Pacers had to re-sign guard George Hill and center Roy Hibbert.
Hibbert? Also a check.
The Pacers came to terms with Hill just days after the free agency period began. Hill agreed to a five-year, $40 million deal to return to his hometown team.
“I think it’s a blessing,” Hill said. “I think it’s big for the city of Indianapolis. They’re not only getting a good player, they’re also getting a good guy in the community. We want to keep things moving on this Pacers journey to try to get better each year.”
Hill became the starting point guard late last season when Darren Collison went down with an injury. The Pacers won seven straight games with Hill as the starter, and he averaged 15.4 points and 5.4 assists during that stretch.
Keeping Hibbert wasn’t as easy for the Pacers.
Portland offered the big man a four-year, $58 million deal hours into the free agency period on July 1.
After thinking about it for more than the week, the Pacers told Hibbert not to worry about signing the offer sheet, that they would give him the exact same contract.
Now the Pacers likely will return all five starters — Hill, Hibbert, David West, Danny Granger and Paul George — from a team that finished with the fifth-best record in the NBA last season.
“To keep things rolling, you need to get everybody back so it’s the way it was before,” Hill said.
— The Pacers officially signed unrestricted free agent PG D.J. Augustin to a one-year deal July 13, filling the vacancy created when Darren Collison was dealt to the Mavericks two days earlier.
Augustin’s $4 million qualifying offer as a restricted free agent was withdrawn by the Bobcats, who had been negotiating a sign-and-trade deal with Indiana. When the offer was rescinded, Augustin officially became an unrestricted free agent able to sign with any team.
“D.J. is an excellent pick-up for this team,” said Pacers’ GM Kevin Pritchard in a release. “He’s an amazing kid that will fit well here with the Pacers’ family. His experience will be valuable as we move our franchise forward. Our priority is to keep our own players and then to fill in the holes that exist. D.J. helps us accomplish that.”
The Bobcats’ 2011 first-round pick, Kemba Walker, and veteran newcomer Ramon Sessions are expected to compete for the starting point guard job in Charlotte.
Augustin was the ninth overall pick in the 2008 draft. He started 128 of a possible 130 games over the past two seasons with the Bobcats, and he averaged 11.1 points and 6.4 assists last season. — C Ian Mahinmi agreed to a sign-and-trade move that sent him from Dallas to Indiana in exchange for G Darren Collison and F/G Dahntay Jones.
Mahinmi, 25, will get a four-year, $16 million deal. He averaged 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds for the Mavericks last season.
Collison, 24, averaged 10.3 points and 4.8 assists for the Pacers last season. He figures to take over as Dallas’ point guard with Jason Kidd moving to New York.
Jones, 31, averaged 16.2 minutes per game last year for the Pacers, and he averaged 5.3 points and 1.8 rebounds.
Collison and Jones both have one year left on their contracts.
— Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw, who was passed over for the Charlotte Bobcats job, interviewed for the vacant Orlando Magic position recently. Many in the Pacers organization believe that Shaw, who didn’t get the Golden State Warriors or Los Angeles Lakers jobs last summer, will get either the Orlando or vacant Portland position this offseason.
— Larry Bird, who announced in late June that he was stepping down as president of the Pacers after four seasons, was in Orlando watching the team’s summer league squad in mid-July. Bird, who is taking the year off, has fondness for G Lance Stephenson and F Jeff Pendergraph, two players he personally acquired through trades.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s definitely maybe a little harder than I thought. We put in a lot of sets, a lot of defenses, covered a lot of things.” — Rookie C Miles Plumlee, about an early workout with the Pacers. He was a first-round pick out of Duke.