Indiana Pacers: Evaluating the team’s in-house free agents

Apr 17, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Jeff Teague (44) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) during the first half in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers have four potential in-house free agents to evaluate this summer. Which of these players need to be re-signed, and which ones should be allowed to walk?

Like every NBA team, the Indiana Pacers head into the offseason with a number of roster issues that must be addressed.

One of the decisions that has to be made concerns the team’s free agents, which will include as many as four players from last season’s roster.

Two players are unrestricted free agents, one has a player option and there is a team option on the fourth.

New president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard will decide which of these players warrant a contract offer, and just as importantly, how much each player is worth to the team.

Here are the Pacers’ four potential free agents, a look at what they have contributed to the club, and the plausibility that they will still be in Indiana when the 2017-18 season opens.

Apr 8, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Jeff Teague (44) calls out a play in the first quarter against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Teague

Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

2016-17 Statistics: 15.3 PPG, 7.8 APG, 4.0 RPG

Point guard Jeff Teague came to the Indiana Pacers in a three-team trade last summer that sent incumbent lead guard George Hill to the Utah Jazz. After a slow start, Teague responded with perhaps his best statistical season as a pro.

Teague’s 2016-17 salary was $8.8 million, and he is expected to command a sizable raise when he signs a new deal this offseason.

Indiana wants to have him back, but the cost could be prohibitive.

If the Pacers feel they can’t afford to pay Jeff Teague top dollar to remain with the team, they could opt to insert Lance Stephenson into the starting lineup at point guard.

“Born Ready” played that position with the second unit after joining the club late in the season, and he fared quite well as the backup point guard.

The Pacers know they have to be thrifty if they intend to sign Paul George to a massive new deal next summer, so it is possible they could get priced out of the competition to sign Jeff Teague.

The result of this will depend largely on what other teams offer the 6-foot-2 speedster — Indiana wants Teague with the team long-term, but the cost may simply be too rich.

Mar 15, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward C.J. Miles (0) dribbles the ball while Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb (3) defends in the second half of the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana Pacers beat the Charlotte Hornets 98-77. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. Miles

Status: Player Option

2016-17 Statistics:10.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 0.6 APG

The Pacers signed C.J. Miles during the summer of 2014 in an effort to bolster the team’s long-range shooting, and he has given Indiana what they expected from the 6-foot-6 swingman.

Miles can opt out of his contract this summer, and given that he is only due to make $4.8 million in 2017-18, he will probably do just that.

Miles had a solid season for the Blue and Gold, which included shooting a career-high 41 percent from three-point range.

He also added a new dimension to his game in 2016-17, as he worked on driving around oncoming defenders who were intent on taking away his looks from beyond the arc. This addition has made Miles an even more effective offensive threat.

Miles is arguably the best shooter on a team that lacks consistent outside shooting, so his value as a sixth man and part-time starter is clear.

If C.J. Miles can be retained for a reasonable figure, the Pacers would be wise to re-sign him, but this is the small market Indiana Pacers, so money will always be an issue.

It seems likely that Miles will return, as long as someone doesn’t come along and make a mind-blowing contract offer to the 12-year veteran.

Mar 1, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; Indiana Pacers power forward Lavoy Allen (5) shoots the ball past San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol (16) during the second half at AT&T Center. The Spurs won 100-99. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Lavoy Allen

Status: Team Option

2016-17 Statistics: 3.6 RPG, 2.9 PPG, 0.9 APG

Lavoy Allen has been an underdog his entire NBA career, but he has persevered and even prospered as a professional basketball player over the past six seasons.

The Philadelphia 76ers made Allen a late second round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and he defied the odds by making the team and staying in the league for multiple seasons.

Lavoy Allen was a throw-in when Indiana made a trade deadline move to get Evan Turner in 2014. Turner is long gone, but Allen has carved out a niche as a reliable backup for the Pacers.

Allen is a solid veteran big man, known primarily for his offensive rebounding prowess. The team must decide if Allen is worth his scheduled $4.3 million salary for 2017-18, and it appears likely that Kevin Pritchard will let Lavoy Allen explore free agency this summer.

Allen found himself out of the rotation much of the 2016-17 season due to the presence of Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin and even young project Rakeem Christmas.

Allen is a good locker room presence and “emergency” bench piece, but he has hit his ceiling as an NBA player, so Indiana will probably move on from him this summer.

Mar 31, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Indiana Pacers guard Aaron Brooks (00) shoots as Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka (9) defends during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Brooks

Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

2016-17 Statistics: 5.0 PPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 RPG

Aaron Brooks has had an interesting NBA career, playing roles that have varied from sitting on the end of the bench to being a highly productive starter (19.6 points per game for the Houston Rockets in 2009-10).

At 6’0″ and 160 pounds, Brooks has had a lot to overcome in terms of size and strength, but he has managed to parlay his offensive skills into a nine-year career in the NBA.

Brooks began this past season as the Pacers’ backup point guard, but he was in and out of the rotation during the 2016-17 campaign.

When Lance Stephenson was signed late in the year, Brooks’ role on the team evaporated as Stephenson played significant minutes as the club’s backup point guard.

Aaron Brooks came to Indiana on a one-year deal that gave him an opportunity to showcase himself and possibly earn a second contract with the Pacers, but both his performance and playing time were inconsistent last year.

There could be a spot on the team for Brooks if starting point guard Jeff Teague is not re-signed, but otherwise, it appears doubtful that Brooks has a future with the Indiana Pacers.

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