Pacers start dealing to build bench
INDIANAPOLIS — Their biggest priorities handled, the Indiana Pacers are getting aggressive in filling their secondary needs.
Having agreed to terms with restricted free agents Roy Hibbert and George Hill to keep the starting lineup intact, the Pacers have begun the process of reshaping their second unit by reportedly sending Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones to Dallas in exchange for 25-year-old center Ian Mahinmi, as well as agreeing to terms on a three-year, $10 million contract with free agent shooting guard Gerald Green.
Mahinmi, who averaged 5.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 61 games including 12 starts for the Mavericks last season, signed a four-year, $16 million contract to facilitate the sign-and-trade deal. The 6-11, 230-pound frontcourt player was raised in France, drafted No. 28 overall by San Antonio in 2005 and signed with Dallas in 2010.
Though no comment was forthcoming from Pacers officials, two of the three players involved in the trade confirmed it via Twitter.
Mahinmi's account posted this message: "Hey, #PacerNation, I'm very excited to start a new journey with indy, looking forward to get to work!!! thanks for the warm welcome pacer fans!"
Jones' account posted this: "Thanks @Pacers fans for all the support over the past 3 years. I gave my heart and soul on the court and in the community."
With the departure of Collison, the Pacers have no backup point guard on the roster and reportedly are interested in Charlotte's D.J. Augustin.
Drafted by Boston one spot behind Danny Granger in 2005 at No. 18, Green bounced from the Celtics to Rockets to Timberwolves to Mavs and eventually out of the league for two years before resurfacing last season in New Jersey. He averaged 12.9 points in 31 games and appeared to shed his early-career issues with immaturity.
These reports come on the heels of the reported agreements for Hibbert (four years, $58 million) and Hill (five years, $40 million).
Portland reportedly intended to sign Hibbert to an offer sheet for the maximum contract offer with the lifting of the NBA moratorium on contract signings today but when news leaked the Pacers planned to match, the Blazers pulled that offer.
The 7-2 center averaged 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.97 blocked shots in his fourth season. In the playoffs, he averaged 11.7 points, 1.2 rebounds and 3.09 blocks.
Hill moved into the starting lineup late in the season and helped spark the team's strong closing surge that included a seven-game win streak that lifted the Pacers to the third seed in the East. He averaged 9.6 points and 2.9 assists overall, but 13.8 points and 5.3 assists as a starter. In the playoffs, Hill averaged 13.5 points and 2.9 assists.
The Pacers front office had no comment on the reports of the contract agreements but Coach Frank Vogel confirmed Hibbert's return in an interview on NBA TV at halftime of a summer league game in Orlando.
"He's such a big part of what we do on both ends of the court," Vogel said. "We want to play a smash-mouth style of offense, playing power-post offense with David West and Roy Hibbert but he's become the anchor of our defense, as well. He's 7-2 with I think about a 7-foot-9 wingspan. He just protects our rim like very few people in this game can do. So to have him back is going to give us the continuity we need to take the next step."
Mahinmi likely would slide right into the backup center role, allowing first-round pick Miles Plumlee time to develop. With the additions of the two 6-11 big men, the size and strength of the front court has been dramatically upgraded from last season, when 6-9 Lou Amundson was pressed into service as Hibbert's backup.
Amundson and fellow Pacers free agents Leandro Barbosa, A.J. Price and Kyrylo Fesenko are not expected to return.