The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Sports

June 29, 2011

Rick Teverbaugh: Hill is a good fit for Pacers

If you’re a fan of the Indiana Pacers — and why wouldn’t you be? — how can you not like newest member George Hill?

Since he was acquired in a trade on draft day last week, he has been picture and audio perfect in what he has said and done as a Pacer.

He is Hoosier through and through. He grew up here and played at Broad Ripple High School. Then he played college ball at IUPUI. Moving from that size college to the NBA isn’t an easy transition, but he accomplished it and carved out substantial playing time with one of the NBA’s elite teams — the San Antonio Spurs.

Some have expressed dismay that Indiana traded away a strong defensive presence in draft pick Kawhi Leonard in order to get Hill. I am not one of those. I have seen the Pacers spin their wheels too long waiting for unrealized potential from a young player. Anyone recall Jonathan Bender?

It is far more exciting at this time when the Pacers are on the upswing that they can add a proven NBA quality player to the mix without moving away from the youth movement that has been going on now for several seasons.

Hill, now 25 years old, can play both guard positions. It is my hope that he will be a shooting guard, even though he is a bit small at 6-foot-2.

The combo of Darren Collison and Hill is a formidable one at guard.

Of course, I am looking at the team as it stands right now. Once there is a new collective bargaining agreement in place and teams can actually go on the free agent market, the roster could change and so could my opinion about where Hill will fit best.

The Pacers could potentially lose T.J. Ford, Jeff Foster, Mike Dunleavy, Josh McRoberts and Solomon Jones to free agency. Of that group, I don’t think any one of them is vital to the team going forward. It would be sad to see Foster depart after his years of hard work on bad to mediocre teams just when the team turns the corner.

What is harder is to determine where Indiana might go to fill needs on the free agent market. The names that keep coming up are David West and Carl Landry. Both last played in Charlotte. Both are power forwards. Both are unrestricted free agents.

West is the most accomplished of the two, but he has a couple of downsides. He is 30 years old, and he is coming off an ACL injury. He is 6-9 and 240 pounds and averaged 19 points and 7.6 boards. Landry is a Purdue product. Landry is nearly identical in size with 12 points and 4.6 rebounds as averages. But he is three years younger than West and seems healthy.

Once the new NBA contract is in place, Indiana will be an interesting team to watch. It has about $35 million in cap room. What the team does now could chart its course for years to come.

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