Paul George came close to getting the Indiana Pacers out of the first round, but they didn’t have enough to get past the Toronto Raptors in Game 7. Still, it was a bounce-back season to elite status for him as he led them to 45 wins after missing the postseason a year ago.
Indiana has a few free agents worth a look for the Wizards, who will go into the offseason with as many as nine spots open.
The Wizards' goals are to get younger, more explosive and identify a few two-way players in the process to improve their 21st scoring defense. Adding players indiscriminately isn't an option because of the salary cap. The big fish (meaning, big-name free agents) will get signed first. Assuming the Wizards land one, even if it's not named Kevin Durant, they'll construct the roster with the remaining money with as many as eight other spots open. More than likely they'll retain 2-4 of their own free agents which will cut that number of open slots from 5-7.
They'll need a solid backup for Marcin Gortat at center, a true scorer behind Bradley Beal and a backup point guard for John Wall.
These are Indiana’s free agents, in order of best fit:
Solomon Hill: Look at the Pacers at the end of games, and this 6-7 forward who earned just $1.4 million is on the floor because of his improving three-point shooting ability and defense. When they needed someone to slow down Beal in the second half of their last meeting with the Wizards this season, they went with Hill and it worked. He’s unrestricted and has surprising athleticism. His numbers are modest (4.2 points, 32.4% three-point shooting) which should translate into him being more affordable. The key with Hill is upside. He’s a solid rotation player at 25.
Jordan Hill: A career backup center, Hill gets his production (8.8 points, 6.2 rebounds) through hustle and can be a spot starter in a pinch. He made $4 million and is unrestricted and won’t command too high of a pricetag.
Ian Mahinmi: In his first year as a starter, the 6-11 center played well enough to get a raise above $4 million and is unrestricted. Mahinmi, 29, probably will want a chance to continue starting rather than returning to a backup role (9.3 points, 7.1 rebounds).
Ty Lawson: At one time a starting quality point guard, he’s now relegated to a backup role and is unrestricted. If he can regain his form, he’d be a steal but there’s no indication that’s going to happen soon. Lawson made $12.4 million this season and won’t come anywhere close to that in the open market. Shoots in the low 40s from the field and low 30s from three-point range, not a good enough of an upgrade behind Wall.