After taking a 2-1 lead and eventually losing to the Heat in last season's Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Pacers made Miami sweat a little more in this year's Eastern Finals, forcing a Game Seven last night. The Heat won the game comfortably, but the Pacers still impressed in the series, and look like they'll be a perennial force in the East for the foreseeable future. With Indiana's 2012/13 season now in the books, here are a few of the morning's Pacers-related stories:
- We've been hearing for months that David West would like to re-sign with the Pacers this offseason, and he strongly reiterated that point last night, speaking to the media. "These are my guys, I can't see myself going anywhere else," West said, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com. "We're the second best team in the Eastern Conference, one of the top four teams in the league this year. This group is a solid group. It gives me as an individual the best chance to accomplish the goals I have left [and] that's competing at this stage every single year from here on out."
- Mannix speculates that the Pacers could shop Danny Granger and his expiring $14MM+ contract to create more room to re-sign West, noting that teams looking for a short-term wing solution and future flexibility would have interest in Granger, assuming he's healthy.
- Sean Deveney of the Sporting News also addresses West's free agency, writing that teams like the Clippers and Hawks figure to pursue the veteran forward this summer.
- Paul George has one more year remaining on his rookie contract, meaning he'll be extension-eligible this offseason. Asked by Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida if he sees himself as a maximum-salary player, he replied, "I would hope. Max guys get the job done at this time (the playoffs)."
- In his NBA AM piece for HoopsWorld, Steve Kyler examines some offseason decisions facing the Pacers, including West's free agency, a possible extension for George, and the potential departure of assistant Brian Shaw. Kyler also notes that Granger's knee issues may scare off potential trade partners, meaning there's a very real chance the forward is still a Pacer in the fall.