Photo Credit: Crossroads Sports
With reports are coming out that the Brooklyn Nets are likely to sign Kyrie Irving and let all-star point guard D’Angelo Russell leave in free agency, the Indiana Pacers emerging as the #1 option for him. On paper, pairing Russell and fellow all-star guard Victor Oladipo with other young players like Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis sounds like a good idea, but I don’t see it panning out because of their ball-dominance and the financial implications of signing a player of Russell’s caliber.
D’Angelo Russell and Victor Oladipo are both ball dominant players who are at their best when they have the ball in their hands and create offense for themselves or their teammates. Both players are good at driving to the basket and finishing tough shots around the rim or kicking the ball back out to teammates for open shots from the perimeter. While more of the same style that helped the Pacers be one of the most surprising teams in the NBA with a healthy Victor Oladipo may sound good, I believe it would create a log jam on offense. Though having multiple ball dominant players has worked before (see 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers with Lebron James and Kyrie Irving) it is more often than not unsuccessful.
Just as important as the on-floor results of adding Russell to the Pacers’ roster is the financial impact he would have on the team. As a 23-year-old all-star looking for a big contract, the Pacers are going to have to pay a pretty penny to get his talents to the Circle City. With that said, adding a massive contract, probably north of $25 million dollars, will hamstring the small market Pacers from adding additional pieces to the roster. The possible departure of free agents Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic would create huge holes in the core of the Pacers team and the ability to bring one or both of them back would be greatly hindered by the addition of D’Angelo Russell.
As much as I want the Pacers to make a splash this free agency period, D’Angelo Russell isn’t the right player to make that splash. Though I trust the Pacers front office, I just hope they make a decision that puts the Indiana Pacers in a position to go further in the NBA playoffs than we have gone in years.