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Pacers might have enough to disrupt LeBron, Heat wave


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The annual July facelift for NBA rosters is in full-swing even though the Indiana Pacers’ recent transactions more resemble a bunt.

Gone to Toronto is sixth man Tyler Hansbrough, while backup guard D.J. Augustin, too, has likely played his final game in blue and gold. Coming here are a pair of well-traveleds in 6-foot-8 forward Chris Copeland and 6-2 guard C.J. Watson.

Subtle maneuvering, yes. But all with a specific purpose.

Below-the-radar moves like these tend not to be presented in bold type or ignite a noticeable spike in season-ticket sales. Now ask yourself: Did a franchise one victory removed from the NBA Finals need an overhaul?

 

No. It would have been a publicity grab at best and a nightmarish interruption of team chemistry at worst.

Perhaps it’s just me, but Larry Bird doesn’t strike me as a pub-grab kind of guy.

Signing veteran power forward David West to a new three-year deal puts Indiana in position to again contend for an Eastern Conference title in 2013-14. Hopefully, Copeland-Watson is a step up from Hansbrough-   Augustin, the latter an inconsistent entity off the bench this past season.

It’s no secret the Pacers’ second five had to improve. With swingman Danny Granger expected to return and Lance Stephenson likely switching back to his sixth-man role, has the potential to be one of the NBA’s elite units one season removed from being among its most erratic.

This is a franchise that prides itself on process. Making a blueprint and sticking with it until the ultimate is achieved. Small steps as long as those steps are toward the Larry O’Brien Trophy and not away from it. And the Miami Heat, with superstar LeBron James, seem to have a firm grip on that piece of hardware after winning their second straight title.

With the way first-round draft pick Solomon Hill is playing in the Orlando Pro Summer League, Indiana might have enough to loosen that grip.

Media outlets in other states didn’t hastily order reporters to Indianapolis when the Pacers announced they were keeping West and acquiring two solid bench players.

I get it. Not national news. But whether they believe it or not, a team that was already pretty darned good just got better.

Indians’ summer

The Indianapolis Indians took the field Sunday against Columbus 24 games over .500. Their parent club in Pittsburgh looked down on mediocrity by 20 games.

Don’t think there isn’t a connection.

Suddenly, it’s cool being a Pirates fan again. For the first time since surly Bobby Bonilla wore a gold “P” on his cap and Barry Bonds wasn’t hitting homers that ricocheted off Jupiter, Pitt is it.

Indianapolis, the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate since 2005, is caught up in the momentum.

The incentive to be called up to the majors has always been tremendous for a ball player; the opportunity to suit up for an exciting young team rather than a perennial doormat makes the carrot being dangled that much more enticing.

It will be interesting to watch who Pittsburgh calls up the second half of the regular season and which players remain in Indy. Especially if the Pirates continue to contend in the National League Central division.

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. Contact him at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.

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