Aug 172010

August 17 yahoo sports

Rare is the time that I bust out for its use in trade machinations. There are 3,700 other ways to use it, but I’m not big on grabbing the calculator and making up hypothetical deals. And yet, with the Indiana Pacers sporting a gaping hole at power forward and the Philadelphia 76ers in the midst of what could be a complete reshaping, I think it’s time for these two teams to start talking.

For a while, Indiana’s plan has been to chomp down on the summer of 2011 with a heaping of cap space. As it stands right now, the team will have about $26.5 million in payroll responsibility to work beyond next summer. Even counting cap holds and what could be another lottery pick, this usually would still be about half a cap to try and rebuild with. Not bad at all.

The problem there is that we have no idea what the cap will look like once the NBA and its players hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement. I still have a feeling all the talk about a hard cap — or the rumors about the NBA somehow finding a way to make most of these would-be grandfathered contracts null and void — a bit nutty. At the heart of this, David Stern knows it’s his talk-themselves-into-anything owners who are his problem, along with the GMs that want to keep a job and go penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Even with that in place, there still is the worry that $26.5 million in payroll and the cap space on top of it could be nothing short of Monopoly money next summer. So I wouldn’t mind if the Pacers acted now.

Especially with the changing of the guard in Philadelphia taking place.

Doug Collins is in as coach, and he’s long wielded a strong personnel influence from the bench since leaving Turner Sports for Detroit in 1995. Rod Thorn is in as team president, and while GM Ed Stefanski will retain his role, it’s clear he’ll have to run things by his former Nets boss.

Collins and Thorn were handed the keys to a promising group of youngsters, but also some well-off vets who may or may not be worth the money. Elton Brand, admirable though he may be, is not worth the three years and $51 million he’s owed on his contract. All the advanced stats in the world tell you that Andre Iguodala is pretty special, and we agree to a point. But we also know that poor ball-handling and iffy shot selection often mitigates those fabulous 20-9-7 lines.

So I think the Pacers should send Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford, Jeff Foster (all expiring contracts) and Paul George to Philadelphia — along with their first-round pick from next year (top three protected, losing said protection the year after) — for Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and Marreese Speights.

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