Where Are the 2015-16 Indiana Pacers in 2020?

As the 2010s draw to a close, it is perhaps instructive to think about just how much can change in four short years, as in the four years since Pace and Space first launched on our old webhost (which sadly lost the Year 1 archive in a server wipe, one reason this has been on the current WordPress server since 2017), my favorite team has gone through so much roster upheaval that only one player from that debut season’s team—Myles Turner, who was a rookie—is still in the blue and gold.

Some Pacers left under poor circumstances, and by “some Pacers” I mostly mean Paul George.

Others left because they flat-out stunk—looking at you, Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey, and Lavoy Allen.

And still others left because 2016 was The Year The World Went Mad and that’s why Ian Mahinmi is the third-highest-paid player on the Washington Wizards as New Year’s Day dawns in 2020.

So let’s look at everyone who was on that team in 2015-16, examine where they ended up, and remind ourselves on a constant basis that Larry Bird was a legendary player, an excellent coach…and a truly atrocious executive who steered this team toward the perpetual mediocrity they’ve suffered as a 40-something win and first-round playoff out under coach Nate McMillan since Frank Vogel got fired at the end of that 2016 season.

Coach Frank Vogel

In fact, let’s start with old Frank, because after a stint in Orlando where he had to deal with another dreadful front office (Rob Hennigan belongs in the Hall of Shame of NBA executives this decade) and lost a bunch of games as a result, he’s now coaching the Lakers.

The 26-7, first place in the Western Conference, “they have LeBron James and Anthony Davis” Lakers.

It only goes downhill from here, folks.

Lavoy Allen

Allen played one more season in Indiana, starting 5 of 61 games in 2016-17, playing 14.3 minutes a night…and averaging just 2.9 points and 3.6 rebounds a game as he was there to play defense and for no other useful purpose.

The Pacers let him go after his contract was up…and he’s not been seen or heard from in the NBA since, his career over.

Chase Budinger

Budinger was waived by the Pacers on March 5, 2016. The Phoenix Suns picked him up three days later, he finished out the year, got signed by the Brooklyn Nets in the offseason, and failed to make the Opening Day roster.

He has not been seen in an NBA uniform since.

Rakeem Christmas

The fan favorite with the great name…although secular wishes around this time of year always seem to work out better, just ask Aaron Holiday and Justin Holiday.

Christmas played one game in 2015-16, kicked around the G-League for most of his rookie contract, played 29 games the following year with the big club, then got waived after the 2016-17 season, picking up $2.2 million for his trouble over the two seasons and finding himself out of basketball after failing to catch on.

Interestingly, the Pacers acquired him from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who got him from Minnesota on draft night in 2015. The 2019 second-rounder Indiana traded became Eric Paschall, who has been one of the few bright spots on an awful Golden State Warriors team this year.

Monta Ellis

Can we call him the Bobby Bonilla of the NBA? Because after the Pacers finally got rid of him using the stretch provision after the 2017 season, he remains on their cap at a salary figure of $2.245 million per year…through 2021-22.

Great signing, Larry. 4 years, $44 million in 2015 for a guy who stunk out the joint for two years and became the Ghost of Crapmas Past for five years after that.

No wonder Paul George left. He’s not the one you should boo.

Paul George

Y’know what? I’m not among that faction of Pacers fans who thinks PG13 is Satan incarnate for forcing his way off the team.

After all, if this article has demonstrated anything, it’s that Indiana was a badly-run, mired-in-mediocrity franchise with any culture of winning they may have built up during those contending years in the early part of the decade shot to hell by Bird’s worthless management.

Under the circumstances, I’d go play with Still Good at the Time Russell Westbrook or Kawhi Leonard too.

Besides, we got Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for him. OKC got two straight years where they couldn’t win even 3 more games than they did when Russ put up a triple-double per game on a G-League team and dragged them to 47-35.

George has suffered enough.

George Hill

Has there ever been a guy who played for more different good teams than George Hill?

Plenty of guys have played a lot of years for one good team, guys like Bill Russell and Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant.

But Hill lives in that Robert Horry/Steve Kerr tier of guys who played a few years with a bunch of different good teams.

Hill was famously traded from San Antonio to Indiana for the draft rights to Kawhi Leonard (oops!), and after he left Indiana, he played for a 51-win Jazz team in 2017, ended up on the 2018 Cavs team that made the Finals (and got smoked by Golden State), and now plies his trade alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.

Considering he was on a two-time Eastern Conference finalist in Indiana, that’s five different 50-win squads he’s been on the roster of during his 12 seasons in the league.

It was fun having him. Still wish he’d go back to the blonde dye job.

Jordan Hill

Did you know he’s Devin Booker‘s cousin?

The Pacers ditched him after the 2016 season, freeing him up to then sign with the Timberwolves.

He scored 12 more points in seven games in his NBA career, which officially ended when he was waived after the 2017 season.

Solomon Hill

The Pacers let Solomon Hill go to the Pelicans after the 2016 season for the princely sum of $48 million.

He had exactly one more year where he was even generously able to be described as decent, as he posted 1.0 VORP in 2016-17.

Since then, the beneficiary of TYTWWM has posted negative VORP in each of the last three seasons and will almost certainly be out of the league for good once his contract mercifully expires after this season, after which he will sip mimosas with Ian Mahinmi and laugh at the folly of the 2016 offseason together.

Ty Lawson

Veni, vidi, feti.

I came, I saw, I stunk.

After a brief stint as a post-trade-deadline rental, Lawson went to Sacramento, played one more year, and then was out of the league.

Ian Mahinmi

Mahinmi has scored 786 points (5.1 per game) and grabbed 664 rebounds (4.3 per game) in 154 games played across four seasons in the nation’s capital.

For this, the Wizards have paid him $64 million.

I like Mahinmi. “Ian Can Cook And So Can You” was one of the first-ever catchphrases I made a habit out of when writing the Breakfast Special way back in dinosaur days.

I love that he got paid. I love even more that it wasn’t the Pacers who paid him.

C.J. Miles

Has there ever been a player who inspired less confidence in fans even when he played well than Miles?

To say he’s streaky as a shooter is to say that window cleaner you buy at the dollar store is streaky.

He shot 41.3 percent from 3-point range in 2016-17 and Pacers fans were still glad to be rid of him.

Since then, he’s played for three teams in three seasons and looks completely washed up in Washington, where he’s shooting just 32.3 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from three this year. His career is, for all intents and purposes, done at the age of 32.

Yes, he’s only 32; he was one of the last prep-to-pros in 2005 before the one-and-done rule kicked in.

Glenn Robinson III

Man, what an athlete—he won the dunk contest in 2017 by jumping over a mascot, a teammate (Paul George), and a terrified cheerleader convinced she was going to get teabagged (seriously, watch the footage and focus on her face. Poor girl looks like she’s having a heart attack.)

He is an above-league-average 3-point shooter (37 percent) for his career, a below-average scorer for the tanking Warriors (11.7 points per game this season in 31.9 minutes), and a guy who simply can’t seem to stay healthy (just 252 games played despite having been in the league since 2014.)

Every fan who watches him play wants to see that star potential, but it seems he is fated never to find his place as anything other than a dollar-store Klay Thompson on an atrocious team.

Rodney Stuckey

Ewwwwww…another one of those Bird signings that is evidence in the prosecution’s case against Bird’s legacy as a front office guy.

He was never all that good in Detroit and dropped off a cliff in Indiana before he was finally out of the league at the end of his contract following the 2017 season.

Fans hated the guy in Indiana, with never a kind word said on Twitter in the man’s defense.

Once again: No wonder Paul George left.

Shayne Whittington

This is the guy only true Pacers diehards who have followed the team since 2015 can even name.

27 games in the league across two seasons, gone after 2016, never to be seen or heard from again.

Joe Young

And finally, the Allen Iverson of the Chinese Basketball League.

Never caught on in the NBA, couldn’t shoot to save his life against NBA defenses…

…but he absolutely lights it up in the Far East.

Enter the dragon, Joe. We all wanted you to succeed here in the States, but the gods had a different path in mind for you. Always glad to see those highlights.

Man, remember that team? Joyless to watch, and the sequel in 2017 destroyed our souls.

But hey, breaking that team up made room for guys like Oladipo, Sabonis, and Malcolm Brogdon. It seems a fitting reminder not to hold on needlessly to the past when the future is bright.

Happy New Decade, everyone. Stay tuned in 2020 and thanks for reading!