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Pacers want West back, look to add shooter

– The Indiana Pacers took Miami to seven games in Eastern Conference finals, with missed shots and big Heat runs finally doing them in.

Pacers president Donnie Walsh and general manager Kevin Pritchard know they need to make some moves so that doesn’t happen again.

“You look at it and you say, ‘If we could have made a few more shots, if we could have had a few more players get into the paint,’ ” Pritchard said. “So I think those are areas that we’ll look at.”

It isn’t just shooting. Pritchard pointed out the Pacers’ identity is defense and collecting strong defensive players is just as vital after the best season for the franchise since 2004-04.

“I think that we could get better shooting, as every team in the league could get,” Walsh said Thursday at a news conference to discuss the offseason. “We could get a defensive player or two at different positions and play makers. So we’re looking at those elements more than particular players.”

Bringing back unrestricted free agent David West is Indiana’s top priority when free agency begins July 1. And why not? Averaging 17.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, he became the guy Indiana turned to to help close out games. He came through in a big way much of the season.

“We want David back,” Walsh said. “We think he’s one of the anchors of our team. He’s a terrific player, and we want him back as much as you could want anyone back.”

Under coach Frank Vogel, the team has improved, reaching the conference semifinals last season and taking another step this year.

Still, Pritchard said proof that Indiana is moving forward could persuade West into resigning with the team.

Last summer, Indiana gave big contracts to Roy Hibbert and George Hill. They will likely seek to re-sign Paul George and Lance Stephenson, who are set to become restricted free agents in 2014.

The Pacers must also decide what to do with Danny Granger, who played in only five games because of an injured left knee.

Walsh also said the door is still open for former team president Larry Bird, who left after the 2012 season because of health reasons. Walsh came out of retirement to run the team and always told Bird he had the option to return.

“It remains what I’ve said since I got here and every other day since,” Walsh said. “I’d love to see him come back.”

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