The Athletic: Kemba Walker’s ‘first priority’ is Charlotte

One rumored free agent target for the Indiana Pacers in Kemba Walker seems intent on staying with the team that drafted him if they can reach an agreement. Kemba Walker talked about his upcoming free agency with The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and his first choice would appear to be remaining with the Charlotte Hornets.

“Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority,” Walker told Weiss. “That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. … People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.”

The Hornets have a major advantage if they choose to use it with the supermax contract that Walker, who averaged over 25 points per game this season, qualified for by making the All-NBA third team. The Hornets were already the only team that could offer Walker a 5-year deal but now the value of the deal could be up to $221.3 million. Every other team can only offer a maximum of four years and $140.6 million, which the Pacers could create the necessary cap space for if they so desired. Continue reading The Athletic: Kemba Walker’s ‘first priority’ is Charlotte

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Myles Turner calls All-Defense snub ‘blatant disrespect’

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner was not selected to either of the NBA’s All-Defensive teams that were announced today.

At the center position, Rudy Gobert was selected for the first team and Joel Embiid was selected for the second team. Turner, the league’s leading shot blocker, received just one vote for first team and 37 for second team.

Turner was unhappy with the results calling it “blatant disrespect” on Twitter.

Kevin Pritchard replied to his center’s tweet with, “We know Myles!”

Thad Young, who received a pair of votes for second team, came to Turner’s defense.

Turner improved his defensive acumen from previous seasons with better footwork and being in position to block or challenge shots at the rim more often. His 2.7 blocks per game and 8.4 block percentage led the entire league.

Turner responded to not being one of the final nominees for Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week with a blue cap emoji 🧢 and did the same with the news today with two of them.

It looks like Turner will have plenty of extra motivation for his workouts this summer.

Tyreke Evans ‘dismissed and disqualified’ from NBA

Indiana Pacers free agent Tyreke Evans has been “dismissed and disqualified” from the NBA for violating the league’s and the NBPA’s anti-drug policy.

Under the program, Evans can apply for reinstatement into the league after two years. This could be the end of his career after a difficult season as he approaches 30 years old.

The NBA and the Pacers are not allowed to disclose any details other than announcing the dismissal of Evans.

Evans missed a few games over the course of the season for “personal reasons” that were never elaborated on as he had a year that failed to live up to expectations with the Pacers.

The Pacers offered their support to Evans in a statement the team released. Hopefully Evans is able to seek the help he needs.

Draft Prospects: Tyler Herro

With the NBA Draft coming soon, the Indiana Pacers have a multitude of options to consider with their first-round selection. One of those targets should be Tyler Herro.

With seven in-house free agents, the Pacers could draft a new point guard, a sharp shooting wing, or a stretch four. Just about every position other than center would appear to be on the table.

The Pacers won a coin flip to pick 18th instead of 19th or 20th. It’s the second time in the last three years that they’ve had that selection, taking T.J. Leaf in 2017. Pritchard was happy to end up at 18 in the season-ending press conference.

“This year I feel good that we’re going to get a good prospect,” Pritchard said.

What Herro would bring to the Pacers:

Herro gets buckets. The biggest thing he would bring is his ability to put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways. He shot 46% from the field overall, 93% from the free-throw line and made 35% of his 3-point attempts. Continue reading Draft Prospects: Tyler Herro

Plenty of positives for Pacers in NBA Draft Lottery

The Indiana Pacers weren’t a part of the NBA Draft lottery but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a rooting interest. The results went about as well as it possibly could have for the team.

There were many winners in the lotto on Wednesday. The New Orleans Pelicans being the literal winners with the Zion Williamson sweepstakes. The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers both jumped up into the top-4 selections. There were also some losers. The team with the least amount of wins last season in the Knicks will pick 3rd. The Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers had the second-worst records in the NBA this season but will be picking 5th and 6th. The Chicago Bulls dropped all the way to 7th.

For a team that did not participate in all the festivities, the Pacers, whose first-round pick was already settled at 18th after they won tiebreaker with two other teams, “won” as much as they could possibly hope for in an event in which they weren’t actually involved.

First, Williamson, the consensus number one pick, will be going to a Western Conference team. The Pelicans seem to be the most fortunate with the timing of their lottery wins as they get a new franchise player as Anthony Davis wants to leave.

The Bulls and the Cavaliers both slipping down saw two of the Pacers Central divisional foes to lose their shot at Zion. Dropping much lower than expected limits their options even further. Chicago’s John Paxson listed things in the Bulls favor that sounds a lot like the Pacers list. Not a good night for the Bulls.

With the second pick going to the Grizzlies, this could push more speculation into one particular player that could be targeted this offseason. Indiana is faced with quite a predicament with their roster with so many free agents. After last night, maybe one of their question marks has been answered. A Mike Conley trade could be more likely to happen. Ja Morant from Murray State is already being reported as the likely pick for the Grizzlies and they may want to hand the keys to the offense to the rookie right away to let him grow with as much experience as possible. It’s no secret Memphis has been open to dealing Conley recently.

Conley, who will be 32 years old next season, is under contract for the next two years at a hefty price of $67 million combined but is coming off of one the best performances in his career. Conley, who averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game, grew up in Indiana and the Pacers sure do love their natives. His ability to score with the ball in his hands and run the offense would improve the Pacers tremendously. With Indiana not the most attractive destination in free agency, trading for someone like Conley could be their best bet to make a bold move this offseason.

A trade wouldn’t be without its risks since Memphis isn’t just giving him away. Could something like the 18th pick, Domantas Sabonis or Aaron Holiday, and salary filler be enough for them to bite? It’s unclear but the Pacers should look into how interested the Grizzlies would be in a potential deal. There were rumors that the Pacers made an offer at the deadline but talks didn’t get far.

The trade that cost the Pacers their chance at Michael Jordan

In the dark ages of the Indiana Pacers early NBA history of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the team struggled and made many poor decisions at least partially due to financial instability. Perhaps none worse than one trade that involved a future draft pick.

(30 for 30 voice) What if I told you that after the Indiana Pacers traded away their chance at drafting the player many consider to be the greatest of all time in Michael Jordan?

In 1981, Head Coach Jack McKinney led the Pacers to its first winning season (44-38) in the NBA and their first trip to the playoffs on his way to being named Coach of the Year. But the team’s success was soon cut down when starting center James Edwards was lost in free agency to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In order to keep pushing for the postseason, McKinney traded a first-round pick in the 1984 draft for Tom Owens, a journeyman center on the tail end of his career, to fill the void that Edwards left. Owens only played one season for the Pacers averaging 10.5 points per game and the team missed the playoffs with a 35-47 record.

Indiana then traded Mr. Owens to the Detroit Pistons for a second-round pick in the 1984 draft and won a combined 46 games over the next two seasons.

The Pacers finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference in the 1983-84 season and McKinney was fired. That draft pick they traded away for a short-term fix ended up being the second overall selection.

The 1984 NBA Draft is widely considered one of the best ever and ended up having five Hall of Famers. Hakeem Olajuwon went first overall to the Houston Rockets. The Portland Trail Blazers infamously took Sam Bowie and Michael Jordan fell to third with the Chicago Bulls. 

Maybe the Pacers would have made the same mistake the Blazers did and that’s the decision that would haunt them the most from the 1980s instead of the Owens trade. Or maybe Jordan would have led Indiana to multiple NBA titles like he did with Chicago. We’ll never know.

Donnie Walsh took over the Pacers personnel decisions in 1986 and steadily built the consistently competitive, respectable franchise that came closer than anyone to beating the Jordan Bulls during their dynasty as they took them to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1998. 

Jon Wertheim of SI.com once said the Pacers were trying to break the “curse of Tom Owens,” similar to the Red Sox curse of trading away Babe Ruth. With all their bad luck since he said that in the early 2000s, it rings a little more true: Malice at the Palace, the GQ Photo with the struggle of 2013-14, Paul George’s broken leg, and Victor Oladipo’s injury.

Victor Oladipo: “I’m going to be the best in the league.”

Indiana Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo continues to progress in his rehab and appears as confident as ever in the first episode of The VO Show.

“I’m going to be the best in the league,” Oladipo emphatically tells the camera after some shooting drills. “Watch what I’m saying. I’m not playing no games, man.”

He then points to his leg and calls it “a blessing” as he walks out the door.

During the training session, he works on hand-eye coordination while dribbling in a seated position and while he’s walking gingerly still, he is jumping slightly on his shots. Continue reading Victor Oladipo: “I’m going to be the best in the league.”

The struggle is real for the Pacers offense

Down 0-2 in a series that many gave them no chance to win before it even began, the Indiana Pacers are on life support.

The offense has died for entire quarters in each of the first two games. The Pacers pair of young big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis have been non-existent on offense. Late-game execution has been a nightmare. And yet despite these and other issues, Indiana comes home feeling like they’ve beat themselves against the Boston Celtics, who have been considered a contender in the East all season.

“We can’t have these mental lapses,” said Sabonis after the second game. “It’s all execution. For us, it feels like we lost both games.”

Pacers coach Nate McMillan called the last minute “the worst basketball I’ve seen in a long, long time.Continue reading The struggle is real for the Pacers offense

Visiting with Oladipo just what the doctor ordered for the Pacers

After Victor Oladipo suffered his season-ending knee injury, the Indiana Pacers looked doomed to a downward spiral as they immediately lost their next four games.

They were in the middle of a 4-game road trip and had lost to their third non-playoff opponent in just six days, but then the schedule gave the Pacers a blessing. They would have an off day in Miami where Oladipo was staying after having surgery on his ruptured quad tendon.

Typically, the patient is the one who needs the visitors to uplift them after a major operation like Oladipo’s but for the Pacers visiting with their All Star was just what they needed.

“It was good to see him, physically,” Myles Turner told the Indy Star. “He was in good spirits. I didn’t expect anything less.”

Doug McDermott agreed and told the Star, “He’s always got energy. He’s always upbeat. He gave us words to hold on to. Vic is still our vocal leader even when he’s not in the locker room. We still talk to him. He texts us. It was good just to hear his voice and be around him.” Continue reading Visiting with Oladipo just what the doctor ordered for the Pacers

Edmond Sumner gets a new contract from Pacers

The Indiana Pacers have added Edmond Sumner to their NBA roster with a 2-year deal with a team option on the second year according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Stuck with it through the ups and the downs. And left it up to God. It’s a blessing man. Journey has been crazy but it’s not over,” Sumner wrote on Instagram.

Sumner was previously on a 2-way contract which limits the amount of time that he can spend with the Pacers to 45 days. His 45 days were likely up and the Pacers signed him to the 2-year deal in lieu of converting the contract for just the rest of this season.

Sumner has shown flashes of potential throughout the season, highlighted by his 17-point game against the Lakers earlier this week. He was sensational for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, averaging 23.9 points per game on 50% shooting overall and 40% from 3-point range. And he plays well on the other end too.

The contract gives the Pacers flexibility with their prospect. They can decline the team option this season but then offer him a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent or if they exercise his team option, he’ll be a restricted free agent the next season. If the Pacers want to keep him around, it should be easy to do so for the foreseeable future.

This puts the team at 15 guaranteed contracts after the addition of Wes Matthews which means the Pacers will likely not be adding anyone else to the team during the season.

Wesley Matthews has ‘Pacers spirit’

The Indiana Pacers didn’t make any league altering trades at the deadline but don’t overlook the coming addition of Wesley Matthews.

Matthews, who was traded to the New York Knicks earlier this week, agreed to a buyout and plans to sign with the Pacers for the veteran minimum once he clears waivers according to multiple media reports.

As with any midseason addition to a group with great chemistry, it’s always important to consider how someone will fit in the locker room. Matthews seems like an ideal culture fit that goes with the organization’s mantra of the 3Ts: toughness, togetherness and trust.

“Perfect pickup for us,” Thad Young told reporters after Thursday’s game. “… Most of all he brings toughness, a defensive mentality we need. He embodies what we do as a team. He has that Pacers spirit in him already.” Continue reading Wesley Matthews has ‘Pacers spirit’

Reports: Pacers to sign Wesley Matthews

The Indiana Pacers will sign Wesley Matthews after he agreed to a buyout from the New York Knicks according to multiple media reports.

Continue reading Reports: Pacers to sign Wesley Matthews

Trade deadline: Pacers acquire second-round pick in trade with Rockets

The Indiana Pacers did the Houston Rockets a favor by taking on Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin in a trade. For their troubles, the Pacers will get a second-round pick from the Rockets in the deadline deal reported by ESPN.

The Pacers will waive both of these players, having no intention of keeping them on the roster. The Rockets motivation is getting below the luxury-tax threshold in the trade.

To make the trade legal, the Pacers do have to send something to the Rockets but it will likely just be a top-55 protected second-round pick that will never actually convey to Houston. Continue reading Trade deadline: Pacers acquire second-round pick in trade with Rockets

Rumors: Pacers made an offer for Mike Conley

The trade deadline is quickly approaching and the Indiana Pacers are showing up in Mike Conley rumors.

Sam Amick and Tony Jones of The Athletic both reported that the Pacers have been in contact with the Memphis Grizzlies about Conley.

Jones reported that Pacers offered one young player and one veteran but the Memphis counter off was far too high. It seems the trade demands for Memphis make this deal unlikely to happen. Continue reading Rumors: Pacers made an offer for Mike Conley

Pacers need to find more opportunities for Myles Turner

Myles Turner has shown some things on the offensive end of the floor over these last two games that he hasn’t in the first three years of his career. The Indiana Pacers just lost their superstar and they need someone to step up.

Turner looks like he can help fill some of that Oladipo-sized void on offense. Now he just needs the ball with some consistency.

In the first half against the Grizzlies, Turner only had three shot attempts. After playing well in the third quarter with 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting and doing his DPOY-candidate thing on the defensive end, he didn’t come back into the game until four minutes were left in the fourth quarter and didn’t attempt another shot until less than one minute was left. This kind of thing just shouldn’t happen as often as it does with a player like Turner.

The lack of consistency in touches for Turner has long been an issue for the Pacers. While his stats may say that his development has been stagnant during his career, it feels more true that it’s his role that hasn’t evolved along with him. Especially when you see him make some of the moves he’s made recently.

Turner waves off Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic to take that last possession ISO of the half and makes a gorgeous hesitation move to blow by the defender and get the dunk. How many centers are making that move? Earlier in the half, he beat Kevin Durant in a one-on-one situation with a pump fake and nailed the shot. You have to find more ways to get a guy like this frequent touches with chances to score.

With no Oladipo, there’s no reason for him to not be involved more often than he currently is. His usage percentage has dropped from 22% in December to 16% in January before the game against the Warriors. He’s taking three less shot attempts per game than he did in the previous month. That trend can’t continue.

Turner, to his credit, is starting to take things into his own hands at times. He’s been aggressive with driving the ball from the perimeter way more in the last two games than he ever has been, especially when it’s been awhile since he’s taken a shot. This was his first shot attempt since four minutes were left in the first quarter against Memphis.

Maybe this is what he needed to do all along, but it’s hard to put the lack of purposeful involvement on Turner, when he was once told he needed to “distribute more” after having the best month of his young career in January 2017 when he averaged 17.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

The purpose of that from Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan at the time was to encourage Turner to make the extra pass, instead of shooting it at every opportunity. While Turner has made many strides as a passer since then, it feels like the pendulum never swung back to Turner being a centerpiece for the Pacers offense. All of these passes in last two games are plays that he likely doesn’t make during his rookie season.

Two of these passes come after he starts to try and create for himself. Giving him the freedom to create more often may allow him to be a better playmaker for others at times as well.

Turner’s starting to make moves off the dribble that are insane for a big man. The amount of space this crossover creates should have McMillan drooling over his young stud. His defender almost falls over on this play!

Ben Pfeifer of 8 points, 9 seconds has making Myles Turner a focal point of the offense as one of his three keys to figuring out the offense without Oladipo.

Let. Myles. Do. More.

It’s always felt like he has a shorter leash than others when it comes to shot selection though this seems to be getting better.

The Pacers are starting to embrace his 3-point shot more and more of late which is good to see. Turner took seven from distance against the Grizzlies and finished by making his last three attempts after missing his first four. The fact that he kept shooting them despite the slow start is huge.

After starting the year off slowly as a 3-point shooter making just seven of his first 31 attempts, he’s made 30 of 63 long-range shots since December (47.6%).

Turner was one of few bright spots in the blowout loss to the Warriors. He was one of only a few players that looked like they belonged on the floor competing against the defending champs. The Pacers have to find more ways to get him opportunities on the offensive end.

Where do the Pacers go from here?

The Indiana Pacers lost Victor Oladipo to a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter of Wednesday’s game. He suffered a ruptured quad tendon that could put him out anywhere from six to twelve months.

There are no adequate words to describe the numbness that comes in the moments and hours directly after witnessing an injury that devastating. Shock, disbelief, clinging to some tiny hope that it isn’t as bad as it seems.

There was no joy in watching the Pacers continue to play after Oladipo was taken out on a stretcher. No anxiety as the game was close in the final minute. None of that mattered much. The Pacers had already lost more than this one game could possibly make up for. Continue reading Where do the Pacers go from here?

Victor Oladipo suffers knee injury, leaves on stretcher

Indiana Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo suffered a devastating knee injury and left on a stretcher during the second quarter in Wednesday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors.

Oladipo was hustling back on defense when suddenly his knee seemed to give out as he was getting close to challenging the play. You can hear Oladipo scream in pain when the play happens.

Pacers trainer quickly covered Oladipo’s knee with a towel after a quick look and called for a stretcher.

The Pacers came out in this game with a mission to show they can compete with the top teams in the East especially after struggling in their first two games against the Raptors. They had played well and with some of their best defense of the season to start but now their focus switches to how long their superstar Oladipo will be out.

The Indiana Pacers have announced that it is a serious right knee injury and that Oladipo will have an MRI tomorrow. No other updates will come tonight from the team officially. Prayers up to the heart and soul of the Pacers.

ESPN reports that Pacers fear a season-ending injury that will require surgery.

Darren Collison is quietly returning to form

The Indiana Pacers dominated the Detroit Pistons in every way imaginable last night as they won by 37 points. One of the many highlights of the night was Darren Collison’s perfect shooting performance as he made all seven of his shot attempts for 19 points.

These shot attempts weren’t wide open attempts. Collison made some impressive shots while also dishing out seven assists with only one turnover.

The fact that he only took his first shot with four minutes left makes his perfect shooting night even more impressive especially with a taller player directly in front of him and the shot clock winding down.

After his first dunk of the season that made the entire bench lose its collective mind and following it up with a step-back 3-pointer, Myles Turner decided to capture the Collison moment in all its glory by pretending to take a picture with his hands. Continue reading Darren Collison is quietly returning to form

A Brief Pacers History: The Curse of December 18th

The Indiana Pacers played what may end up being their worst game of the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers last night.

The game was marred by a lack of energy throughout and crucial miscues in the final minute including three consecutive missed free throws by Victor Oladipo and a blatant foul that went uncalled as Larry Nance Jr. tossed Oladipo to the ground before tipping in the game winner at the buzzer as the Pacers lost 92-91. Just like that the hottest team in the league lost to one destined for the lottery.

Every good team has a game or two like this during the course of the season, but what if I told you this one may have been predetermined by cosmic forces beyond their control?

This isn’t the first time a frustrating, painful loss occurred recently on December 18th for Indiana. It’s starting to look like they’re cursed on this seemingly random day in the final month of the calendar year.

Reddit user ArchBishopBanana first called attention to the date by pointing out that the Pacers are just 1-5 on the 18th of December in the last 10 years. And there are some of those worst, most painful regular-season losses of the last decade among the five that have happened on that date.

Just last season, December 18th was a night that everyone would love to forget when Bojan Bogdanovic inexplicably threw away the game against the Boston Celtics as the Pacers lost 112-111.

Which of the following sounds more likely? A career 85.8% free-throw shooter refusing to take the foul with his team ahead in the final seconds and instead throw up a hot-air balloon of a pass near the half-court line or the Pacers are simply dealing with some dark magic on this otherwise inconsequential day in their history?

I’d ask if anyone was denied entrance to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse with a goat or some other barnyard animal on December 18th in the past, but the struggles on this date have been on the road as well.

In 2013 during the peak of the Pacers and Heat rivalry, Indiana lost a close game in Miami after leading by 15 points midway through the third quarter as the Heat went on a 10-0 run late. This one featured another memorable missed call as Paul George went up for a potential tying 3-pointer with LeBron James’s hand on his hip with a subtle push. He was visibly upset by the no call after his shot was way off and the buzzer sounded. The Pacers lost 97-94.

With these three excruciating losses all happening on the same day in recent seasons, it’s safe to say no Pacers fan would mind if they never played on 12/18 ever again.

Pacers Myles Turner gives the Philly crowd the finger

After picking up his third foul during the second quarter while guarding Joel Embiid, Myles Turner gave the middle finger to the Philadelphia crowd.

Ponytail Myles has no chill. He’ll be getting a fine for that one tomorrow morning.

Hopefully the Indiana Pacers can find a way to make the Sixers be the ones who are getting frustrated as Embiid has forced both Turner and Sabonis into foul trouble while dominating with 28 points and 14 rebounds in the first half alone.

Update: Pacers dominated the second half (64-42) to beat the Sixers and Myles Turner apologizes on Twitter after the game

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