All posts by Derek Kramer

Editor-in-Chief of iPacers.com. Designer of T-shirts. Teacher of 5th-graders.

The Many Problems of the Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers are 9-16. The 7th-worst record in the NBA. They are on their third head coach in three seasons and out of excuses.

“We can’t be an organization or a team that accepts mediocrity,” Myles Turner said after the latest embarrassing loss for the Pacers who fell to the Miami Heat without both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. “That’s what we’ve been playing like. We got to up the ante, somehow someway … we have to find a way to fucking win.”

So what’s the problem with these Pacers?

The roster that Kevin Pritchard, Pacers president of basketball operations, put together three off-seasons ago has struggled to finish games. They have a positive point-differential this season while sitting four games outside of the last play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. The only teams behind them in the East are the rebuilding Magic and Pistons who on average get beat by nearly 10 points each game.

Me watching the Pacers this season

Somehow a team built with the hope of being greater than the sum of its parts has been less. Injuries can’t be used as an excuse for this group anymore. It’s a pipe dream for this entire roster to be healthy at the same time after the last three years. And they’ve treaded water much better than this through injuries before.

Is it the overly discussed and debated Turbonis duo? Domantas Sabonis and Turner have somehow played better together this year than ever before with a 8.8 net rating while playing over 400 minutes with each other. Pacers lineups with only one of the centers have both been outscored by opponents to this point. There are bigger issues here than the imperfect fit for the team’s two most important players.

But the fact that two centers are the most important players on the Pacers is an issue in itself. Centers may be the least valuable position in the league if you aren’t at the level of Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic. Many teams prefer to spend their cap space elsewhere and find cheaper options at the position. Trading one may help solve some of the other Pacers issues but there just aren’t many teams in the league that are desperately looking for a center and willing to part with much to get one.

That the Pacers have used two of their last three first-round selections on centers in Goga Bitadze and Isaiah Jackson–with no consistent rotation minutes available for either of them–only exacerbates this problem. The Pacers have used a lot of cap space and a lot of draft capital on centers.

You have to think that if there was another team willing to give up something decent, the Pacers would have made a deal by now. But Sabonis is their best player and a 2-time All-Star and Turner has been the entirety of the Pacers defense since their defensive guru Dan Burke left so it’s understandable why the team hasn’t been in a rush to just hand one away without getting value in return. 

If you look at the Pacers roster, there are plenty of good players. But if you really think about the positions that they best fit at, there’s a problem there as well. I would say that the Pacers currently start two centers and three shooting guards. In a league where switchable positionless wings are highly valuable, the Pacers have none that are above replacement level.

Malcolm Brogdon has flourished offensively as a point guard with the Pacers in terms of his counting stats but his best role on a winning team is probably in more of an off-the-ball role where he doesn’t need to defend at the point-of-attack on defense. His slow release also prevents him from being able to consistently take advantage of defenders that go under on all of his screens. He’s far too casual with his passes at times in late-game situations to be relied on as a lead ball handler.

Caris LeVert and Chris Duarte both also fit better as secondary or tertiary playmakers and can’t really run an offense. LeVert’s defense is not great and he’s been frustratingly bad at times offensively since returning from his back injury. Passing can seem like a last resort to him and he never seems to find a teammate when they would be in rhythm. Duarte may be the Pacers’ best on-ball perimeter defender among usual starters but he’s completely lost as a team defender. He’s the Pacers first good pick since Turner but he’s almost the same age as Turner already and it’s unclear how close he already is to his ceiling. When Justin Holiday starts, he’s a serviceable small forward but he’s also so slender that bigger wings eat him alive.

Sabonis is the team’s best player but smarter people than me have noticed his role has been de-emphasized in the offense compared to previous years. It also feels like when good teams key on taking him away by packing the paint, daring him and his teammates to make outside shots, they can’t make them pay.

Turner has been better with both rebounding and outside shooting than ever before in his career but he can’t create his own looks and he disappears on nights when the ball doesn’t move well. His poor hands and questionable feel rob him of having a more consistent impact on the offensive end as much as his role.

Clearly, there are some chemistry issues. Caris LeVert and Sabonis got into a bit of a heated argument towards the end of the Heat loss after a defensive miscommunication.

LeVert downplayed it as two super competitive guys that are frustrated with losing and they “hugged it out” right after that, but we know the locker room wasn’t great last season and it doesn’t seem like that has improved.

T.J. Warren is missed. Truly. Madly. Deeply. But hoping he comes back, is immediately the guy from the bubble and magically fixes all the team’s issues by himself is an illogical plot that would only make the cut in the final season of Game of Thrones.

Rick Carlisle certainly isn’t blameless in all of this. He has the same roster as the last two coaches but with the worst results. Say what you want about Nate Bjorkgren but it wasn’t this bad especially this early. Under Nate McMillan, you never questioned the team’s effort.

The Pacers have been unlucky this season and unofficially lead the league in Last 2-minute Report Ws. Duarte’s had two potential game-winning free throws taken away with no calls that were deemed fouls after the fact in recent games. The Pacers lead the league by a long shot in close losses. Eight times this season they have lost by four points or less. No other team has more than four such losses. You don’t outscore your opponents over 25 games and only win 9 of them without some bad luck. But as Caitlin Cooper explains here, it’s not all luck either.

It also probably doesn’t happen if you have a true star to rely on to avoid needing some of those last-minute foul calls to go their way. The Pacers haven’t been seven games below .500 since the 2014-15 season when Paul George broke his leg.

And that brings us to the core issue for this team: they don’t have a star that can put the team on their back and get a basket whenever one is necessary. Not one of their best players is a consistent scoring threat that can be counted on each and every night in the clutch. A basketball team without a star is a football team without a quarterback. It’s a television show without its show-runner. It’s the fourth season of Community. The Pacers delayed the inevitable for a long time but George leaving the franchise has finally caught up to the team.

This is the season that many expected to happen when George was sent to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Sabonis. Let’s be honest, Pritchard and the Pacers got incredibly lucky with this trade. Everyone made fun of that trade for a reason. Both of these players’ values were at all-time lows at the time, Oladipo had been solid but unspectacular for four seasons in the league and Sabonis had been dreadful in an ill-advised role as a stretch big in his rookie season shooting under 40% overall. There was very little reason to think that the Pacers would get four All-Star level seasons out of these two players at the time of the trade.

But they did and Victor Oladipo was a top-15 NBA player in that first season in Indiana and it looked like the Pacers by some miracle would be better off without George in the long run. I even made those 4+11>13 shirts at the time. But then Oladipo got hurt and also wanted to leave and here they are: 9-16 with the 7th-worst record in the league. A franchise searching for answers with a fanbase that’s losing interest at a rapid speed.

The Pacers are dead last in the league in attendance. It’s not like you can blame the fans. This is Indiana. We grow basketball here so why would anyone pay for this version of it?

If there was ever a time to blow it up, trade everyone you can for prospects and picks, it would be now. No one is coming to the games anyway. Attendance can’t get any worse. Herb Simon could save some money potentially depending on what money comes back in any deals. The only player that can’t be traded this season is Brogdon because of his extension.

The Pacers likely aren’t as bad as their record seems. But even if they manage to turn it around, what’s the ceiling here with the hole they’ve put themselves in? Losing in the play-in tournament again? Is that really something anyone is going to be excited to see?

As Myles Turner said, they can’t be an organization or a team that accepts mediocrity. They have to get rid of that “tough out” mentality. If that’s all you’re striving for, what’s the fucking point? It doesn’t have to be championship or bust. Everyone has great memories watching Pacers teams of yesteryear but I don’t think Reggie Miller’s goal was ever to almost win in the playoffs. He didn’t come into the locker room after losing game seven in the conference finals to the Bulls shouting, “Mission accomplished! We really made Michael Jordan work for that one, gentlemen!”

Frankly, they’ve been worse than mediocre so far this season and they’ve been stuck in mediocrity since the conference finals battles against the Heat. So what are they going to do about it?

After Sabonis extension, these Pacers have time to grow together

Do you like the look of the current Pacers roster? Because the majority of this team could be in Indiana for awhile after Kevin Pritchard and the front office agreed to an extension with Domantas Sabonis less than two hours before today’s deadline.

It was a bit of a surprise development after rumors that the Pacers were at least listening to offers for their young center this past week and Sabonis seemed unhappy and a little frustrated with the situation after practice on Saturday.

Bobby Marks of ESPN had reported that Myles Turner extension amount of $72 million was seen as a “non-starter” by Sabonis’s agent, so it seemed he was looking for much more than the terms that ended up being agreed upon.

Sabonis’s contract extension is for four years and $74.9 million according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, just a shade larger than Turner’s deal signed last year at about this same time. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that with bonuses the deal can reach up to $85 million. This amount won’t start until next season as he plays out the last season of his rookie contract in 2019-20.

With Sabonis under contract for the next five seasons, he joins many Pacers that are in long-term deals with the team: Continue reading After Sabonis extension, these Pacers have time to grow together

Rumors: Thoughts on the Domantas Sabonis trade talk

The Indiana Pacers have until Monday to sign Domantas Sabonis to an extension, but the two parties appear unlikely to agree to terms before that deadline according to multiple media reports.

The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that they are far apart to the point that the Pacers “have engaged in active trade talks with several teams this week.” While Amick notes that there is no lack of interest in the young center, his sources say that the Pacers asking price remains too high.

The IndyStar’s J. Michael confirmed that an extension is not imminent at the moment and said he “wouldn’t be surprised by anything as the deadline nears.”

Based on all the reporting, here is some speculation on what’s going on. I repeat this is just speculation and is only my best guess for the entire situation:

When the Pacers realized that they were probably not going to reach an agreement with Sabonis, they started to check what the trade market would be for him.

This doesn’t mean that they are necessarily looking to trade him right now (unless they got a huge offer they couldn’t pass up which would line up with their rumored “high” asking price) but perhaps it is more of a situation where the Pacers are just seeing what they could possibly get in a deal and what teams would be interested down the line if Kevin Pritchard and company decided to go that direction in the future. In other words, it’s just due diligence. Continue reading Rumors: Thoughts on the Domantas Sabonis trade talk

Pacers Summer League: The surprising, the solid, and the underwhelming performances in Las Vegas

Indiana Pacers Summer League squad will not leave Las Vegas without a victory after winning their consolation game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Alize Johnson and DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell combined for 49 points and 23 rebounds to lead the way for Indiana as many players sat out with minor injuries.

This was surprisingly the most fun game to watch over the course of the week. With Aaron Holiday, Edmond Sumner, Brian Bowen and Goga Bitadze all out, Johnson and Akoon-Purcell carried the team and provided an entertaining finish to Summer League play for Indiana.

Let’s take one last look at how the important players performed this week in Vegas:

Alize Johnson

We’ll start with the star of the final game. Johnson put on a clinic in non-stop effort for rebounds on the offensive glass and had secured a double double in the first half.

He finished the week with three double doubles and showed that effort on the glass consistently. He averaged 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds. Continue reading Pacers Summer League: The surprising, the solid, and the underwhelming performances in Las Vegas

Breaking down what T.J. Warren brings to the Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers new acquisition T.J. Warren brings a versatile scoring ability that should give his new team a boost offensively next season. In a deal that came as a surprise, Warren’s production eerily matches his predecessor in the starting lineup and he’ll have his first opportunity to play for a team that expects to win a lot of games.

“It makes me feel great,” Warren said of the Pacers making a deal for him. “I feel like every day matters here. Every day is taken seriously. I’m ready to contribute to that.”

After a five-year start to his career stuck in a perpetual rebuild in the desert with the Suns, it’s understandable why he feels that way.

For the Pacers, it was a trade offer they initially didn’t think was serious according to ESPN’s Amin Elhassan. All they gave up was cash and salary cap space and they received a capable scorer in Warren and the 32nd pick in the draft (which they flipped on draft night for three future second-round picks).

“We weren’t expecting that one,” Kevin Pritchard told Mark Montieth of Pacers.com of the Warren trade. “But when it came, we made the decision in five minutes. We knew it was the right thing.” Continue reading Breaking down what T.J. Warren brings to the Indiana Pacers

Pacers Summer League: This is getting hard to watch

Another forgettable Summer League game for the Indiana Pacers as their struggles continued with a loss to the Atlanta Hawks by a final score of 87-67. Alize Johnson led the way with his second consecutive double double with 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Pacers held out most of their NBA players with minor injuries.

This was painful to watch for much of the game. Indiana made just 4 of 29 of their 3-point shots and turned it over 15 times. The Hawks were also holding out many of their better players including DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish.

Most of the enjoyable content came from the broadcast team of Jared Greenburg and Vince Carter (other than not being able to pronounce Alize correctly), who chatted with Malcolm Brogdon for much of the third quarter and were a pleasant distraction from the mediocre product on the court. Usually the Summer League broadcasts are painful but those two managed to have fun despite having a dreadful game to call. Continue reading Pacers Summer League: This is getting hard to watch

Pacers Summer League struggles continue

Indiana Pacers had another rough game overall in the Las Vegas Summer League as they lost 102-84 to the Detroit Pistons. Aaron Holiday struggled with running the offense against an NBA-caliber defender and Goga Bitadze (visa issues) and Edmond Sumner (sore foot) missed the second game.

As always, the results of these Pacers Summer League games don’t really matter but some of the details can give us insight. Here’s positives and negatives to takeaway from the second game.

Aaron Holiday

This was not a good game for the Pacers second-year point guard. It raised concerns about his ability to run an offense at an NBA level based on his decision making. In the first half, he went 2 for 9 from the floor and had four turnovers. Bruce Brown of the Pistons made his life difficult on offense and forced him into tough shots and Holiday didn’t do himself any favors by jumping in the air with nowhere to go. Continue reading Pacers Summer League struggles continue

Takeaways from Pacers Summer League in an ugly opener

The Indiana Pacers were blown out by the Memphis Grizzlies in their first Summer League game by a final of 101-75.

For the Pacers, this game featured a lot of the bad that can come with Summer League. They looked like a team that was unfamiliar with each other. Guys hunted their own looks as ball movement was at a minimum. Sloppy turnovers occurred throughout. It was an ugly game to watch.

There were some positives to takeaway from tonight but it certainly wasn’t Game 82 from last year (which featured a few of these Summer Pacers) on repeat like you’d have hoped. No Goga Bitadze in this one and at least the next one most likely as he continues to try and get his visa issues sorted.

As always, it’s important not to over value anything that happens in Summer League, good or bad, but here’s what was observed in this one:

Aaron Holiday:

Holiday was one of few positives in this one as a scoring machine. He had 24 points and showed off his ability to create his own shot but ended the night shooting an inefficient 8 for 22. Continue reading Takeaways from Pacers Summer League in an ugly opener

Pacers title would be ‘big reliever’ to Metta World Peace

Former Indiana Pacers player Metta World Peace wrote on Twitter, “In my lifetime, I would love to see the Pacers win a title. It would be a big reliever for me.”

The player formerly known as Ron Artest may still be feeling guilty about how the Malice at the Palace likely cost the Pacers their best chance at an NBA title. It’s not hard to see why them eventually winning a championship would be a relief to him.

Indiana looked poised to finally overcome the Detroit Pistons that year and had blown them out on their home floor on that infamous November night. One hard foul, a large scuffle and a tossed cup later, World Peace and Stephen Jackson were in the stands fighting the opposing team’s fans. Jermaine O’Neal punched people that came onto the court. Chaos ensued as the team tried to make it back to the locker room. One of the darkest moments not only in Pacers history but in the NBA’s.

Continue reading Pacers title would be ‘big reliever’ to Metta World Peace

What to watch for during Pacers Summer League

Indiana Pacers start their Summer League play on Saturday in Las Vegas. It’s a chance to see the rookies Goga Bitadze (if his visa issues are worked out) and Brian Bowen II for the first time in the blue and gold and to watch for a lot of the team’s younger players (Aaron Holiday, Edmond Sumner, and Alize Johnson) in larger roles than the normally have as they try to make their case for more playing time.

The results of the games may be meaningless but you can gain some insight by what happens during them. It’s always important to never overreact to anything good or bad during Summer League. A good week in Vegas doesn’t mean a player is destined for stardom and a bad week doesn’t mean they are doomed to be a bust. It can be a positive or negative sign for the player’s career certainly but it’s not definitive proof one way or another.

These games do have real consequences. Solomon Hill is the biggest example of that for the Pacers. Hill played so poorly in his third trip to the Orlando Summer League in 2015 that it likely factored into the team’s choice to decline the team option on the fourth season of his rookie contract. It ended up working out great for Hill, who ended up with a huge payday from the Pelicans after a half season of solid shooting, but these games help inform team’s decisions and guys are playing for their NBA lives in many cases.

Schedule:

The Pacers are scheduled for four games in Las Vegas and will play a minimum of five games, depending on how they do once tournament play begins. Many of the players that are likely to be on Indiana’s roster may only play those first four games, perhaps only three.

  • Saturday, July 6: Grizzlies at 7:00 p.m. on NBATV
  • Monday, July 8: Pistons at 5:00 p.m. on ESPNU
  • Tuesday, July 9: Hawks at 5:30 p.m. on NBATV
  • Thursday, July 11: Raptors at 6:00 p.m. on NBATV

Goga Bitadze

The Pacers first-round pick hasn’t been able to practice with the rest of the Summer League squad because of visa issues, but the hope is that he’ll be able to meet the team in Las Vegas to play at least a few games.

This would be the first chance for most Pacers fans to see the rookie in game action since he played professionally in Europe. In Europe, he was dominant as a teenager. He won the Adriatic League MVP award in 2019 and won the EuroLeague Rising Star and Adriatic League Top Prospect awards as well. Continue reading What to watch for during Pacers Summer League

How Nikola Mirotic indirectly caused the Indiana Pacers free agency moves

The Indiana Pacers made some significant moves on the first night of free agency and one player that won’t even play in the NBA next season may have indirectly made it all happen: Nikola Mirotic.

The day before free agency started Mirotic, who was reportedly in the market for a deal ranging around $45 million, decided to leave for Euroleague club Barcelona in his home country. And so began the Basketball Butterfly Effect where a Spanish forward flapped his wings across the ocean and a tornado of transactions rushed through the league.

But Mirotic was never even rumored to be on the Pacers radar in free agency, so how did his decision leave the NBA affect the team? It starts with the team that was interested in him. Continue reading How Nikola Mirotic indirectly caused the Indiana Pacers free agency moves

Final touches the Pacers can make in free agency

The Indiana Pacers still have a few roster spots left to fill after their big night to start free agency. With as much as nearly $6 million in cap space and the $5 million room exception, Kevin Pritchard and the front office have enough money to find some good pieces to add depth to the team.

After the excellent additions of Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb, the team’s depth chart looks something like this:

  • Point guard: Malcolm Brogdon, Aaron Holiday
  • Shooting guard: Victor Oladipo, Jeremy Lamb, Edmond Sumner
  • Small Forward: TJ Warren, Doug McDermott, Brian Bowen (2-way contract)
  • Power Forward: Domantas Sabonis, TJ Leaf, Alize Johnson
  • Center: Myles Turner, Goga Bitadze

There’s some issues with looking at it this way that over simplifies things when multiple guys can play more than just one position. Brogdon, Holiday and Sumner can play both guard spots, Lamb, Sumner and McDermott can play the 2 or the 3, Warren can play both forward positions, and Turner, Sabonis and Bitadze are all primarily centers but could all see time at the 4 as well this year.

So what do the Pacers still need on the roster? Continue reading Final touches the Pacers can make in free agency

Indiana Pacers cash in on their flexibility with Brogdon, Lamb

The Indiana Pacers will look very different than its last iteration when the new season starts after making some major moves on the first night of free agency. Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb are arriving and Bojan Bogdanovic and Thad Young are departing.

When Kevin Pritchard took over for Larry Bird as President of Basketball Operations, he immediately set out to have a lot of flexibility in the deals that he signed and the roster he constructed after completing the trade for Victor Oladipo. Darren Collison and Bogdanovic both got two-year deals with partial guarantees for the second season to give the Pacers plenty of options. Cory Joseph was acquired with just two years on his deal.

Even while signing short-term contracts, a fantastic culture was created behind their 3T mantra of toughness, togetherness and trust as well as the sheer positivity of Victor Oladipo permeating through the entire franchise. The chemistry of the group was the best they’ve had in recent memory.

They could have tried to cash in on the flexibility to an extent last off-season by letting Darren Collison, Bogdanovic go with their small partial guarantees but Pritchard remained patient waiting for the right opportunity and kept the overachieving team together one more season while still keeping the books relatively clean for the next off-season with short deals (Tyreke Evans and Kyle O’Quinn for one year, no new deal for Young who opted into his player option).

All of it led to this summer with Indiana having more cap space than they’ve likely ever had that could be used to sign free agents or make trades with teams looking for cap space. For Pritchard, this period could end up defining his tenure with the Paces as much as the Oladipo/Paul George swap for better or for worse. The big questions were what would he be able to do with the large amount of available money for a team that hasn’t had much success in attracting free agents over the course of its existence and whether that flexibility that he worked hard to maintain lead to anything at all.

It’s hard to imagine a better scenario coming to fruition than what transpired last night (at least one that’s realistic) in what was a whirlwind in the first 45 minutes of free agency.

Continue reading Indiana Pacers cash in on their flexibility with Brogdon, Lamb

Under-the-radar guards for Pacers: Satoransky, Jones, Curry

The Indiana Pacers have plenty of cap space to make moves when free agency starts and plenty of holes to fill on the roster. Here are a few guys that are more under the radar that could help add some depth at the guard positions to the roster.

If the Pacers keep Bojan Bogdanovic as it seems is the plan (though the Utah Jazz are trying to swoop in when free agency starts), they have around $21 million in cap space to use on other free agents. These players could potentially be had for a smaller portion of that space than the players (some good options, some not so much) previously covered here in more detail:

Restricted: D’Angelo Russell, Malcolm Brogdon, Terry Rozier

Veterans: Ricky Rubio, George Hill, Patrick Beverley, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo

The max guys that aren’t coming: Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker

Tomas Satoransky

Satoransky is a restricted free agent so that complicates a potential deal but the Wizards may be pressed to let him go with their less than ideal cap situation. At 6’7″, Satoransky has a lot of positional versatility. He can play both guard spots and small forward. Continue reading Under-the-radar guards for Pacers: Satoransky, Jones, Curry

How Darren Collison’s retirement affects the Indiana Pacers

While the Indiana Pacers seemed unlikely to bring Darren Collison back in free agency, his surprising retirement at 31 years old will have ripple effects in the point guard market.

With one less appealing veteran guard available less than 48 hours before free agency begins, the price of every other free agent at the position could go up. Teams that were planning on pursuing Collison will have to look elsewhere for their floor general needs. Continue reading How Darren Collison’s retirement affects the Indiana Pacers

Pacers Free Agency: Rubio, Beverley, Hill

There’s perhaps no bigger need for the Indiana Pacers than a starting point guard. There are many NBA veterans hitting free agency that could fill in this role including Ricky Rubio, Patrick Beverley, and George Hill.

Ideally, the Pacers would probably look to sign someone like this to a short-term deal if they believe that Aaron Holiday will eventually take over the position down the line. Previously, we looked at possible options that could be seen as more long-term choices for the position but could be harder to obtain because of being restricted free agents:

Ricky Rubio

Rubio has been mentioned in many rumors connected to the Pacers. With ESPN’s Zach Lowe and The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor both reporting that he’s a major possibility to end up in Indiana. Lowe said the Pacers will be looking at many options, including the trade market, especially if Rubio’s market gets “too frothy” but there haven’t been many other teams rumored to be connected to him except for the Phoenix Suns. Continue reading Pacers Free Agency: Rubio, Beverley, Hill

Pacers Free Agency: Russell, Brogdon, Rozier

The Indiana Pacers need a point guard. There are many available on the free agent market. Some of the more intriguing options are restricted free agents, which historically hasn’t been an area where the Pacers have pursued players. Would that change with players like D’Angelo Russell and Malcolm Brogdon?

Restricted free agency is difficult for teams to dive into. Once you agree to an offer sheet with a player, your cap space is held hostage for 48 hours while the player’s original team decides whether or not to match the offer. If they do decide to match, many backup options will have likely signed elsewhere. The Pacers would likely prefer going after these players if they were renounced by their original teams and became unrestricted free agents which could happen with a couple of them.

D’Angelo Russell

Russell is one of the fanbase’s favorite targets. Coming off of an All-Star season and at just 23 years old, it’s easy to see why. If Kyrie Irving joins the Nets, Brooklyn may be inclined to withdraw Russell’s qualifying offer and make him an unrestricted free agent. This would make a lot more teams interested in his services without the hassle of RFA.

Russell, the former 2nd overall pick, averaged career highs across the board with 21.1 points and 7 assists per game while upping his shooting percentage to 43.4% and his 3-point percentage to 36.9%. Continue reading Pacers Free Agency: Russell, Brogdon, Rozier

Pacers Free Agency: Thinking Big

The Indiana Pacers have plenty of holes in the roster to fill during free agency. Perhaps none more glaring than at the point guard position.

There are many directions the Pacers could go and options that Kevin Pritchard and the front office can pursue. Indiana could try and make a play for a big name All Star like Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving. They could look to the restricted free agent market to get young up-and-coming players like D’Angelo Russell, Malcolm Brogdon or Terry Rozier.  Veteran point guards like George Hill, Patrick Beverley, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo could all be available. Under-the-radar restricted free agents like Tomas Satoransky and Tyus Jones could both be targets if the Pacers thought they could do more with a larger role. And if none of these options work out or the remaining just aren’t appealing, Indiana could try to bring back one of their own in Darren Collison or Cory Joseph.

Currently, only Aaron Holiday and Edmond Sumner could play the lead guard position on the team. While Holiday is almost definitely going to get a larger role next season, it probably won’t be as a full-time starter in his second season. Sumner has shown flashes of potential and stood out in the G-League last year, but he’s more likely to be the emergency option at both guard spots if the Pacers pick up his team option than someone that gets consistent minutes every night. With Victor Oladipo out until December or January, finding someone that can carry the load of ball-handling duties would seem paramount.

The Big Fish: Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving

These are by far the most unlikely targets for the Pacers to end up actually signing among the many covered here, but Pritchard talked about wanting his front office to “think big” and there are no bigger options to pursue in free agency than Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving. Continue reading Pacers Free Agency: Thinking Big

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

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.