All posts by Derek Kramer

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

Which Pacers prospects look poised for a breakout?

One of the best ways for a small market team to get better from year to year is improvement from their young players. The Indiana Pacers made a lot of changes to the roster and made valuable additions over the summer via trade and free agency  but there’s some open rotation spots that will be filled by some unproven prospects.

Opportunities are open for the taking especially while Victor Oladipo is out. Young players like Aaron Holiday, T.J. Leaf, Edmond Sumner, and Goga Bitadze could all be part of the bench unit early in the season but which players on the roster could be poised for a mini-breakout?

Aaron Holiday

Holiday is penciled in as the backup point guard but he’s got a lot to prove about being ready to run an NBA offense after mostly playing off the ball in his rookie season. He struggled to efficiently produce and take care of the ball in Summer League but it’s hard to judge any player too harshly based on those exhibition games especially with a roster with both a lack of shooting and size. Continue reading Which Pacers prospects look poised for a breakout?

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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.

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.

Aaron Holiday in line for increased role

In his rookie season for the Indiana Pacers, Aaron Holiday flashed his promise frequently but was often confined to the bench behind a pair of veteran point guards.

Don’t expect that to be the case in his second year.

“I feel he should be a rotational player next season,” said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan of Holiday during last week’s press conference. “There’s certainly some areas he needs to grow, but I like what he brings to the floor. He’s a young kid that has a great deal of confidence in himself. I think he can help us. … He certainly should be in the rotation next year.”

McMillan said he was impressed with him from the start of training camp and he earned the respect of his teammates too.

“I love Aaron, man,” Myles Turner said after the Pacers were eliminated from the playoffs. “He’s just so poised. I feel like any position he’s in he can be himself. You can’t make him speed up. You can’t make him get out of character.” Continue reading Aaron Holiday in line for increased role