Category Archives: Analysis

The Buyout Market: Should the Pacers make a move?

It’s the post-trade-deadline buyout season in the NBA and many recently-released veterans are now looking to join playoff teams. Players like Terrence Jones, Andrew Bogut, Luis Scola, Mike Scott, and Brandon Jennings have all been bought out of their deals and are now free agents.

Should the Pacers be looking to add someone after being unable to add depth at the deadline? The Pacers went this route last year with Ty Lawson, who gave Pacers hope in his brief debut, but spent most of his time in Indiana injured during the regular season and mostly ineffective during the playoff series against the Raptors.

The Pacers do currently have a full roster of 15 players and all have guaranteed deals, so they can’t just sign any free agent without either waiving or buying out another player on the roster. If the Pacers go after one of these players, they’ll have to part with a young player like Joe Young, Georges Niang, or Rakeem Christmas, or they could look to buy out Aaron Brooks, who is now out of the rotation, much like they did with Chase Budinger last season. Kevin Seraphin could also be a possibility.

Of the young players, Christmas is probably the least likely to be waived now that he’s played fairly well in his first opportunity to play meaningful minutes with Al Jefferson out the last two games with a dental issue. It’d be surprising if the Pacers gave up so soon on rookie Georges Niang, who might be an offensive asset as a playmaking four with a high basketball IQ if he ever gets a chance to play.

Young hasn’t shown much promise since his last season’s West-Coast road trip and has struggled to find his shooting stroke without consistent minutes. He’s shooting just 21.7% from 3-point range in both seasons of his career to this point and still seems like a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. He’s the most likely of any of the young players to be let go at this point.

Brooks is a possibility if he’s unhappy with his current role with the team and wants an opportunity to play elsewhere. The problem with getting rid of Brooks is that if Rodney Stuckey or Monta Ellis get hurt again, which has been an issue for Stuckey throughout his time with the Pacers and for Ellis this season, then Brooks would be needed back in the rotation. Young has yet to show that he’s capable of being a quality rotation player as a point guard in the NBA.

The Pacers also have to consider how this will effect team chemistry. Joe Young is a distant cousin of Paul George, so it might not be a good idea to cut his relative after he’s already dealt with being unexpectedly in trade rumors during the deadline. It might not be a big deal, but it could be. With anyone on the roster, it depends what they mean to the rest of the team behind the scenes. Before the All-Star break, there did seem to be some rumblings about poor team chemistry but it seems unlikely that Brooks, Seraphin, or any of the young guys would have been the root of that issue.

Would letting go of any of these players and adding a new one hurt team chemistry even further or help it? It’s another factor that Larry Bird and the Pacers will have to consider before adding anyone. Lawson didn’t seem to have any negative effect last year, but another midseason free agent pickup in Andrew Bynum did not help the Pacers chemistry in the midst of The Struggle in 2014.

The Pacers do have about $4 million in cap room if they look to add a player for the remainder of the season.

Here’s a look at top options for the Pacers on the market if Bird does look to add someone.

Terrence Jones: Jones was released by the Pelicans after they acquired DeMarcus Cousins in a heist from the Kings. They may be regretting it now that they’ve had to waive Omri Casspi, who is injured for the remainder of the season. Jones is a playmaking four that the Pacers could certainly use as a backup off the bench. He averaged 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in nearly 25 minutes per game this season with the Pelicans. Jones could be a similar player to Thad Young, but with less outside shooting ability, and allow the Pacers to have the same type of player in at the four position for 48 minutes instead of the offensively-challenged Lavoy Allen or the playing-out-of-position Kevin Seraphin.

Mike Scott: Scott was let go by the Phoenix Suns after acquiring him in a trade from the Atlanta Hawks and is having a horrid year shooting the ball. He’s a stretch four shooting just 15% from 3-point land this season. The Pacers bench has been far better this season when they surround Al Jefferson with players that spread the floor and if Scott can re-find his stroke, he would help with the spacing of the second unit. You may remember him lighting it up against the Pacers in the first-round playoff series a few years ago. Scott was also arrested on drug charges over the summer of 2015 that may cause the Pacers to look elsewhere.

Luis Scola: The former Pacer was bought out by the Brooklyn Nets today. Scola averaged about 5 points and 4 rebounds in just 12 minutes per game for the lowly Nets. Scola has used the 3-point shot much more frequently since leaving the Pacers and shot 40% from 3-point range just last year. While his percentages are down to 34% this season, he could still help stretch the floor for the second unit. He’s always going to be playing as hard as he can, but he is slow and defense has never been a strength for the 36-year-old veteran.

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A Good Problem: Finding minutes for Glenn Robinson III

With Paul George and C.J. Miles both out the past two games, Glenn Robinson III has stepped up in their absence and led the team in scoring each of the last two games for the Indiana Pacers.

First, GR3 put up 20 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block while making 4 of his 6 3-point attempts in a landslide victory against the Brooklyn Nets.

In his encore performance against the Los Angeles Clippers, Robinson made 7 of his 9 shots for a team-high 17 points and 6 rebounds.

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Now as George and Miles are nearing a return to the lineup, the Pacers have a bit of a conundrum. How do they find minutes for their budding young player that seems to be growing in confidence the more he plays while also not creating a disgruntled veteran that gets pushed out of the rotation?

Putting Robinson back on the bench and out of the rotation is simply not an option at this point as he seems to be ready to take on a full-time role at minimum as a backup wing.

McMillan is surely eager to see if Robinson can build on this momentum and keep up his recent level of performance, and here are some options that may be considered by the Pacers coaching staff.

Option 1: Start GR3

One option the Pacers could look at is moving Robinson to the starting shooting guard while moving Monta Ellis to a sixth-man role.

The Pacers briefly had Ellis come off the bench in favor of a scorching Miles, but the experiment only last a single game. Ellis already plays a lot of time leading the second unit and his skill set has always seemed perfect for a sixth-man scorer that could attack opposing benches.

This would be the scenario that gives Robinson the biggest role. Ellis could still end up playing more minutes, but if Robinson can keep up his hot shooting from 3-point land of late he could bring a much needed boost in spacing to that starting lineup.

The challenge for Robinson in this option will be keeping his aggressiveness while playing alongside George. Too often in the past, Robinson has been too passive when given opportunities with the starters, but this has changed in the past two games with Robinson playing with extreme confidence and making quick decisions when he decides to attack. There hasn’t been any hesistation when he gets a chance to shoot.

He’s still picking his spots, but has been very efficient in the past two games, shooting 68% from the field (13 of 19). Obviously, this is not a sustainable percentage, but he can continue to build up his 44% shooting from the field and 34% shooting from deep, he’ll be valuable as a floor spacer for the starters.

Robinson is also a better defense option for this lineup as it gives the Pacers more size to go against teams with bigger guards. This has been a problem with Ellis in certain matchups. A perfect example being the game against the Charlotte Hornets where Michael Kidd-Gilchrist destroyed Ellis in the post repeatedly to begin the game as the Hornets took advantage of that match up over and over again early.

The problem with Ellis coming off the bench is then what do the Pacers do with Aaron Brooks and Rodney Stuckey. Miles is locked in as the backup small forward once he’s healthy. So backup minutes at the guard positions would have to be split between three players: Ellis, Stuckey, and Brooks.

McMillan would likely end up benching Brooks, who is by far the best shooter of the group, and the Ellis, Stuckey combo would have many of the same issues that Ellis, Teague as a pair have (both need the ball, both aren’t great as floor spacers off the ball, small defenders).

Option 2: Glenn Robinson III, backup wing

Robinson gets a rotation spot while coming off the bench as a backup option at both the wing positions. C.J. Miles will likely still play more time in this scenario, especially if he comes back shooting as well as he has so far this season. The Pacers have been much better this season with Ellis on the floor than off so keeping him with starters isn’t a terrible option.

The problem that this creates is the same as the previous one. What does McMillan do with Stuckey and Brooks?

The only way to still play both of them would be to give Miles and Robinson some time as a small-ball power forward and eliminate some or all of Lavoy Allen’s minutes.

While this may sound appealing, Miles has serious durability issues already and playing the power forward spot wore him down quickly last season, and the Pacers do tend to rebound better with Allen on the floor, which has been a weakness of this team.

Once again, this will have to lead to benching of Stuckey or Brooks, who both have had some decent moments this season.

Option 3: Larry Bird finds a trade partner for Stuckey, Ellis, or Brooks.

If the Pacers truly believe that Robinson is ready for a permanent, contributing role, then Larry Bird should be searching for any takers for either Stuckey, Ellis, or Brooks.

None of these players are going to be hot commodities in the trade market. Hoping for some team to offer a first-round pick for one of these players is highly unlikely, but looking for a backup power forward (Omri Casspi, perhaps?) is possible or maybe the Pacers can get an offer of a second-round pick or two.

Trading away one of these players opens up an obvious spot for GR3 to slide right into and avoid having a veteran becoming disgruntled while spending all of his time on the bench.

The risk in trading one of these players away becomes an issue if Robinson can’t continue this level of performance and loses confidence.

If the Pacers think Robinson’s ready to roll, he needs to have consistent playing time, and McMillan will have to make changes to the rotation once everyone’s healthy to keep him on the court and off the bench.

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Breaking news: Myles Turner is pretty good at basketball

The Indiana Pacers opened the season with an overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks last night 130-121. Paul George had 25 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists. New point guard Jeff Teague had 20 points and 8 assists. But the real star in game one was the 20-year-old second-year big man from Texas, Myles Turner.

Turner put up monster numbers of 30 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 2 steals. He hit 13 of his 19 shots, including a three-pointer in overtime that pushed the Pacers lead to four. He and Anthony Davis became only the third and fourth players since 1973 to put up 30 points and 16 rebounds in a season opener. Continue reading Breaking news: Myles Turner is pretty good at basketball

Myles Turner & Al Jefferson a perfect match

The Pacers signing of Al Jefferson to a 3-year, $30 million contract might be the best thing they could have done for their future star Myles Turner.

Professor Al meet your student.

“As far as helping younger players,” said Jefferson, “that’s just part of my DNA.” Like Turner, Jefferson came into the NBA as a 19-year-old rookie, and Jefferson’s always been eager to repay the favor of veterans teaching him at the beginning of his career.

“I’m really looking forward to working with some of these young guys,” said Jefferson. And later, “Turner’s got upside.”  Continue reading Myles Turner & Al Jefferson a perfect match