Category Archives: news

Christmas is over in Indiana: Pacers waive Rakeem Christmas

Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports reported that the Pacers plan to waive Rakeem Christmas before the end of the day. 

Christmas had a contract that would have become fully guaranteed on the first of August. He became expendable as the Pacers amassed numerous bigs on their roster through draft and through trade.

The Pacers waiving of Christmas ends their longest transaction tree that was still going as you can trace the Pacers acquiring Christmas all the way back to when they drafted Dale Davis. Jermaine O’Neal and Roy Hibbert are also in this transaction tree.

He’s been playing for the Pacers in Summer League this week but has been unable to stay on the court much due to a sprained ankle. 

Christmas played well for a brief stretch in February showing he could have value as an energy guy off the bench that rebounds and sets screens. He was heavily foul prone, however, and the Pacers decided to play Al Jefferson or Kevin Seraphin for the rest of the season as the backup center.

This is the second cap-saving move in two days as the Pacers waived Monta Ellis yesterday and will use the stretch provision to spread out the remaining $11.2 million on his deal over five seasons.

Pacers sign rookie Edmond Sumner to 2-way contract

The Indiana Pacers announced today that they signed second-round draft pick Edmond Sumner to a contract. 

Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports reports that this will be a 2-year, 2-way contract. 

This is the first year that 2-way contracts exist. Each team can have up to two of these contracts at any time that can be worth a maximum of $275K per season. Players on a 2-way contract can spend time with a G-League affiliate and up to 45 days with their NBA team, but the team keeps exclusive rights to the player. No other team can sign these players as call ups unlike players on normal G-League deals.

NBA teams basically have 17 roster spots now, but only 15 of them have typical NBA contracts. Here’s a helpful guide of FAQ on the new type of contract.

For the Pacers, this contract is ideal for Sumner as he heals from an ACL injury. The point guard from Xavier was seen as a potential first-round pick before the injury, so this gives the Pacers time to see if Sumner, who averaged 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 22 games in his last season at Xavier, can recover and return to form without him taking up one of their 15 NBA contracts.

Much like the Pacers other second-round pick, Ike Anigbogu, it’ll take some time for this low-risk bet to pay off. Anigbogu has not been signed yet. 

Pacers use stretch provision to waive Monta Ellis

The Indiana Pacers put a close to a past poor free agency decision today by waiving Monta Ellis according to various media outlets.

Ellis still had 2 years and $22.9 million left on his 4 year, $44 million contract, but the second year is voided because of a strange quirk to his contract that eliminates his player option if he’s waived before the end of the 2017-18 regular season.

David Aldridge reports that the Pacers will use the stretch provision to spread his remaining salary out over five years, so the Pacers will gain nearly $9 million in cap space this season, but lose a little over $2 million in space for the next four years.

The Pacers were rumored to be trying to clear cap space earlier in the day for Kelly Olynyk, though the reasons remain unclear as the Pacers already have too many bigs on the roster.

We’ll have to wait and see what Kevin Pritchard does with his new found cap space.

Ellis struggled during his two years with the Pacers as his skills seemed to rapidly deteriorate. He scored his lowest points per game totals since his rookie season in each of his two years.

Updated: Pacers waive Monta Ellis after discussing buyout

Update: The Vertical reports that the Pacers have waived Monta Ellis. The Pacers will only have to pay for this year on his contract as the final season’s player option is voided by the Pacers waiving him. No buyout agreement was reached.

According to Nate Taylor of the IndyStar, the Indiana Pacers are discussing a buyout with Monta Ellis, who was recently suspended for the first five games of next season for violating the drug policy.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported in his Darren Collison article that the Pacers were still pondering whether Ellis would be a part of this year’s team.

Ellis has completed two years of a 4-year, $44 million deal, one of the much maligned deals that Larry Bird handed out in the past two off-seasons. Last season was arguably the worst season of his career as his age has evaporated many of his skills and he fit poorly alongside Jeff Teague.

If the Pacers buy him out, he’ll still count against the cap this season, but shouldn’t next season because the player option for 2018-19 is void if the Pacers waive him before the end of the 2017-18 regular season.

Woj: Darren Collison, Pacers agree to 2-year deal in principle 

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (that still feels weird to type) reports that the Pacers and free agent point guard Darren Collison have agreed to a 2-year, $20 million contract in principle.

Collison will either step into the starting lineup or backup Lance Stephenson at the point guard position. The deal is short at only two years, with a partial guarantee on year two, so it doesn’t affect the future cap space the Pacers will have while they rebuild.

Collison, 29, played for the Pacers for two seasons early in his career before being included in a sign-and-trade deal that brought Ian Mahinmi to the Pacers after Collison lost his starting job to George Hill, who the Pacers were also rumored to be interested in bringing back, during the previous season.

Last year, Collison averaged 13.2 points and 4.6 assists per game for the Sacramento Kings. He also has been suspended in the past for domestic abuse and plead guilty to the charge.

Shelburne: Paul George has been traded to the Thunder

The saga is over. Paul George has been acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

She’s reporting that Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis are going to Indiana. It looks like no draft picks will be coming the Pacers way.

Multiple outlets have confirmed the trade. No draft picks appear to be part of the deal.

The Pacers get two young players in Oladipo and Sabonis. The former IU star Oladipo is 25 and just starting a 4-year contract worth $84 million and Sabonis was last year’s 11th pick.

Oladipo averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists last year with the Thunder. Sabonis averaged 5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game in his rookie season.

2017 Summer League Preview

Tomorrow, the Indiana Pacers start their annual Summer League games in Orlando, continuing to prefer the more intimate atmosphere without fans over the Las Vegas Summer League.

The Summer League is made up of players trying to prove something whether it’s a young player with an NBA contract trying to show they deserve playing time when the real games start (like Glenn Robinson III last year) or an NBA hopeful just trying to catch the eye of some team that will give them a shot in the league (Willie Reed dominated Summer League for a couple of years before finally getting a contract from the Nets). 

This is often the first time fans get to see their new draft picks play with their NBA team and get excited with their potential (Myles Turner, Paul George, Lance Stephenson).

It’s important to remember that you can’t overreact to anything that happens in these ultimately meaningless games. These are a group of guys that got thrown together a week prior and it often looks like bad pickup basketball. Some players will play great in Orlando against these young hopefuls, but struggle once the regular season starts (Joe Young). Others won’t take these games seriously and look like they don’t belong in the NBA at all, but once the regular season starts, they start to show their value and abilities again (Solomon Hill).

With that said, there’s still value in these games (otherwise, why keep doing it every year?). Here’s a look at the Pacers roster and what the Pacers will be looking for out of each player:

Joe Young: In Young’s third Summer League, his experience should make him one of the best players on the court at all times. The Pacers will be looking at how well Young can run an offense as a point guard and how well he defends on the other end. Kevin Pritchard gave Young a vote of confidence in his press conference saying he could potentially play off the ball with Lance Stephenson running the point, but Young’s clearest path to a consistent role in the NBA is if he can play at the point guard position.

According to Spotrac.com, Young’s contract becomes guaranteed tomorrow for next season, so Joe should be on the roster next year. But this may be his final season to prove he’s an NBA player as 2018-19 is a team option for the Pacers.

Georges Niang: Niang played very well in the Summer League last season, showing off his high basketball IQ and scoring ability. It’s still a surprise that Niang was never given an opportunity last year as a stretch four especially with limited spacing coming from the bench units, but Nate McMillan must have been too concerned about Niang’s defense. The Pacers will be watching Niang on that end of the court this week as he has showed in the past that while his basketball IQ gets him to the right spots, his limited athleticism gives him problems on that end.

Rakeem Christmas: For the second straight summer, Christmas is playing to keep his contract. Last year, Christmas beat out Shayne Whittington. This year the Pacers have a load of centers already on the roster: Myles Turner, Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin, Christmas, and second-round pick Ike Anigbogu. The Pacers did decline Lavoy Allen’s team option.

Christmas will have to show that he’s worthy of keeping around. He showed his value in a brief stretch in February as an energetic big off the bench that sets screens and rebounds. The problem Christmas had was defending without fouling. Seeing a theme yet? He’s another player to watch on the defensive end.

TJ Leaf: The Pacers first-round pick will miss Saturday’s game to be the best man at his brother’s wedding, but when he comes back, the Pacers will get their first look at Leaf in an NBA setting. Leaf shot the 3-pointer well for UCLA but on limited attempts so it’ll be interesting to see if his range goes out to the NBA 3-point line. Leaf shows off some great athleticism in finishing some dunks at the rim, but defensively he needs a lot of work, especially in the pick and roll. How well the 19-year-old rookie plays on that end will likely determine how much playing he can get this year.

Leaf’s fellow draft picks Ike Anigbogu and Edmond Sumner will not play due to injury.

Ben Moore: Moore, who the Pacers signed to a partially guaranteed contract, has been described as a potential undrafted success story by the Ringer and is seen to have potential defensively as a modern big man that can switch everything on screens. The key for Moore making a place for himself in the NBA will be on the offensive end where he didn’t show much ability to shoot at SMU.

Augusto Lima: Lima is Brazilian and is under contract with Real Madrid currently, but he could be bought out by an NBA team. He’s a 6’10” center that runs the floor well and can make some phenomenal rim protections plays. He went undrafted in 2013, but the Pacers had been scouting his progress in Europe since then.

Jordan Loyd: Loyd played at the University of Indianapolis and last season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He averaged 15/4/4 with Fort Wayne last season and was getting some NBA attention at the end of the season. He’ll also play in the Las Vegas Summer League with the Raptors.

Isaac Hamilton: Hamilton joins his UCLA college teammate Leaf in the Summer League. The guard averaged about 14 points and shot 38% over his three seasons with the Bruins.

Naz Mitrou-Long: One of three former Iowa State players on the Summer League squad. He improved his scoring average every year with the Cyclones and finished at 15 points per game in his final season.

Bubu Palo: Another former Cyclone, Palo averaged 16.1 points and 5 assists for Sioux Falls Skyforce in his third season in the D-League.

Jarnell Stokes: This power forward has played 28 NBA games in his career over the past three seasons with the Grizzlies, Heat and Nuggets. He was a D-League All Star two years ago averaging over 20 points and 9 rebounds per game.

Chris Johnson: Johnson has nearly 150 NBA games on his resume after playing for six teams in four seasons, but spent last year in the D-League, averaging 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

Travis Leslie: Leslie, a 6’4″ guard, played for the Mad Ants last season averaging 13.9 points and 6.2 rebounds.

Trey McKinney-Jones: Another member of the Mad Ants last season, McKinney-Jones has spent three of the last four years with Fort Wayne. Last year, he averaged 16.6 points, 5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game.


Pacers draft a pair of intriguing UCLA prospects

While the Indiana Pacers were unable to find a deal to their liking for Paul George, they managed to add two first-round talents in the draft with the 18th and 47th picks in a pair of UCLA prospects, TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu.

Leaf, the Pacers first-round selection, is an offensively gifted, but defensively challenged stretch four. Pritchard was beaming about his offensive skill set after the draft.

“I think he’s that kind of new-age four,” said Kevin Pritchard, who said they felt like Leaf was a top-10 pick in this draft. “He can spread the floor. He can put it down. He’s athletic at the rim. He’s got a knack for scoring the ball at the rim with either hand, and he runs. He’s a gazelle; he loves to run.”

Leaf shot 47% in limited attempts at the 3-point line in his line season at UCLA and the Pacers are excited to add his shooting ability.

“You need shooting,” said Pacers coach Nate McMillan. “That’s his strength. We felt TJ was the best fit for us.”

Perhaps most importantly for the Pacers as they deal with a superstar that does not want to play in Indiana, Leaf was wanting to be drafted by the Pacers.

“At the end of the day does that make a little bit more of a difference?” said Pritchard of Leaf wanting to be in Indiana. “Yeah, maybe today it did.”

With Anigbogu, the Pacers may have got a steal with the youngest player in the draft as he was projected to go in the mid-to-late first round but fell due to concerns about the health of his knees. 

 https://twitter.com/evandaniels/status/878087292912619520

Anigbogu is a large, athletic center that prides himself on the dirty work: setting screens, rebounding, toughness, and rim protection.

Even though he’s only 18 years old, he’s already a big, strong kid that should be able to hang with NBA bodies. The key will be whether or not his knees are as bad as many teams thought.

The Pacers also added Xavier guard Edmond Sumner after giving cash for another pick late in the second round and reportedly signed SMU forward Ben Moore to a partially guaranteed deal as an undrafted free agent. Both may be candidates for the new 2-way contracts that allow the Pacers to keep exclusive rights to up to two players on their D-League team.

Pacers decline Lavoy Allen’s option

The Indiana Pacers announced today that they were declining Lavoy Allen’s $4 million team option for the last year of his contract.

Allen seemed to know the news was coming as his Twitter profile no longer said Indiana Pacers but had two blanks for whomever his team ends up being this season.

Allen averaged 2.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in his final season with the Pacers with his best game coming on his birthday with 18 points and 11 rebounds with a celebratory night out with Pacers sideline reporter Jeremiah Johnson at a Barcade afterwards.

Allen was acquired in the Danny Granger trade at the deadline in 2014 as an afterthought to Evan Turner and was the Pacers second-longest tenured player currently on the roster.

Allen’s sense of humor and offensive rebounding will leave the Pacers and look for a new opportunity somewhere else in the league.

Woj: Paul George informs Pacers he plans to leave team after next season

The Vertical is reporting that George has told the Indiana Pacers of his intentions to leave, preferably to the Los Angeles Lakers, in order to give the Pacers time to prepare for their future that will likely be without him.

This is a drastically different message then what Paul George told the Indianapolis media at a charity softball event just a few days ago, saying that he still wants to win a championship for Indiana, but wants help to do so.

George saying that he wants to go the Lakers does not give the Pacers any leverage to make a deal with another team as they will also expect that George will leave them in free agency after this season.

This doesn’t give the Pacers any good options in this scenario. It’ll be hard for fans to come out and cheer for George this season when they know he’s planning to leave, and the Pacers end up with nothing in return for their superstar. The Lakers are unlikely to offer much of anything of value because they’ll have the cap space to sign George this upcoming offseason.

This also doesn’t make the Pacers an appealing free agent destination if they know George is on his way out. The unlikely possibility of Gordon Hayward coming home is even more unlikely now. Even Jeff Teague may reconsider whether he wants to play for his hometown team knowing they may have to rebuild once George is gone.

Monta Ellis suspended for five games

Today, the NBA announced that Monta Ellis and Reggie Bullock violated the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program and will be suspended for the first five games of next season.

The Pacers signed Ellis two years ago to a 4-year deal worth $44 million with a player option for the final season. If the Pacers release Ellis before the end of next season, they will eliminate his player option for the final year as well (which is the same scenario that allowed the Pacers to release Rodney Stuckey late this season).

This signing seems to get worse every year that passes for the Pacers, but this suspension likely won’t make the Pacers worse for those first five games next season. The Pacers won’t miss Ellis on the court, but it does hurt the Pacers chances of trading him away in search of cap space to improve the team in order to persuade Paul George to stay after next season. This already wasn’t going to be an easy task with his skills rapidly declining, and now it gets even harder for Pritchard to find a team willing to take him.

Paul George on his future: “For Indiana, I want that ring.”

Paul George has been a hot topic for discussion as a potential star on the move especially after not making an All-NBA team last season, and tonight the Indianapolis media got a rare off-season chance to ask him questions about his future at the 9th Annual Caroline Symmes Celebrity Softball Challenge that has numerous current and former players for both the Colts and Pacers compete every year. 

Everything that George said tonight is consistent with every other time he’s spoken to the media about his future in the last year or so. George said expects to be an Indiana Pacers player through next season and play out the rest of his contract. He still wants to win in Indiana and still wants some help to do so.

“I’m a Pacer,” said George according to Nate Taylor of the Indy Star. “There’s no way around that. This is my team, my group, and this is where I’m at.”

While the text here doesn’t make George sound enthusiastic about being a Pacer currently in these quotes, it’s likely that he’s sick of all the speculation and rumors about where he’s going when he still has a full year before he’ll be making that decision of whether to stay or whether to leave.

George is still talking about wanting to bring a championship to Indiana and win for the team that drafted him.

“I am all about trying to make this team better,” said George according to Tricia Whitaker of CBS4 Indy. “For Indiana, I want that ring. I need some help to get that accomplished.”

“It’s all about bringing a championship to Indiana,” said George.

The burden to get that help for George is on recently promoted President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. George said he and Pritchard are on the same page after meeting with him the day after his promotion and that he’s pleased with the hire.

“His mind is in the right place in terms of players I want to play with and be around,” said George of Pritchard. “It’s going to be tough, as it would be anywhere to attract players so we’ll see how we shape this team up.”

Pritchard’s approach seems very different than Larry Bird’s infamous “He don’t make decisions around here” stance when the Pacers wanted George to play power forward, and George already seems to appreciate feeling like he’s a part of what Pritchard is trying to do and being kept in the loop. George wasn’t happy about not knowing anything about the trade rumors at the deadline, and Pritchard has made an immediate effort to repair George’s trust with the front office.

Pritchard will be looking to figure out a way to make a splash in free agency or via trade that will get the Pacers back to competing in Eastern Conference Finals. Don’t be surprised to hear if the Pacers are at least looking for a meeting with a free agent like former Butler star Gordon Hayward, especially when George has praised his game in the past.

“I love being a part of what he’s trying to do from day one,” said George. “We established a great relationship.”

Actually pulling in a player like Hayward or someone of similar caliber will be easier said than done for Pritchard as the Pacers will have limited resources available if they intend to re-sign Jeff Teague and CJ Miles. Finding takers on the contracts of both Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson is one of few potential options of freeing up cap space, but the Pacers are unlikely to find any suitors on the old veterans without a draft pick attached to the deal as well.

If George makes an All-NBA team this season, he’ll still qualify for that enormous extension that only the Pacers can offer him, so George has an extra motivation to not be traded this season.

George, who had previously stated that he felt like he played well enough to make one of the All-NBA teams this season, said that he won’t play the “political game” when it comes to the All-NBA teams and that he knows he needs to be better next season to make one of those teams.

https://twitter.com/schultz975/status/875477492706013188

The constant trade rumors and speculation about George’s future will remain a constant until next off-season when George opts out of his current contract and becomes a free agent.

“They’re all crazy,” said George about trade rumors, “but they’re all expected.”

After the finals, the television talking heads and some journalists have talked or written about the idea of George being traded to the Cavaliers as a kind of counter to the Warriors acquiring Kevin Durant last off-season. None of them seem to consider the Pacers will make a decision based on their own interests and likely won’t even consider dealing George to their division rival that already is the best team in the Eastern Conference.

And George says he doesn’t have any plans on speaking with James about his future.

“He’s been a huge influencer for me outside of the game,” said George, “but we don’t communicate and figure out where one another’s going.”

At this point, it seems highly unlikely that the Pacers will be trading George during the off-season. Zach Lowe, Brian Windhorst, and Ramona Shelburne each recently said on Lowe’s podcast that they had heard the Pacers weren’t looking to trade George currently from their own sources, and George isn’t currently demanding one either. As George said, they’re on the “same page.”

If the Pacers do start looking to trade George, it will likely be because they failed to add any new pieces and George then requests a trade, or the season isn’t going as planned at the deadline next year and the Pacers decide he’s likely to leave and to get whatever they can before losing him for nothing.

For the fans in Indiana, it’s still a game of wait and see. There will just be a lot of rumors and speculation about George’s future until the day comes.

In the meantime, let’s try to just enjoy Paul George.

 

NBA Live 18 has the Pacers in uniforms that don’t exist. At least not yet.

During an EA Sports presentation of their edition to the mostly-maligned NBA Live series, the Pacers were shown at times in a uniform that does not exist. At least not yet.

UPDATE: Pacers radio voice Mark Boyle says he has seen the new uniforms and these are not them. So it looks like EA Sports just made an error on the Pacers uniforms in these clips. This does confirm that the Pacers will have new uniforms for this upcoming season.

Indiana Sports Coverage’s Grant Afseth was the first to notice the peculiar uniforms from the NBA Live video.

The Pacers have long been rumored to be getting new uniforms for next season when Nike takes over from Adidas, but the uniforms seen in the screenshots aren’t much of change from their current attire. If EA Sports accidentally leaked the new Nike uniforms, the Pacers seemed to have mostly opted to keep things the same.

One thing that goes against the theory that these are the leaked uniforms is that the Pacers 50th season patch is still on the jersey as seen in the above image of Paul George. If I had to guess, I’d say these won’t be the new uniforms but we’ll have to wait and see. Here’s the video with the Pacers odd jersey in action.

Paul George didn’t make an All-NBA team, so now what?

Earlier today, the All-NBA teams were announced. This was an important event for the Pacers franchise as they found out whether Paul George would qualify for the new Designated Player Extension that would allow the Pacers to extend George to a significantly larger contract than he would be able to get from any other team if he chose to leave in free agency after next season.

Unfortunately for George and the Pacers, George didn’t even come close to making one of the three All-NBA teams. George finished with 40 points from the voting, while Jimmy Butler grabbed the final forward spot with 102 points. Draymond Green was the other third-team forward and finished with 134 points as he was boosted by his positional versatility that garnered him many votes as a center.

So, now that the Pacers have lost this key tool to potentially convince George to stick around by signing an extension this summer, what do they do now?

Meet with Paul George and his agent and have the most important conversation in franchise history. According to the Indy Star, George is expected to mull over his options this weekend before meeting with the Pacers, so this is already in the works.

Pritchard should start with the obvious question when the meeting takes place: are you really hellbent on joining the Los Angeles Lakers? George’s agent spread the rumors that it was Lakers or bust to NBA GMs near the deadline this season, but this could have just been a tactic to prevent his client from being traded and losing any possibility of the super-max contract through the DPE. This kills the Pacers leverage in any potential deal if true as teams will be very reluctant to offer much in a trade for George if it’s just a single season rental and if you’re the Lakers, you don’t want to give up much if you think he’s just going to join your team as a free agent anyway.

Sidenote: I’ve never fully bought the Lakers narrative despite the rumors, the heavy recruitment from Jimmy Kimmel and the winks from Magic Johnson. Sure, George is a guy from California and a huge Kobe Bryant fan, but he’s also said multiple times in the past that he grew up a big fan of the Clippers. The Lakers are also a very bad team right now. George has said repeatedly that he wants to win and get back to those days of competing in the conference finals and presumably farther than that. His path to contention with the current makeup of the Lakers doesn’t scream instant success.

The Lakers in that loaded western conference would still be a star player or two away from having a shot at contending with George added to the roster. There’s no guarantees that any of their young guys or whoever they take at the number two pick will eventually be a star, and does George really want to wait for them to grow up during the prime years of his career? It would make a lot more sense for George to want to go to a team that is already in contention.

Kevin Durant didn’t leave the Thunder to join a rebuilding effort. He left to create perhaps the most talented super team of all time with the Golden State Warriors. LeBron James didn’t abandon Cleveland to start from scratch; he teamed up with his Team USA friends to win championships. Does he really want to go to Los Angeles just to sell more shoes and visit Kimmel’s late night show on the regular? It’s hard to see him wanting to go to LA if he wants to win in the near future.

Anyway, if George wants to leave and it actually is only to the Lakers, the Pacers are screwed as long as his agent keeps letting everyone know about it. A team desperate for a star may still make an offer thinking that they can woo him to stay in that one season (Sixers, Hawks, Nuggets and Suns all either made offers at the deadline and/or have been trying to get a star player for awhile), but it’s unlikely to garner much in return for the Pacers compared to a situation where George was open to re-signing to a team that traded for him other than the Lakers.

George tweeted and deleted this reply with no text to a Bleacher Report article earlier today that mentions that the Celtics should trade the number one pick for someone like George or Butler if they can according to Paul Pierce. It likely means nothing besides George reads Bleacher Report articles sometimes, but it nevertheless caused a frenzy of freak outs on Twitter. If this really was a signal that George was ready to leave, it would at least say he was open to other teams besides the Lakers.

I don’t think George wants to leave Indiana empty-handed. George does keep saying how he loves Indiana and that it’s a great place to play basketball. He has to know that he’ll be vilified if he simply walks away in free agency, leaving the Pacers with nothing but memories.

If George does want to go, hopefully he’ll be upfront about it and give the Pacers an opportunity to get something in return. If he’s actually open to signing with other teams than the Lakers, and as long as the agent stops telling NBA GMs otherwise now that he didn’t qualify for the DPE, the Pacers have the opportunity to create a bidding war among teams to get as good of a deal as possible.

It’s also possible, though no one in the NBA world seems to think so, that George wants to remain in Indiana, even after not making an All-NBA team. He’s got a signature shoe and a bunch of endorsement deals. He’s not really suffering by playing in a small market, and the Pacers so far have played LeBron James and the Cavs better than anyone else in the East to this point.

George could also still potentially qualify for the DPE after next season if he makes an All-NBA team, and if he plays like he did from the beginning of March through the playoffs throughout the next season, he’s easily making one of those teams. If George really does want to surpass Reggie Miller in terms of legacy in Indiana, have his number in the rafters like the press release for his Tamika Catchings PG1 colorways said and that big contract is something he wants an opportunity to earn, then the Pacers could take the huge risk of going into this season with that plan in mind.

If the wheels fall off during the season and the team is struggling or George can’t match his play from the end of last season, the Pacers could look to trade George at the deadline if it becomes clear he’s leaving. There are obvious risks here, and the Pacers would have little leverage in any potential deal at that late point, but this is also the only scenario that has the chance of a guaranteed star on the Pacers roster past next season.

 

 

What we learned about Kevin Pritchard during his press conference

Larry Bird officially stepped down as President of Basketball Operations in his press conference earlier today, and Kevin Pritchard was officially promoted to take over Bird’s position.

Here’s what we learned from today’s press conference:

  • Larry Bird decided that this season was going to be his final year as president last season. Bird said that he told Pritchard and another front office guy, Peter Dinwiddie, of his plans, but that only about four people were aware.
  • Bird said the increased budget that Herb Simon, Pacers owner, put in place for this season almost made him want to come back for another season.
  • Bird will remain on as a consultant to the organization, saying that he will help with the scouting department. Pritchard said that he wants Bird in every free agent meeting.
  • Pritchard retakes a lead organizational role similar to the his days in Portland that saw him draft and trade well, earning the reputation for “Pritch-slap” deals.
  • Paul George’s exit interview with Pritchard included only scenarios that would improve the Pacers. George wants to win. “We are on the same page.”
  • Two interesting statements about his philosophy: “You have to be bold in this position.” “I want to be aggressive.”
  • Asked if he would like to re-sign Jeff Teague, Pritchard highlighted how strong Teague had been, and said the Pacers are “open to negotiations” and a “fair deal.”
  • Pritchard highlighted Lance’s success and quipped,”We all know Lance is crazy.” The Pacers will ask more of him next season when he is fully healthy.
  • Asked about the direction for the team moving forward, Pritchard highlighted his desire to find “physical…tougher…and completely high energy” players. Later he mentioned that he wants “a tougher team.”
  • The Pacers want to develop and retain players, meaning they will need to be paid.
  • Rebuilding is a dirty word in Pritchard’s mind.
  • Asked about coaching, Pritchard highlighted Nate’s toughness and spoke highly of him.

Digesting these comments seem to show a front office that will aim to improve the team next year through finding players in free agency and through trades or the draft that are physical, tough, and have high energy. Pritchard did say that he learned how important continuity is from Bird as well. 

Teague will be given a “fair” deal but could pass that up to take big money elsewhere. The goal is to assemble a Pacers team that is competitive and centered around Paul George, with Pritchard believing if George ultimately shows a desire to leave he will be forthcoming.

The Vertical: Larry Bird stepping down as Pacers president

Larry Bird will be stepping down as Pacers president of basketball operations, Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Kevin Pritchard will take over basketball operations after being Bird’s number two for last few seasons.

Bird will stay on as a consultant with the Pacers, though other teams are already interested in potentially having Bird run their front office.

Bird has stepped down suddenly in the past as well. In 2012, Bird stepped down due to health concerns but came back after just one season absent from the team.

Speculation is rampant about why Bird is leaving now in one of the biggest off-seasons in Pacers history as the Paul-George situation looms large over the organization.

Is it disagreement with ownership? Is Bird the only one in the front office that doesn’t want to trade away Paul George at this point? Or is Larry just being Larry and doing things his way? It’s impossible to know at the moment.

Bird has a press conference scheduled for Monday, so hopefully it’ll be clearer why Bird is stepping down then.

While Bird did many good things during his front office time with the Pacers (drafting Paul George, Myles Turner, Lance Stephenson, signing David West, among others), he had his share of misfires in recent years as well (Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey, Al Jefferson). And while much of the blame for this past season can be put on Larry’s shoulders, this is still somewhat surprising, given the timing.

L2M Report: LeBron traveled before taking go-ahead 3-pointer in Game 4

According to the Last Two Minute Report, LeBron James traveled before sinking his game-winning, series-clinching 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining in Game 4.

What do you think? Would you have called LeBron’s travel here?

It’s not the most obvious call in the world, and one that is rarely called in the NBA. Before dribbling around the screen, LeBron moves his pivot foot, which would technically be a travel.

It was one of only two missed calls that the NBA found. The other was a missed Paul George travel before he took his game-tying attempt with under five seconds remaining.

The Pacers were swept by the Cavaliers by a grand total of 16 points, lowest point differential in a sweep in NBA History.

Pacers down 2-0 after more questionable defensive strategies

The Indiana Pacers kept fighting back even after being down 19 points and made it another close game, but the Cavaliers offense was too much too handle as got their second straight win to open the series by a final score of 117-111.

Paul George had another night where he was rarely stopped, putting up 32 points, seven assists and eight rebounds despite spending much of the game being double teamed. 

This game got away from the Pacers in the third quarter when Nate McMillan tried to guard Kevin Love with Lance Stephenson. Stephenson picked up a foul on three of four consecutive possessions and allowed Love to score on the other as the Cavs picked the curious choice of a matchup apart over and over again.

After the Pacers finally switched Stephenson off of Love, CJ Miles gave up another bucket before McMillan quit sending guards to guard the All-Star power forward and the 10 straight points put the Cavaliers up 19 points.

Stephenson took the blame saying that the plan was for him to front Love, get help from the weak side. 

“I didn’t do it,” said Stephenson. “It was my fault.” 

It was reminscient of the game one mismatch that the Cavaliers exploited from the Pacers switching Jeff Teague onto LeBron James on pick and rolls. In two close games, questionable defensive strategies have been costly to the Pacers.

The Pacers don’t have a ton of great options against this Cavaliers offense but still some strange choices by the coaching staff to this point.

Kyrie Irving picked apart Teague all night as he went off for 37 points. At the end of the third, he added to Stephenson’s defensive nightmares by hitting a three near the buzzer. 

Stephenson, who played well despite the unfavorable defensive matchup with 13 points and four assists, hit a 3-quarter-court heave at the buzzer but not enough time was left on the clock for him to get the shot off.

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Teague got back as many points as he could with an efficient 23 points on only 12 shot attempts. Thaddeus Young added 16 points on only 11 attempts.

Pacers defense struggled once again as it gave up 55% shooting for the second straight game. Cavaliers also won the rebounding battle and improved their free-throw shooting to 87% (20 of 23) after struggling from the line in game one.

“It’s the little stuff that we’re not doing a great job of controlling,” said George. “That’s the easy 3s and uncontested layups that we’re giving up. We’re just doing a terrible job of getting back and guarding people.”

Pacers fall just short in Game One against the Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers had one goal up one with 20 seconds left with the Indiana Pacers looking for a game-winning shot to steal a game one win on the road: Don’t let Paul George beat you.

Cleveland let George get the ball out of the inbounds play, but quickly double teamed him with LeBron and forced the ball out of his hands.

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C.J. Miles worked himself open and got a very makeable look at the buzzer, but the shot fell short and so did the Pacers attempt at a road upset in the opening game of the series.

George continued his strong play from the end of the regular season with 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but the Pacers were unable to get him a look to win it at the end. George was hoping to get the ball back after passing it to Miles.

“I talked to CJ about that,” said George. “In situations like that, I’ve got to get the last shot.”

The Pacers lost this game by only one point despite the Cavaliers shooting nearly 60% for the vast majority of the game (finished at 54%). 

Repeatedly the Cavs got the Pacers to switch Jeff Teague onto LeBron James in a pick and roll and rarely sent help as James, who added 32 points, 13 assists and six rebounds, picked apart the Pacers defense all game long.

It’s encouraging for the Pacers that they were able to keep the game within reach despite the defensive troubles, but Nate McMillan and his coaching staff will have to make major adjustments before game two if they want to have a chance in the series.

George felt the team didn’t play physically enough or tough enough on defense.

“They walked wherever they wanted to,” said George of the Pacers defensive struggles. “They ran wherever they wanted to. That’s not playoff basketball.”

Offensively, the Pacers were getting whatever they wanted for the majority of the game and it allowed them to always keep the game within reach despite not being able to slow down the Cavalier offense.

Lance Stephenson continues to show his value for the Pacers as he was the Pacers second-leading scorer with 16 points and added seven rebounds and three assists coming off the bench.

With the Pacers down 10 early in the fourth quarter, Stephenson got the Pacers back in it by driving to the basket, finding open teammates or nailing midrange jumpers. It wouldn’t be surprising if Stephenson is a starter for the Pacers again before the end of this series.

The Pacers took a brief lead in the fourth quarter on a three from Jeff Teague, but the Cavs quickly answered with a James driving dunk and a Kyrie Irving jumper to get the lead right back.

Game two of the series is on Monday. Jeff Teague called it a “must-win game” for the Pacers.

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Pacers clinch playoff berth with win, will face Cavaliers

The last Indiana Pacers game I attended this season was against the Timberwolves two weeks ago. Mind you it was Pre-Lance, but it was a uninspiring game to witness in person. 

After the Lance Stephenson acquisition, the 4-game win streak, the playoff race; I knew I had to attend the last game of the season Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. (Thank you for injecting life into this team Paul and Lance.)

Most Pacers fans knew what was at stake. A race for the 7 through 9 seeds dwindled down to three teams and two playoff spots. A Pacers win, and they were in the Playoffs with the 7th seed. A loss, and they would need either a loss from the Bulls (vs Nets) or the Heat (vs Wizards). Turns out, both those teams trailing the Pacers won on Wednesday so the Pacers had to come up with a victory if they wanted this season to continue.

Thankfully the Hawks had already locked up their playoff spot and decided to rest their usual starters. Take a look at this Hawks starting lineup and I dare you not to say, “Who?” at least once. 

Jose Calderon (Still in the league!), DeAndre Bembry, Kris Humphries (also still in the league?), Ersan Illyasova, and Taurean Prince. We’ll call them the B-Team. No Millsap, Hardaway, Dennis, Bazemore or Howard. Thank you Hawks.

The game was relatively close through the first quarter with the Pacers having a slight advantage and stayed that way through the second. But the Pacers came out of Halftime on a mission to wrap up their playoff berth. The Pacers lead by as much as 18 pts. The Pacers were lead in scoring by Paul George’s 32 pts and 11 rebs (ALL NBA!) and 19 / 18 pts respectively from Jeff Teague and Myles Turner.

Jeff Teague appeared to roll his ankle late in the fourth, but came out after the game to sign autographs. The assumption is it is not serious, fingers crossed.

Atlanta was paced by Illyasova’s 15 pts. The Hawks B-Team put up a fight near the end to bring the lead down to 9 in the 3rd, but the Pacers rallied back behind their fearless leader. The Pacers continue to have trouble defending the 3-point line giving up open 3s. PG ended the season with career highs in points (23.7 ppg), field goal percentage (46.1%), 3-point percentage (39.4%), and free-throw percentage (89.8%). Someone wants that ALL NBA spot.

Highlight of the game. Watching the budding relationship between Kevin Seraphin and Lance Stephenson running the pick’n roll. It could be a force going forward.  Oh and count’em. Two whole TEAGUES on the Teague counter for drawing fouls on jump shots.

Tune in Saturday at 3pm on ABC (PRIMETIME!) as the Pacers travel to Cleveland to play LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Here we go.