Fort Wayne Mad Ants add Tyler Hansbrough and Marquis Teague

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers affiliate in the DLeague) acquired two new players with Indiana connections this week in Tyler Hansbrough and Marquis Teague.  Both are trying to restart their careers by going through the Development League. 

First on March 1st: Tyler.

Pacer fans remember Psycho-T well when he was selected 13th overall in the 2009 draft and played four seasons in Indianapolis. After Indiana he made stops in Toronto 2013-2015 and Charlotte 2015-2016. In his first game with the Mad Ants, Tyler played 17 mins, going 1-6 from the field with 7 rebs and 8 pts. We’ll see if his crazy hustle can earn him a call back up to the big league at some point.

Then on March 2nd: Marquis.

Marquis is the younger brother of Pacers point guard Jeff Teague. He was drafted in 2012 with the 29th pick by the Chicago Bulls. He’s bounced around a lot with stops in the DLeague with the Iowa Energy, NBA with the Brooklyn Nets, back to the DLeague with the Oklahoma City Blue, then onto Europe. Most recently playing for the Israeli team Ironi Nahariya and the Russian team BC Avtodor Saratov. Like Tyler, we’ll see if his time back stateside will turn any NBA heads looking to shore up their backup PG spot.

Regardless, fans in the Fort Wayne area (or on an off Pacers night) should make the trek up I-69 and catch a Mad Ants game before the season wraps up. 

The Mad Ants are currently 2nd in the Central Division at 22-15 and on a 3-game winning streak. There are only five Mad Ants home games left this season and a lot of talent to see. Jarrod Uthoff has been turning some heads with his play lately and may earn a 10-day deal from someone before the end of the season.

 

 

Should Rakeem Christmas remain in the rotation?

With a 31-30 record, the Indiana Pacers currently occupy 7th place in the Eastern Conference standings.  If the team wants to make a push for a higher seed in the playoffs, these remaining 21 games are of the utmost importance.  

As the playoffs get closer, the Pacers and other teams will be looking to solidify their rotations.  Since the All-Star break, Rakeem Christmas has provided a nice boost of energy as the backup center, his effort has been contagious for the bench, and his last name has only added to Pacers’ lore with wonderful (or terrible) Christmas puns.  

Christmas, who was drafted in the 2015 draft by the Timberwolves, traded to the Cavaliers on draft night, and then later traded to the Pacers during the summer for a future 2019 second-round pick that can be traced all the way back to when the Pacers drafted Dale Davis, had yet to receive meaningful minutes on the big stage in his career until now.

The Pacers matchup versus the Memphis Grizzlies on February 24th provided Christmas, who averaged 17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in his senior season at Syracuse, his biggest opportunity to date in just his ninth career game played, and he did not disappoint.

“I’m really proud of Rakeem being called up and he sparked us and played huge minutes,” said 4-time All-Star Paul George after the Christmas debut.  “It’s a tough task playing against Zach (Randolph) and Marc (Gasol), but he did an unbelievable job.  I thought he could have helped us a lot earlier.”

With veteran Al Jefferson unable to suit up due to dental pain, Christmas filled in. The athletic center played 14 solid minutes while posting four points, five rebounds and a block.  These are not eye-popping numbers, but the energy Christmas provided off the bench would help lift his teammates to victory over the Grizzlies, ending a then 6-game losing streak.

“I’ve been waiting on him,” said Glenn Robinson III, the newly minted NBA Slam Dunk Champion. “I think the whole team has been waiting on him to make the move.  I don’t know why they don’t play him.  He screens, he rebounds.  It’s crazy, like signing a dude for (two) years and don’t play him.  I’m just happy he did his thing.”

Since joining the rotation against the Grizzlies, Christmas, who was a D-League All-Star last season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, has appeared in four consecutive games. Christmas has averaged the following stats per game in this stretch:

15.8 minutes – 58% FG made – 4.8 points 

4 rebounds – 0.75 blocks – 3.5 fouls

While fresh off his inspiring play in his debut, Christmas elaborated, “I just wanted to come out and do what I do.  That’s what I did and that boosted everyone’s confidence, and we started enjoying the game and getting after it.  My team has been great, very encouraging for me.  They kept telling me to wait my turn.  Tonight came and it’s been great so far.”

While Christmas struggled in his last game against the San Antonio Spurs with four fouls, three turnovers and only a single point, rebound and block, his first three games were impressive for a player in his first meaningful time on the court. Against the Houston Rockets, Christmas put up a career-high 10 points, three rebounds, and was +19 while on the court.

While playing limited minutes, the talent and desire are there for Christmas.  The biggest hindrance for him receiving more playing time seems to be himself.  If he cannot limit his fouls, then McMillan may not keep him in the rotation.  This has been an issue through his time with the Mad Ants as well.

If Christmas can keep up his tenacity while not fouling as much, he should become a solid staple in the Pacers’ rotation.  The Pacers bench has looked much better without Al Jefferson on the court since Christmas joined the rotation as Rodney Stuckey and Monta Ellis have both played well since the All-Star break as well. This may have something to do with having more of a roll threat in the pick and roll than the slow, plodding Jefferson. The upside for Indiana to play Christmas over Jefferson is clear; by giving Christmas more experience, the Pacers will be better off in the long run.  

Larry’s team + Rakeem’s dream = Larry Christmas!

The Paul George Situation: Should the Pacers be worried?

As the trade deadline was approaching, most Pacers fans expected some smaller moves to be made by the team. Some bench help to keep Paul George happy perhaps.

The Pacers were shopping around their 1st-round pick since it will be in the late teens, early twenties range, and the expectation was that maybe they’d do a similar deal like last year’s draft day acquisition of Thad Young from the Brooklyn Nets.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, the quiet rumblings of Paul George being traded started to become loud shouts. Pacer and NBA fans were glued to Twitter to see what would happen at the Deadline.

This was shocking to the Pacers fan base that has consistently been told that Paul George was not on the market and essentially untouchable. But now the Pacers may trade him? Why would they even consider this? And are some Pacers fans actually on board with getting rid of the superstar?

Let’s break it down the situation and bear with me, this is a bit long.

The Contract:

Paul George’s current contract runs through the 2018-2019 season, but that last season is a player option for George. PG is making $18.1 million this season, and $19.3 million for next year.  Because of the huge increase in the salary cap in the past few seasons (from $70 million in 2015-2016 season to $94 million currently), Paul George will definitely opt out of his current deal after next season and become a free agent as the cap continues to rise.

If for some reason he did keep his player option for that last year, it’d be $20.7 million. Luol Deng and Evan Turner are making more than $18 million per season in this cap climate. It would be a complete shocker if he opted in.

For his new contract (wherever it will be) Paul will fall under the 7-9 year player max bracket or 30% of the cap. So for instance in 2018 he could make $30.6 million for that season. (Up from the 20.7 million he’d make if he doesn’t opt out) Also there is the Designated Player Exception in the new CBA for star players drafted by their teams trying to re-sign them and prevent them leaving like a few stars have in recent years (Durant). Players can sign a 5-year extension on their current deal with their original team, while all other teams have only a max of four years to offer a player in free agency. So the Pacers would get to offer another year of security and $30+ million more than any other team.

(Here comes the math) Per Nat Newell of the IndyStar on Dec 15 2016 in his article entitled What does the new CBA mean to the Pacers and Paul George? The league calculates max salaries from a slightly lower figure, roughly $96 million off the cap of $102 million (2018-2019). Another team would be able to start an offer to George at 30 percent of that figure – $28.8 million. The other team can offer a 4.5 percent raise each season: $30.1 million, $31.4 million, $32.7 million for a total of $123 million over four seasons.

The Pacers can offer an extension on George’s $19.3 million contract for 2017-18. If George qualifies for the DPE: The 35 percent offer would be $33.6 million in year one of the new deal (3.5 million more than another team). They can offer 7.5 percent raises over five years: $36.1 million, $38.6 million, $41.1 million and $43.6 million for a total contract of six years, $212.3 million.

In other words, the Pacers can pay George more in year one than another team can pay him in year four. The Pacers would be able to offer $26.4 million more over four years and $70 million more total over 4.5 seasons. More in raises and more each year if he stays. But, PG needs to qualify for the DPE first.

For Paul to qualify for the new DPE he has to have on his resume either a MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, or one of three All-NBA teams the previous season he signs. OR been on All NBA/DPOY in two of the previous three seasons, or MVP once. We all know he has never been MVP or DPOY but he has made All-NBA teams. All-NBA 3rd team in 2013, 2o14, and 2016. 2015 being the season lost due to the broken leg injury.

That leg injury could end up costing PG a lot of money since he needs two All-NBA teams in three seasons. So two of three in these years: 2015, 2016, or 2017. Paul has to make an All-NBA team this year to qualify and chances right now are slim. Go through the Forwards in the NBA right now LeBron/Kawhi, Durant/Green, Butler/Hayward, along with guys like Millsap, Anthony Davis now at the four spot because of the Boogie trade, Melo? The top six spots will be tough to crack for George this season. Even with an injury to a top player like Durant, it’s going to be a challenge.

This should make the Pacers worried. They will no longer have that trump card to offer an extension to George this off-season and would have to hope that he qualified next season before he becomes a free agent.

If he doesn’t, then the field is more level between what Indiana can offer and what all the other teams can offer. I asked Steve Kyler from Basketball Insiders on Twitter what the Pacers can do if PG doesn’t land on an All-NBA team.

Basically the Pacers have some room to play. They can offer slightly larger annual raises and an extra contract year but that normally is minimal when we’re talking this kind of money with the cap on the rise each season. The same advantages home teams have wasn’t enough to get Durant to stay in OKC either.

The biggest card the Pacers have is to convince Paul to pick up his player option in 18-19 then they’ll increase his salary next year (renegotiate the team cap) in 17-18 by $11 million or the amount he would get if he signed a new contract under the new CBA cap.

Re-negotiation on this front by adding more years (up to the 2018-19 season) would also put Paul into the 10+ years veteran bracket when this new contact is done, which makes him entitled to 35% of the cap then and even more money. Paul was drafted in 2010 so his 2019-20 contract would fall under the 10+ year vet.

Kyler feels if the Pacers keep PG and are not able to re-sign due to the DPE requirements, it’s a Kevin Durant situation all over again. Not enough money in the end to matter when the situation for a finals run isn’t there.

The Pacers then have two options with George without the DPE:

  1. Trade him.
  2. Try and re-sign him, but risk him leaving for nothing.

Option 1: Trade Paul George. Many different times that this could potentially happen before he hits free agency. You could do it during off-season, closer to the draft once you know everyone’s draft order, or wait until next year’s trade deadline. There is the threat too however of teams knowing he won’t resign with the Pacers so they won’t offer very much to trade for him when they know they can just wait till he’s a free agent.

If Paul doesn’t want to stay, then the Pacers have to get something for him without seeing him walk for nothing. The argument though has been brought out that wouldn’t your star employee be more involved in how the business is run if he truly is your future? It didn’t seem to be the case during the deadline.

The Pacers would only trade Paul George if they KNEW he wouldn’t re-sign with them AND the deal for him was massive. Think more on the level of Carmelo Anthony trade than DeMarcus Cousins (thank goodness the Pacers are not the Kings). So maybe all these rumblings this deadline was to get a feel for PG’s market value?

Rumor is Pacers ownership wanted to test the waters to see PG’s value and Larry Bird swatted away any true offers. It was going to take a massive offer to make him pull the trigger this year.

The deadline revealed that the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics were all interested in Paul George. So many options out there but so long to go before any of them could happen that we’ll save the analyzation of potential deals for another time. But I’ll just leave this little tweet here that does not help the Pacers leverage situation if they do end up trading him down the line.

There are limited teams out there with the assets to trade for Paul let alone be in the mix for a championship as was discussed earlier. Paul is 26 and his prime is right now. He doesn’t have the time to sit through a 5-year rebuild (which makes the Lakers a curious choice for him). If the Pacers trade him, it needs to be a team he’ll want to re-sign with who he views as being in an immediate contending situation for the Pacers to get the best possible deal.

Option 2 – Re-sign PG. The Pacers preferred option, but one that also includes the risk of him leaving for nothing. Remember this is if Paul George doesn’t end up qualifying for the DPE and the money difference is minimal. The Pacers want to keep him obviously. It all comes down to the Pacers individual cap space and how much Paul does love the situation in Indiana. He could end up going to another team and leaving the Pacers with nothing in return, and after watching Kevin Durant do that to the Thunder last summer, the Pacers will do everything they can to prevent that from happening to this franchise.

The Pacers do have some things going in their favor: PG does want to bring a championship to Indiana and has said in the past that he wants to be bigger than Reggie Miller here. But George added the caveat that he wants to contend for a title like when they were in the Eastern Conference Finals two straight seasons. That’s the biggest key to this puzzle if the Pacers want to re-sign him without the DPE: building this team into a contender quickly. Bird will his work cut out for him this off-season as he tries to get this team out of mediocrity and back into the business of challenging LeBron in the East.

You don’t need to be in a major market to have a ‘brand’ and George has proven that already. Paul has his PG1 shoe coming out from Nike. He’s one of only four players to have a signature shoe deal with Nike (Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving). His other partners include Gatorade, Papa John’s, Fanatics, FanDuel, NewEra, Bass Pro Shops, and 2K Sports. All from little ole Indiana.

Salary cap space won’t be an issue that they have to worry about. Right now, the Pacers team payroll is around $87 million (cap at $94 million and rising for next year). With Free Agents Aaron Brooks and Jeff Teague (re-sign please). A few players have team options: Lavoy Allen, Joe Young and Glenn Robinson III. Some have player options: Stuckey and CJ Miles. You will have to watch a few of those guys walk but you’ll still have the space left to sign both Teague this off-season and PG next season if need be.

It should be a very interesting next year in Naptown as Bird tries to build a roster to that can convince George to stay or trades away his superstar as a new era begins for the Pacers.

Two-Minute Quick-Cap: Pacers at Spurs

When Gregg Popovich gets a technical foul in the first few minutes of the game, you are required to pay close attention to every play afterwards­—this is known as the “Pop’s serious” rule and to not follow it results in the karmic loss of basketball fan points.  Against Pop’s seriousness, though, the Pacers looked solid throughout the game with bursts of (dare I say it?) consistent play on both ends.  Sure, there were times when things looked bad—Stuckey dribbling the ball off his foot, Séraphin attempting to murder fans with a wild pass, Thad having maybe his worst game of the season as he seemed to be struggling with his wrist injury, some sketchy touch fouls (and a big late no call)—but this team is clearly playing better.

The second half had Pop call a timeout within the first minute after a pass by Thad found 3J wide open in the corner.  The next Pacers possession had Teague find 3J.  I imagine Pop’s seriousness was hurt. Spurs being the Spurs, defense and big shots eliminated the Pacers lead and a back and forth ensued through the game’s final seconds. 3J hit another huge 3 late in the fourth (this of the banked-in desperation variety), PG had a big steal in the final 90, but Ellis missed TWO free throws with nine seconds remaining and the Pacers up just one. This led to the Pacers leaving San Antonio with a loss following Kawhi’s game-winning shot over PG with 2.4 seconds remaining. Final: 99-100. My heart: 0-1.

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.

Christmas in February: Pacers beat the Grizzlies, end losing streak

After an eventful (on Twitter anyway) trade deadline, the Pacers returned home after the All Star break with an un-changed team to play the Memphis Grizzlies and won by a final score of 102-92 as they ended their six-game losing streak.

Pacers fans showered superstar Paul George with cheers during his introduction, showing how glad they to see him still in a Pacers uniform.

George heard the extra cheers during introductions and appreciated hearing it from the fans.

George still was in a bit of a shooting slump as he made only 3 of 12 shots for nine points and added nine rebounds, but tonight it didn’t matter.

Thaddeus Young made his return to the lineup as well after missing eight games with a wrist injury, and man were the Pacers glad to see him back. His energy and hustle were a big difference maker that the team had missed during the losing streak. He finished the game with 10 points on 5-7 shooting with five rebounds, a block and a steal.

The game was close early but the Pacers took control in the second quarter and snapped their 6-game losing streak against the #6 seed in the West. 

After the game was tied at 29 – 29, the Pacers pulled ahead and led by 27 points at one point and never trailed again. They won the second and third quarters by a combined score of 64-42.

The biggest surprise/revelation of the game: the bench and defense. The Pacers bench scored 44 points tonight, led by Monta Ellis with 16 points and Lavoy Allen with a double double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Pacers defense held the Grizzlies to 41.7% from the floor while shooting 51.3% themselves.

The stellar bench play started with Rakeem Christmas, who had only played 23 minutes his entire season. Christmas came off the bench due to Al Jefferson being a late scratch due to ‘dental pain.’ Christmas played well in his 13 minutes, rolling to the basket (something the Pacers bigs are lacking) and attacking for rebounds.

Even though Rakeem only had four points and five rebounds, he was very active with his time of the floor. He’s still got to control his fouling issues, but he was a big boost to the second unit.

On a night when the top scorer was CJ Miles with 17 points, the bench play was a great boost. Maybe the Pacers didn’t need to trade anyone and just needed a kick in the pants (aka trade rumors) to get things rolling.

On the other side of the ball, the Grizzlies never established a game plan. Their leading scorer was Troy Daniels with 13 points. Outside of the occasional flash of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, or Vince Carter, they didn’t seem to have the firepower tonight to overcome the Pacers.

Jeff Teague added a double double of 10 points and 10 assists. Myles Turner added 12 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

The Pacers play again tomorrow night against the Miami Heat who are sitting in 10th in the East right now. This will be game one of a 5-game road trip for the Pacers. Miami is 8-2 in their last 10 and one of the hottest teams in the league. Hopefully the Pacers came come out and play a similar game plan Saturday night in Miami.

The Pacers win tonight clinches a Pacers winning home-record for the 28th straight season, which is the longest streak in the NBA.

This was the fourth Hickory Night of the season. A Hickory Night that had lots of Indiana High School history on the floor. For Memphis – Mike Conley (Lawrence North HS) & Zach Randolph (Marion HS) for the Pacers – Jeff Teague (Pike HS) & Glenn Robinson III (Lake Central HS).

George also introduced these shoes. (Count me as 1st in line once these come out):

Rumor Rundown: Paul George situation, Pacers trade targets

Larry Bird has been busy working the phones as the trade deadline approaches. While no deals seem imminent, lots of rumors have spread about the Pacers and what they’re looking to do before the deadline.

First, it was reported that the Pacers have been shopping their first-round pick to see if they can get a rotation-level player to help the Pacers push farther into the playoffs, and players like Brook Lopez and Jahlil Okafor have been mentioned in the past couple days.

The Indy Star reported just last night that the Pacers were still looking to add a rotational player and that Paul George would not be traded, which lined up with countless other reporters saying that the Pacers were not interested in dealing George. Nate Taylor said that his sources all told him they were looking to build around George, Jeff Teague, and Myles Turner.

Today, the Woj bomb dropped.

The Pacers are assessing the trade market for Paul George. What? What?? This hasn’t been in line with anything we’ve heard from many reliable sources in the past few weeks where the answer has always been that the Pacers were not taking calls on George or looking to trade him. But when Woj and The Vertical reports something, it makes you question everything.

Sam Amick of USA Today reported that George met with Herb Simon, Pacers owner, during the All-Star break over dinner and reiterated his position that he wants to stay in Indiana, but only if they’re contending for a title. This is something George has said since August, so it should be no surprise. George wants to be bigger than Reggie Miller, but he also wants to do that by doing the thing Reggie could never do: win a title.

The Indy Star’s Taylor says that the dinner was “celebratory and not George delivering an ultimatum.”

Even so, this has seemed to lead Bird to test the waters on what they could get for Paul George, but the deal doesn’t seem to likely to happen at the deadline according to multiple news sources seen in the tweets below. Still, it’s a big step from “untouchable” to “gauging the market.”

https://twitter.com/HPbasketball/status/834552178488520704

Meanwhile, the Pacers are still looking for options to add a rotational piece to the team for this season. Amick reported the Pacers are showing interest in Okafor, Aaron Afflalo of the Kings and Ed Davis and Allen Crabbe of the Trailblazers. Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee also reported of the Pacers interest in Afflalo.

Both Afflalo and Crabbe could help with the lack of wing depth on the Pacers, but Crabbe just signed a mammoth contract last off-season that has him making $18.5 million per season and Afflalo is a less-appealing get from the Kings than Ben McLemore. McLemore has the rest of this season left on his rookie deal and will be a restricted free agent next year, while Afflalo is much older and on a 2-year deal worth $25 million.

None of these players are likely to convince George that they’re ready to contend for a title this season, so the Pacers will be pressured this summer to further add to the team in order to be ready to contend as George approaches unrestricted free agency in 2018 when he opts out of his current contract.

If the Pacers don’t feel like they’ll be able to do enough during the off-season to get to the point where they are ready to contend by 2018, that may be when they start to look more seriously at trading George and rebuilding around Turner and Teague. Gauging the market now gives them some idea of what they’ll be able to get if that’s the road they choose down the line.

George did tell reporters after the Pacers first practice back from the All-Star break that he “would love to” finish his career in Indiana, he expects to be in a Pacers uniform after the deadline has passed tomorrow and that his sole focus right now is getting this team back on track for the rest of the season.

The Pacers will also have a lot of reasons for George to want to stay in he makes an All-NBA team either this year or next as he would qualify for the Designated Player Extension that would push a potential extension over $200 million. If he does not make the All-NBA team in the next two years, his max number would only be around $120 million. The DPE goes away if George is traded.

 

 

 

Rumor: Pacers targeting Jahlil Okafor

Another day, another Pacers trade rumor: Ramon Shelburne of ESPN reported this morning that the Pacers are targeting Jahlil Okafor of the Philadelphia 76ers. Yesterday, it was Brook Lopez being mentioned as a target of the Pacers.

Okafor has been the subject of trade rumors every so often basically since he was drafted by the 76ers thanks to their plethora of young centers in Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, and Okafor.

Okafor was taken third overall in last year’s draft and has plenty of offensive post skills. So far in his career, he seems like a player born into the wrong era. In 23 minutes per game this season, he’s averaging 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds.

This would continue the trend of Bird acquiring players that can score without much thought as to how they actually fit in with the roster.

Shelburne doesn’t give any details about what the Pacers would be offering in this deal, but a best guess would probably be something like Al Jefferson and a first-round pick for Okafor. This would not seem to fix any of the Pacers existing problems however as Okafor seems to be a poor-man’s Al Jefferson when it comes to statistics at this point in their careers.

The hypothetical deal I put out there (Al and a mid-to-late round first for Okafor) might not even be enough for the Sixers to want to pull the plug on their top draft pick from just one year ago anyway. A deal that already looks questionable at best in terms of fit gets worse if they have to give up more than that (unless more is Monta Ellis and his contract).

Jefferson is a more efficient scorer in the post and Okafor’s not any better than Big Al on defense. Okafor has plenty of time to grow as he’s only in his second season in the league, but the trade seems a little too familiar to the Pacers getting another former high pick from the Sixers at the deadline that they were ready to give up on: Evan Turner. We all know how that worked out.

 

 

Rumor: Pacers trying to trade for Brook Lopez

Amidst all the DeMarcus Cousins craziness last night, another trade rumor popped up on Pacers fans timelines.

The rumored trade from Vecsey is that the Pacers would deal away their recently acquired Al Jefferson, the oft-injured Rodney Stuckey, and their first-round pick that they’ve been shopping around to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez.

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The Pelicans were also in the running according to Vecsey, but it seems they will probably be out now that they’ve acquired Cousins. The Celtics are also interested.

Lopez wouldn’t cure everything for the Pacers, but he’s certainly a better player than Jefferson and would help the team’s rebounding and defense. It would also give the Pacers two centers that can stretch the court and shoot threes.

The real question would be how would Nate McMillan adjust the Pacers rotation if they were able to acquire Lopez. Does Lopez start with Myles Turner, who moves to the power forward spot like he often played last season alongside Ian Mahinmi? Does Lopez come off the bench as Thaddeus Young continues to start?

Or do the Pacers go with a super big lineup of Jeff Teague, Paul George, Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner, and Brook Lopez? This lineup is interesting on offense since they have so much size, but every player can also stretch the floor. Defense would be the concern here, but that’s already a major concern with the current Pacers.

If the Nets were more interested in Monta Ellis, the Pacers could also put him in the deal instead of Stuckey and it still works salary wise, though this seems unlikely that the Nets would rather have his more expensive and longer contract. The Pacers might be able to talk the Nets into throwing in a younger prospect like Sean Kilpatrick as it would still be a successful trade, but that may be hoping for too much.

This would be the second year in a row that the Nets would have the Pacers first-round pick in the draft if the deal goes through after the Pacers acquired Young before the draft from the Nets this summer for the 20th overall pick that ended up being Caris LeVert.

Of course, if the Nets were super interested in the deal, it may have already happened by now. We’ll have to wait and see if Larry Bird can find a trade partner before the trade deadline ends to get the Pacers going into the right direction coming out of the All-Star break.

Glenn Robinson III wins 2017 Slam Dunk Contest

Glenn Robinson III knew he wasn’t expected to win last night and tweeted about shocking the world in the weeks preceding the contest.

Mission accomplished: Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest over Derrick Jones Jr., DeAndre Jordan, and Aaron Gordon.

Here’s a look at all of Dunk Dog’s slams and the other competitors top dunks in the contest last night.

Dunk Dog’s speciality was jumping over people. His first dunk was a nice display of showmanship as he faked like he was ready to go and then made it a little harder two times before going up and over two guys.


Robinson immediately showed that he was here to win as he looked to camera after this dunk as if to say, “What are you surprised?” The judges gave him a 50.


GR3’s next dunk was an underrated effort where he did a 360 windmill with a dab at the end (bit of a Dee Brown ode with the dab). The replays made this one better than it looked originally.


King Glenn III jumped over Paul George on his third dunk and probably least impressive of the night. Still earned him a 44 and after Jones Jr. failed to make his first dunk, GR3 had an easy path to victory.

Robinson finished off the contest as it should be with a 50 to crown himself as king.

He jumped over Paul George, Boomer, and a Pacemate and dunked the ball reverse. This was the second dunk where it looked like he was going to hit his head on the rim.

We’ll have an all-time Pacers dunks in a dunk contest ranking for you later on today. GR3 is sure to be on the list.

Top 10 Indiana Pacers Dunks in a Slam Dunk Contest

You may be curious after watching Glenn Robinson III’s amazing Saturday night in the Dunk Contest how many Pacers have ever competed, let alone won, a dunk contest in the past besides Trey Dog (who I incorrectly gave only a 20% chance to win). Over the 31 years of the contest including one ABA, seven different Pacers in addition to King Glenn III have competed in the NBA Contest. Zero in the one year the ABA had their contest in 1976 before the merger. Pacers ABA legend Darnell ‘Dr Dunk’ Hillman won the first NBA dunk contest in 1977 but it was a very different season-long contest back then. All 30 teams had a representative and competed one-on-one in a bracket like challenge. Until last night, Dr. Dunk had never received a trophy for the contest, but did get a check for around $15,000.

Here’s my ranking of the top-10 dunks by a Pacers player in the dunk contest:

Let the countdown commence. And feel free to let me know where I’m wrong on Twitter @TheCorner3Ross.

#10 2013 Gerald Green: The Double Dunk

He didn’t complete it till after his buzzer so it didn’t count but the idea was impressive: cut off the net, dunk, catch the ball with the other hand, and dunk it again, all in the air during one jump.

#9 2012 Paul George: Larry Bird Sticker Dunk

Slap a sticker on on end of the backboard and dunk on the opposite end. Points for the prop. Nothing fancy on the dunk. PG took more attempts than he had stickers unfortunately.

#8 2001 Jonathan Bender Left-Hand from the Foul Line

For how long he is, it should’ve been from further away. Sadly like much of Bender’s career, his performance was a disappointment. At least he didn’t get hurt!

#7 2012 Paul George Glow-in-the-Dark Dunk

He should’ve just done it with the lights on in my opinion. This is one of the dunks that Vince Carter did in his iconic 2000 Slam Dunk performance. And as @its_whitney brought out on Twitter, he should’ve had a glow-in-the-dark ball to wrap it all together.  #MissedOpportunity

#6 2012 Paul George dunk over Roy Hibbert. 

Hibbert is 7’2″. Yes, Roy ducked a bit and PG used his hand but still impressive nonetheless. Originally Dahntay Jones was throwing a pass to George, but he couldn’t get it completed.

#5 2013 Gerald Green Off the Side of the Backboard

Lance Stephenson’s always looking for an easy assist, and no one dunks with ease and force like Gerald Green.

#4 2017 Glenn Robinson III Over PG, Boomer & a Pacemate

Over one All-Star, one mascot, and a cheerleader backwards slam. It clinched him the contest.

#3 2014 Paul George 360 Through the Legs

In my opinion, this should have won him the best dunker crown in this strange conference battle dunk contest.

#2 2004 Fred Jones bounce alley-oop reach back

The Dunk that won him the contest and made him the first Pacers player to do so. Thank goodness he threw himself a terrible pass that made this dunk awesome.

#1 Glenn Robinson III’s 2017 Opening Dunk

Left hand over two people while his head almost hits the rim. Just nuts. I hope there is a shirt with this on it soon. He earned every bit of this championship. Way to go, King Glenn III.

Just missed the cut: All of Terence Stansbury’s dunks (there are some really good ones), GR3’s 360 Dab Dunk, Kenny Williams, and Antonio Davis. (Videos below of some of their dunks)

A brief history of Pacers past performances in the dunk contest:

The very first Pacer in the Dunk contest came early in 1985 & 1986 Terence Stansbury. He competed two years for the Pacers and one for Seattle. He made the Semi-Finals both times with the Pacers but lost out to Dominique Wilkins at home in Indianapolis in 1985 and Spud Webb the following year in 86.

1991 saw Kenny Williams compete for the Pacers in Charlotte for the Dunk Contest. Kenny would not make it out of the first round finishing 5th overall. The overall champ that year was Dee Brown of the Celtics.

Now we get into some names most fans remember. The next Pacer to compete was a Davis brother. Antonio Davis in 1994. AD didn’t make it out of the first round either, finishing 5th. Maybe being ‘penalized’ for being the big in the group. The champ that year was Isaiah Rider.

Oh what could have been for the next Pacer contestant: the Pre-Durant, Durant style player. In 2001, Jonathan Bender competed for the Pacers. His length and versatility should’ve equated to amazing things on the court, but Bender’s knees never cooperated for very long. Bender didn’t make it out of the first round either, finishing 5th (I’m seeing a pattern here). The champion that year was Desmond Mason.

All these 5th place finishes. Would a Pacer ever do well in this contest? In 2004, with a field of four players, the Pacers Fred Jones showed that he could. In maybe one of the weaker dunk contests to date, Indiana Jones bested the two-time defending champ Jason Richardson for the title spot with two 50-point dunks on his way to victory.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of Fred Jones but maybe the voters were tired of J-Rich.  But a W is a W. There has only been one 3-time champ at the Dunk Contest and that was Nate Richardson. So J-Rich had an uphill battle.

The next time we saw a Pacer in the Dunk Contest was Paul George in 2012 under a new format. Paul George competed twice (again in 2014). The champ would be decided entirely by fan voting this year. PG came out strong with dunks over Roy Hibbert (7’2″). Followed by his glow-in-the dark jersey dunk (would’ve been cooler in the light) and ended with the sticker on the backboard other side of the rim dunk.

Sadly the fans voted incorrectly. As they normally do when given the power for the All Star Game (I’m looking at you Zaza Pachulia). PG unbelievably finished only 3rd with 24% of the vote. Brief former Pacers bested George in the fan vote: Jeremy Evans got 29% and Chase Budinger got 28%.

In 2013 Gerald Green competed in his third contest with his third team. An impressive alley-oop off the side of the backboard from Lance Stephenson followed by an ambitious dunk he wasn’t able to put down. He cut off the net so that he could dunk the ball, catch it with his off hand and dunk the ball again. He wasn’t able to complete it and scored low, unable to advance. The winner that year was Terrance Ross.

Paul George would come back two years later in 2014. Again though, the NBA tweaked its format. A team format was adopted. 1st round was freestyle followed by one-on-one battles. PG was teamed up with the East consisting of Terrence Ross and John Wall. The East won the night but John Wall was voted as the Dunker of the Night (by the fans).

Finally this year, I hope most of you were able to watch. 2017 Glenn Robinson III wanted to #Shocktheworld and man did he do so. While the competition wasn’t the same level as years past, Glenn capitalized. With Aaron Gordon fizzling out in the first round and Glenn scoring a 50 with his first dunk. He was easily into the final round and sealed the deal jumping over three people in an impressive fashion, bringing home the Pacers second-dunk title and a nice $100,000 for his victory.

Pacers dunkers are a combined 2-9 all time in the contest. We’ll see if GR3 comes back next year to defend and become the first Pacers Dunking Dynasty.

Dunk Contest Preview: Glenn Robinson III wants to shock the world

The NBA All-Star weekend’s premiere event is rapidly approaching on Saturday night: The Verizon Slam Dunk contest. The Pacers will be represented by Glenn Robinson III as he goes up against Derrick Jones Jr., DeAndre Jordan, and last year’s runner-up Aaron Gordon. Here’s a look at what each contestant brings to the table and their odds of winning:

https://twitter.com/TheCorner3Show/status/832237818705539073

DeAndre Jordan: The 6’11” first-time All-Star Center for the Los Angeles Clippers. Jordan continues the recent trend of having at least one big man in the field. (2016 Andre Drummond; 2015 Mason Plumlee).  Continue reading Dunk Contest Preview: Glenn Robinson III wants to shock the world

The Day After the Brawl: This Picture is Worth a Thousand Words #3

In case this is your first time here, here’s the concept of This Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: I take an interesting picture from the history of the Indiana Pacers from ABA glory to the modern era and literally write 1,000 words about the photo.

If you missed the first and second of the series: Here’s my analysis of Reggie-Miller-tortured Knicks fans and here’s a look at Roger Brown and the ABA days.

My 1,000 words start now:

First, it is extremely hard to find pictures for this game, so this will kind of be “the box score is worth a thousand words” this time around with a couple of pictures sprinkled in.

Could you tell what game this is from just the Pacers side of the box score?  Continue reading The Day After the Brawl: This Picture is Worth a Thousand Words #3

Jermaine O’Neal & Myles Turner make summer plans

Earlier today, former Pacers star Jermaine O’Neal sent a tweet to Myles Turner, offering to work with him this summer on his post game and gave some praise to the 20-year-old phenom for how he plays the game.

Myles Turner responded back with a resounding “Hell yeah!”

O’Neal said he’s looking forward to working with him and ended his last tweet with “#PacerForLife.”

This is great news for Pacers fans. Turner already has Al Jefferson to learn tricks from in the locker room and always seems to be eager to learn from others.

O’Neal is the best Pacers post player in their NBA history and can certainly teach Turner a thing or two in the mid/low post area. Turner’s bread and butter will always be that smooth stroke that goes beyond the 3-point line, but the more he improves in the post, the tougher matchup he’ll be. Maybe one day Turner will put up a 50-point game like JO’s 55-point night.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=s7_MOYSo6hQ

While O’Neal didn’t get the bobblehead night for the 2000s teams for the Pacers decade games this season, it can easily be argued it should have been him over Danny Granger. The Pacers still seem reluctant to celebrate anything about the teams from the brawl era, so it’s good to see that O’Neal still considers himself part of the Pacers family after all this time.

All-Star weekend will feature Glenn Robinson III and Myles Turner

The Pacers will have some representation at this year’s All-Star weekend events.

Glenn Robinson III has been selected to participate in this year’s dunk contest according to The Vertical, and Myles Turner will play for the U.S. squad in the Rising Stars game (formerly known as the rookie-sophomore game).

Last year’s dunk contest was one of the best of all-time, so GR3 will have to rise to the occasion to help match the incredible performances that Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon had last year. No word yet on if those two will be among the participants this year.

Myles Turner said that playing in the Rising Stars game was one of his goals this year after being disappointed in not making it last season. Turner dealt with a thumb injury early in his rookie season which caused him to be overlooked for the contest last year. Now, Turner is being recognized as one of the best young players in the game while being part of a loaded draft class.

Paul George will likely join the two down in New Orleans as an All-Star reserve, but the All-Star teams have not been announced yet.

Paul George should be VERY happy with the new CBA

A new CBA agreement was tentatively reached last night between the NBA and the NBA Players’ Union. One new detail in the agreement will likely affect Paul George and the Pacers as they try and come to an agreement on an extension to keep George in Indiana next summer.

It will allow teams to designate one veteran player that has achieved certain criteria as a player (Zach Lowe reports that at least one of these will be making an All-NBA team) and offer that player a contract extension that is 35% of the Salary Cap in year one of the extension (30% if he leaves as a free agent with another team) and allows the contract to extend up to 5 years in addition to the one year remaining (4 years is max as a free agent with another team). It also allows the Pacers to increase the salary by up to 7.5% per season, while other teams would be limited to only 4.5% increases.

This amounts to a huge increase for Paul George and other star players like DeMarcus Cousins and Russell Westbrook that will be looking for new contracts in the near future.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders broke down what it would look like for Paul George if he signed an extension under this provision next summer and compared it to what a potential deal would look like if he choose to leave.

Home teams certainly have a lot more money to throw at stars to encourage them to stay and to avoid free agency with the extension now than they ever have. Here’s what Kyler reported George’s contract would roughly look like.

This is big news for small markets that are increasingly losing their marquee players in free agency, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Pacers and their fans as Paul George is locked in for $19.5 million next season (2017-2018) and is expected to opt-out of his contract in the summer of 2018 to become an unrestricted free agent.

 

 

 

 

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.

https://twitter.com/ipacersblog/status/805405313448996866

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.

https://twitter.com/ipacersblog/status/805405313448996866

Paul George gets a banner outside of Banker’s Life Fieldhouse

The Pacers revealed a Paul George, Nike banner outside of Banker’s Life Fieldhouse today a few hours before the 76ers and Pacers square off.

“Shhhhh My Game Is Talking” is on the banner as well as “Come Out of Nowhere.”

Perhaps this banner will coincide with whatever Nike has planned for advertising George’s signature shoe that is rumored to be released sometime next year.

Our Paul George T-shirt sale ends soon! Get $2 off by using the links in these tweets!

Class act: Paul George sends gift to woman hit in face with ball

We’ve all seen the video of Paul George kicking the ball into the stands on accident and apologizing with a hug to a young woman that got hit in the face with the ball. He was ejected from the game. Videos here if you missed it.

Today, we learned that George didn’t just leave it at that. He also sent flowers to the woman, who was actually not a fan but working with the Fox Sports Indiana crew. A very classy gesture from George in what was a worse headline that what actually happened from the beginning.

 

According to Fox 59, the picture was posted by a friend of the woman who was hit on scoial media, she called it a “class act.”

This gesture was rated PG-13 for showing exceptional class.

Paul George kicks ball into a fan’s face, gets ejected

No, for real. This happened. Late in the third quarter after being called for a foul, Paul George kicked in the ball in frustration and it hit a young woman in the face in the stands.

George immediately went over to the young woman, apologized and gave her a hug, but the damage was done as George was ejected from the game. It looked as though George was likely trying to kick the ball against the stanchion, not into the crowd.

“My soccer skills are not as good as I thought,” joked George after the game, who said he apologized and was trying to kick the ball on the mat of the stanchion.

Fortunately, the outcome of the game was not in jeopardy as the Pacers are ahead by over 20 late in the fourth quarter at the time of this post.

Here’s video of the play.

Here’s the apology.

Update: The person hit by the ball was actually a Pacers employee, Lindsey Yeager, working with the television crew for Fox Sports Indiana according to Nate Taylor of the Indy Star.

Update: Paul George also sent the woman flowers to apologize. A classy gesture.