Indiana Pacers Summer League Grades: Who stood out in Game 2?

The Indiana Pacers bounced back from a loss in their first game against the Houston Rockets in the Las Vegas Summer League and defeated the San Antonio Spurs today.

But once again, the results of the game don’t matter in the end. This is all about development and getting introduced to some young Pacers and some NBA hopefuls.

If you missed the grades from Game 1, you can find them here. Quality in some of the clips may be lacking in this one as there’s no great place to get individual plays from Summer League.

Aaron Holiday: C+

Holiday struggled from the field in this one, making only 3 of his 15 shot attempts and is now shooting 40% over the two games (12 of 30). He still showed off his nice shooting form on occassion this afternoon.

Part of his struggles came at the rim trying to finish against some of the Spurs larger guards. This is something that he’ll have to continue to work on though it’s helpful that he’s able to finish with both hands, as he showed in the first game.

Some of his best plays on the day, however, were passing the ball. He finished with 7 assists and was very adept at finding the right guy in transition and making the right pass in the half court.

He still occasionally made poor decisions on passes but lowered his turnovers from 6 in the first game down to 4 in the second. Some of the turnovers are bound to happen as a product of unfamiliarity with teammates in Vegas.

While Holiday is small, he also seems to be around for rebounds often, adding 7 more to his total today.

Defensively, it was a mixed bag. He was inconsistent with his ability to fight over screens and at times relaxed when he thought his work was done only for his man to be immediately involved in the play again.

He also continued to show off his quick hands on that end and added a couple of steals.

Alize Johnson: B+

Alize Johnson was probably the Pacers MVP of the second game. Yes, he only scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds and made only 3 of his 11 shots, but he was a huge difference maker with his high motor and effort in the second half especially.

He was relentless on nearly every rebound. He had four offensive boards but added numerous extra possessions for the Pacers on plays he wasn’t credited with a rebound by just never giving up on the play.

His field goal percentage isn’t as bad as it seems as a few of those attempts he ended up rebounding himself and another was a full-court heave that he nearly made at the end of the first quarter. He did force a couple of bad shots when he tried to do a little too much.

Full write-up on Johnson coming soon but he continued to show great passing ability in transition after grabbing a defensive rebound to start the break, his offense looks farther along than expected, his high motor is as advertised and he can defend multiple positions well with his quick feet.

It’s early, but he looks more and more like a player that deserves to be on the Pacers roster this season.

T.J. Leaf: B

This was the T.J. Leaf that we expected to see at Summer League. He led the team with 17 points and made 7 of his 13 shots. He showed a lot more patience from the beginning of the game compared to the first contest when he seemed to be forcing the action and rushing everything.

He made some really nice drives to the rim by attacking closeouts as seen below though he struggled to recognize when the defender would come up short and hesitated on taking a few open 3-pointers.

He didn’t score after around the 7-minute mark in the third quarter.

On the defensive end, there wasn’t much to like about his performance. It’s unclear what Summer League coach Steve Gansey wants Leaf to do when defending a pick and roll but him playing back has been highly ineffective.

There were multiple plays where Johnson appears to call for a switch or expects one with Leaf but he’s playing so far back and is too slow to react to do anything about it. His foot speed and reaction time on that end still need a lot of work.

There were many occasions of Leaf giving up too much room as Spurs players pulled up and hit jumpers as he offered only a late contest.

After grabbing 10 rebounds in the first game, Leaf hauled in only 2 today.

In game one, we saw the Leaf to be concerned about; in game two, we saw the Leaf we expected. Maybe in game three, we can see some signs of the Leaf that we hope for.

Ben Moore: B+

Moore really showed his skill set against the Spurs. The Pacers started the game off with him guarding Derrick White, who averaged 23/7/7 in the Utah Summer League and looks like a nice player, and Moore held his own pretty well.

White finished with 19 points but made only 6 of his 18 shot attempts and many of his makes came against Holiday and/or Leaf. He seemed much less aggressive when Moore was guarding him.

And after being almost invisible in the first game, Moore was able to contribute offensively as well. He scored 10 points on five shots, hit a corner 3-pointer and added 3 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.

After missing his second 3-point attempt, Moore decided to cut inside on the next one and finished the lob play from Holiday.

Moore never tries to do too much on offense and always plays within himself. He has a high basketball IQ and makes the right pass quickly. Here he takes two dribbles, realizes he isn’t going anywhere and finds an open Holiday for 3.

He’s still got a ways to go on offense (he got blocked at the rim on one attempt that he could have made an easy layup by using the basket as a shield) but this was encouraging for Moore.

This play where Moore jumps into the stands and over the Gatorade shows off his incredible effort. This led to a bucket inside from Alex Poythress and helped seal the game for Indiana late in the fourth quarter.

Other Notes:

  • Edmond Sumner was out with knee soreness today. Scott Agness reported it was not the knee that had the ACL injury so that’s positive. No word on if he’ll be back on Monday.
  • Alex Poythress’s minutes were more limited today, probably losing out some to Johnson, but he was effective while out there, adding 6 points and 3 rebounds with a team-leading +14.
  • C.J. Wilcox was perfect from the field and from the line, scoring 13 points on four shot attempts. He added no other statistics except for a single rebound.

  • Travis Leslie started in place of Sumner and finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds. He also had this impressive dunk.

The Pacers next game in Las Vegas is on Monday at 5 p.m.

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Report: Al Jefferson agrees to deal to play in China

Al Jefferson will sign with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in China according to Sportando.

Jefferson was waived by the Indiana Pacers in order to increase their salary cap space by $6 million earlier this week.

In yesterday’s press conference, Kevin Pritchard mentioned the possibility of Jefferson going overseas to play, saying that he had many conversations with Al after he was waived.

The Pacers signed Kyle O’Quinn as his replacement yesterday.

Indiana Pacers Summer League Grades: Rookies shine in their debuts

The Indiana Pacers lost their opening game in the Las Vegas Summer League the Houston Rockets by a final of 92-89, but the results of the game are meaningless.

Update: Game 2 Grades here

How did the players perform? Here’s some quick grades and recap for how they did in their first game.

Aaron Holiday: B+

Holiday did just about everything you could possibly hope for him to do in his debut. He hit tough shots both inside and out. He moved the ball well, made some nice defensive plays. Most importantly, he looked like an NBA player.

He finished with 23 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals with 9-of-15 shooting from the field. His first three possessions of his career set the tone for his debut: 3-pointer coming off of a screen, deep 3-pointer after crossing up a big on a switch and taking it to the rack and finishing with a difficult left-hand move.

Continue reading Indiana Pacers Summer League Grades: Rookies shine in their debuts

Report: Alex Poythress has been waived by the Indiana Pacers

In a bit of a surprise move before Summer League, the Indiana Pacers have waived Alex Poythress.

It’s unclear if he’ll still play for the Summer Pacers, but he’ll have extra motivation now as he’ll be auditioning for all 30 NBA teams.

Poythress played limited minutes after signing a 2-year deal on December last season. His contract was unguaranteed until later this month. The Pacers could have waited until after the games in Las Vegas to make a decision on his deal but decided to waive him now.

The Pacers could still bring him back on a 2-way deal like he started out last season.

Kyle O’Quinn agrees to 1-year deal with Indiana Pacers

According to multiple media reports, the Indiana Pacers have agreed to a 1-year, $4.5 million deal with center Kyle O’Quinn.

In 18 minutes per game last season, he averaged 7 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists with the New York Knicks.

It’s a surprising move at what looks like the Room Exception as O’Quinn played 99% of his minutes as a center last season according to Basketball Reference and the Pacers have two of those lined up with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis already.

Perhaps the Pacers will look to play him more at power forward this upcoming season. He could even split the backup minutes at power forward with TJ Leaf (if he’s ready to play) depending on the nightly matchup.

“Experienced” Pacers all have something to prove in Summer League

This season the Indiana Pacers start Summer League play Friday at 3:00. This will be the first time they play in Las Vegas as the each NBA team will be participating.

These exhibition games are basically meaningless but not without purpose, especially for the players with varying motivations: proving their worth as a recent draft pick, looking to show how much they’ve improved from their previous season, or just hoping to show they belong in the NBA whether with a roster spot, a 2-way contract or a training camp invite.

In this series of articles coming before Summer League begins for Indiana on Friday, we’ll take a look at many of the players on the roster and what they will be looking to prove in Sin City.

In part one, we looked at the rookies, Aaron Holiday and Alize Johnson, and what to watch for in their professional debuts.

Today, we look at the four players that were members of the Indiana Pacers last season: T.J. Leaf, Alex Poythress, Edmond Sumner and Ben Moore. All four of these players will be in the starting lineup joined by first-round pick Holiday and receive lots of minutes in Vegas. Ike Anigbogu will miss these exhibitions with an injury.

All of these guys have been working out in Indianapolis since the season ended and sound excited to show how they’ve improved and grown.

While it’s important to never overreact positively or negatively to anything that happens in these games, “veterans” in the summer league can make a difference in their careers in both bad and good ways:

  • Solomon Hill played so poorly in his third Summer League by seemingly blowing it off that it may have pushed the Pacers to decline his team option for the fourth season on his rookie contract. It ended up working out pretty well for Hill as he played the best basketball of his life the last few months of that season and hit free agency during the madness of 2016 and got a $50+ million deal from the Pelicans (He hasn’t looked good since joining New Orleans).
  • Glenn Robinson III played very well a few years ago in the Orlando Summer League and solidified his place in the rotation that season and had the best year of his career.
  • Donald Sloan and Rasual Butler both earned roster spots on the team and their auditions both started at the Summer League.

You want to see these guys play above the competition having had the experience of a full season with an NBA team.  Continue reading “Experienced” Pacers all have something to prove in Summer League

What do Aaron Holiday & Alize Johnson need to show during Summer League?

This season the Indiana Pacers will be playing in the Las Vegas Summer League for the first time, joining all the other 29 NBA teams as well.

These exhibition games are meaningless but not without purpose, especially for the players with varying motivations: proving their worth as a recent draft pick, looking to show how much they’ve improved from their previous season, or just hoping to show they belong in the NBA whether with a roster spot, a 2-way contract or a training camp invite.

In this series of articles coming before Summer League begins for Indiana on Friday, we’ll take a look at many of the players on the roster and what they will be looking to prove in Sin City.

For the Pacers 2018 draft picks, Aaron Holiday and Alize Johnson, this will be the first impresssion that many fans have of each player. Rookies are always the main attraction during Summer League so let’s start with them.

Continue reading What do Aaron Holiday & Alize Johnson need to show during Summer League?

Nate McMillan’s advice to Victor Oladipo: Be an A******

Victor Oladipo appeared on Sirius XM NBA Radio and had a conversation with Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson today and shared his experience with Indiana Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan.

“He was awesome,” said Oladipo when asked how good his coach was for him last year. “… He’s honest with me, but at the same time he holds me accountable, tells me what I need to do better.”

In one particular example, Oladipo said that after a road loss to the Detroit Pistons early in the season while they were watching film, Nate gave him some important advice.

“He said, ‘You want to be great?'” Oladipo said. “I said, ‘Of course.’ He was like, ‘Man, you got to become more of an a******. People got to hate being on the floor with you. People got to hate guarding you.'”

Continue reading Nate McMillan’s advice to Victor Oladipo: Be an A******

Reports: Tyreke Evans agrees to 1-year deal with the Indiana Pacers

It had been rumored for about the past 24 hours, but now it’s official: Tyreke Evans is coming to the Indiana Pacers.

The deal will be for one year and $12 million. Evans will give the Pacers the secondary playmaker that they desperately needed last season alongside Victor Oladipo.

Continue reading Reports: Tyreke Evans agrees to 1-year deal with the Indiana Pacers

Report: Al Jefferson has been waived

The Indiana Pacers have waived Al Jefferson according to media reports.

The move will save the Pacers at least $6 million in cap space this season, more if he is waived with the stretch provision.

Jefferson signed a 3-year contract with Indiana to be the backup center to Myles Turner but was a disappointment in his first season and played sparingly in his second as the Pacers third center behind Turner and Domas Sabonis.

His offensive post skills were still evident in his spot minutes but his lack of defense and a rapidly evolving NBA made his skills less useful than with his stints on previous teams.

He did, however, take to the role of veteran mentor to young players on the team and was one of the players that came to Kevin Pritchard at the trade deadline to urge him to keep the group together. His $10 million price tag was too much for the Pacers to hold on to him for that role as they look to add pieces to the roster.

Pritchard had seemed confident the trade market could be an area where Indiana could make some additions but this makes it seem less likely that it’s a route that the Pacers will take. Jefferson could have been an attractive get in a trade for a team looking to create space or avoid the luxury tax.

It’s likely the Pacers shopped his deal around before waiving him outright but must not have been able to find any takers or anyone willing to offer something appealing to Pritchard in return.

Lance Stephenson pens heartfelt farewell to Indiana

“Indiana will always be my home.”

Lance Stephenson said goodbye to Pacers fans on social media after reports that he had signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers and will be teammates with LeBron James.

While I couldn’t be more excited to join the Los Angeles Lakers, I first need to thank Pacer nation for all the love and support over the years. Specifically, I cannot show enough appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Simon, Larry Bird, Kevin Pritchard, Coach McMillan, and all of my teammates. The entire organization stood by me through all of the ups and downs of my career and have played a crucial role in molding me into the man and player that I am today. I will forever be indebted for that unwavering belief in me. Indiana will always be my home, and the Pacers organization will always be my family.

-Lance Stephenson

Stephenson became a free agent after his team option was declined by Kevin Pritchard as they looked to create as much cap flexibility as possible.

So… Lance Stephenson is going to be teammates with LeBron James

LeBron James shook the basketball world by joining the Los Angeles Lakers and now something even more incredible has happened.

He’s going to be teammates with Lance Stephenson.

Acccording to Chris Haynes, Stephenson has agreed to a 1-year, $4.5 million deal with the Lakers and instead of getting on LeBron’s last nerve as an opponent, he’ll now be on the same side as the player who has knocked him out of the playoffs five times.

The whole scenario sounds like some strange idea for a network sitcom where two players with a large backstory of intense playoff moments and hilarity end up on the same team and become friends. Maybe Lance ends up appearing in the rumored Space Jam sequel?

Stephenson was rumored to be a possibility to join the Cavaliers the same season that he ended up rejoining Indiana. The fit next to James is questionable as Stephenson needs the ball a lot to be his best self, but there’s no reason to take possessions away from James. It’ll be entertaining to see how this plays out.

Lance Stephenson said goodbye on Instagram to Indiana.

Stephenson was a free agent because the Indiana Pacers declined his team option for the upcoming season, citing the desire for cap flexibility.

Stephenson was a fan favorite and will go down as an Indiana legend, but it’ll be very strange to see him play by LeBron’s side in a Lakers uniform.

Reports: Glenn Robinson III agrees to deal with Detroit Pistons

According to Shams Charania, free agent Glenn Robinson III has agreed to a 2-year, $8.3 million deal with the Detroit Pistons. The second year is a team option.

The former slam dunk champion missed most of last season with an ankle injury after being a breakout candidate during the summer. He played spot minutes with the Pacers once he returned and was out of the rotation in the playoffs.

Robinson, who will return to the Michigan where he played his college ball, showed flashes of potential as a 3&D player during his time with Indiana, but the preseason injury took away his best opportunity.

Robinson, still just 24, shot 41.3% from 3-point range last season and is a career 38% from distance.

Once the Pacers agreed to a deal with Doug McDermott, it seemed unlikely that the Pacers would be bringing him back, though he never seemed like a large priority for the team this offseason.

ESPN: Indiana Pacers agree to 3-year, $22 million deal with Doug McDermott

ESPN was reporting about five minutes before free agency officially started that the Indiana Pacers had agreed to a 3-year, $22 million deal with sharpshooter Doug McDermott.

McDermott shot 42.9% from 3-point range last season, including nearly 50% while with the Mavericks once he was acquired at the deadline.

The contract is fully guaranteed per Adrian Wojnarowski.

Some early analysis on Dougie McBuckets are available below. Another rumored target Joe Harris secured a similar contract at 2 years, $16 million from the Brooklyn Nets.

Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: Bargains (Part 3)

Free agency is almost upon us. A time of Woj bombs and Shams-wows. A time of the surprising and the predictable.

The Indiana Pacers will be one of few teams with a lot of cap space entering free agency this year and will have plenty of options to pursue.

For perimeter players, we’ve already looked at some players in their prime (Will Barton, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Smart) and some wily old veterans that could serve as valuable role players.

Now, we look at cheaper options for younger players that are still somewhat unproven in their abilities. Some have served as role players in the past; some are still looking for that opportunity and may need more development time. These aren’t guys that are going to get anyone excited, but they might pay dividends.

We’ll start with two players that Indiana is reportedly interested in: Doug McDermott and Joe Harris.

Joe Harris

Harris had a great season with the Brooklyn Nets and made 41.9% of his 3-pointers on the season. He ranked in the 89th percentile in spot-up possessions, 75th percentile while coming off of screens and 84th percentile on hand offs. He’s an efficient shooting machine.

Continue reading Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: Bargains (Part 3)

Rumors: Indiana Pacers interested in Doug McDermott and Joe Harris

ESPN is reporting that with Will Barton likely re-signing with the Denver Nuggets as free agency begins after midnight, the Indiana Pacers will look at free agents Doug McDermott and Joe Harris to add more shooting to the bench unit.

Barton, who is analyzed in the piece below, had been a focus for the Pacers according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

Harris and McDermott would both bring shooting but not much else on the other end of the court. Harris shot 41.9% from deep for the Brooklyn Nets last season and McDermott shot 42.6% between his time with the Knicks and Mavericks last season. More analysis will be available on these two and other somewhat unproven free agents soon.

Report: Free Agent Joe Young gaining interest from overseas

The writing was on the wall for Joe Young after the Indiana Pacers drafted Aaron Holiday and both Cory Joseph and Darren Collison were set to return.

Not much room for four point guards on an NBA roster. Young’s team option was declined by the Pacers and he’s now a free agent.

While NBA free agency doesn’t begin until midnight tonight, at least one team overseas is looking to add Joey Buckets.

Maccabi Tel Aviv is in Israel and plays in the Euroleague. It would seem safe to assume Young is unlikely to take their offer right away and see if any NBA teams are interested in his services first.

The 26-year-old point guard played some of his best basketball when given the chance this season by being a pesky defender and hitting timely shots, but his opportunities throughout his 3-season career with the Pacers were limited and he never was able to earn a permanent spot in the rotation.

Young was always the hard worker and once fell asleep on the practice court.

Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: The Veterans (Part 2)

Free agency is nearly here and the Indiana Pacers are looking to add some players to their surprising roster of last season.

Most of the rotation will appear to be the same, but options will be available for the team to upgrade at some spots.

In Part One, we analyzed in detail rumored targets of Tyreke Evans, Will Barton and Marcus Smart.

In Part Two, we’ll look at the veteran wings that are on the market this offseason that could add some immediate help in the short term while giving the Pacers flexibility to keep cap space in the next couple of years in some cases. Many of these players could probably be signed to deals similar to those of Bojan Bogdanovic and Darren Collison where the second season has a small partial guarantee.

Trevor Ariza

Trevor Ariza is the prototypical 3-and-D wing. He’ll be in his 15th season next year at age 33 with a ton of playoff experience including winning a title with the Los Angeles Lakers nearly a decade ago.

Continue reading Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: The Veterans (Part 2)

Analyzing the Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: Wings (Part One)

As free agency draws near, the Indiana Pacers know that a lot of their players will be back next season. Kevin Pritchard said after the draft that he hoped to bring back the team’s top six or seven players and with Thad Young exercising his player option yesterday, all seven will return: Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Darren Collison, Bojan Bogdanovic and Young.

“They wildly overachieved and they deserve to see if they can build on that,” said Pritchard. “It’s my job to add a few more players, a few more pieces that could help them get past the first round or make the playoffs.”

Even with all those players returning, the Pacers can still create nearly $20 million in space by waiving Al Jefferson and declining Joe Young’s team option after already declining Lance Stephenson’s team option.

With so few teams having available cap space, if the player the Pacers want is out there in free agency, they won’t have a ton of competition for many of the players. For now, let’s look at a few wings that are in the midst of their prime and among the second-tier of free agents (after the superstar level) that have already been connected to Indiana via rumors and see how they could possibly fit on the team.

Continue reading Analyzing the Indiana Pacers Free Agency Options: Wings (Part One)

Woj: Thad Young exercises his player option, will remain with the Pacers

ESPN reports that Thad Young will opt into the final year of his contract to remain with the Indiana Pacers and will not be a free agent this offseason.

Young seemed a little frustrated with the lack of a long term deal on the table from the Pacers with a few tweets on draft night.

It appears that Thad’s desire to remain in the Pacers locker room trumped wanting more security as he enters this next season at 30 years old.

In an interview with Alex Kennedy shortly after the offseason began, Young talked a lot about next year with the Pacers, making it clear that he’d like to be back, even if he hadn’t made a decision on his option at that time.

Man, I think the sky is the limit for us. As a team, we’re already pretty good, but I think we’ll be so much better entering next season because we’ll all have another year of experience under our belt and we won’t be a new look team that just got together anymore. … Next year, it should be 10 times easier. There’s not much learning and acclimating that we’ll need to do; we can just pick up right where we left off and focus on getting better.”

https://twitter.com/ipacersblog/status/991075158289997825?s=21

Young’s final year is worth $13.7 million. The Pacers still have about $20 million in cap space if they waive Al Jefferson.

Earlier today, Indiana was rumored to be interested in making a large offer to RFA Aaron Gordon, but with Young opting in, the question will be if the Pacers interest remains in the 22-year-old forward.

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