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Pacers Press Conference Translator: Breaking down what to believe and what’s P.R. speak

The Indiana Pacers have had plenty of press conferences lately, but should we believe everything that’s been said?

Today, we’re not here to call anyone liars, but it’s easy to forget there are always public relations elements to running a basketball organization like the Indiana Pacers.

Sometimes, you’ve got to massage the message when you’re talking about things. Sometimes it may sound overly optimistic, but that doesn’t make it a lie. Just perhaps means a difference of opinion — a glass-half-full vs half-empty sort of situation.

We’ll call out lies if we see them, but in general basketball teams don’t need to lie as much as they need to handle the egos of situations to make sure someone isn’t pissed off for no reason — unless you’re in the Larry Bird school of public relations.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of Kevin Pritchard and the Pacers’ more recent statements and decided just how truthful they are, and how much is simply public relations speak.

One of the franchise’s best days?

Was acquiring Malcolm Brogdon one of the best days in the franchise’s history? Continue reading Pacers Press Conference Translator: Breaking down what to believe and what’s P.R. speak

Breaking down what T.J. Warren brings to the Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers new acquisition T.J. Warren brings a versatile scoring ability that should give his new team a boost offensively next season. In a deal that came as a surprise, Warren’s production eerily matches his predecessor in the starting lineup and he’ll have his first opportunity to play for a team that expects to win a lot of games.

“It makes me feel great,” Warren said of the Pacers making a deal for him. “I feel like every day matters here. Every day is taken seriously. I’m ready to contribute to that.”

After a five-year start to his career stuck in a perpetual rebuild in the desert with the Suns, it’s understandable why he feels that way.

For the Pacers, it was a trade offer they initially didn’t think was serious according to ESPN’s Amin Elhassan. All they gave up was cash and salary cap space and they received a capable scorer in Warren and the 32nd pick in the draft (which they flipped on draft night for three future second-round picks).

“We weren’t expecting that one,” Kevin Pritchard told Mark Montieth of Pacers.com of the Warren trade. “But when it came, we made the decision in five minutes. We knew it was the right thing.” Continue reading Breaking down what T.J. Warren brings to the Indiana Pacers

Pacers title would be ‘big reliever’ to Metta World Peace

Former Indiana Pacers player Metta World Peace wrote on Twitter, “In my lifetime, I would love to see the Pacers win a title. It would be a big reliever for me.”

The player formerly known as Ron Artest may still be feeling guilty about how the Malice at the Palace likely cost the Pacers their best chance at an NBA title. It’s not hard to see why them eventually winning a championship would be a relief to him.

Indiana looked poised to finally overcome the Detroit Pistons that year and had blown them out on their home floor on that infamous November night. One hard foul, a large scuffle and a tossed cup later, World Peace and Stephen Jackson were in the stands fighting the opposing team’s fans. Jermaine O’Neal punched people that came onto the court. Chaos ensued as the team tried to make it back to the locker room. One of the darkest moments not only in Pacers history but in the NBA’s.

Continue reading Pacers title would be ‘big reliever’ to Metta World Peace

How Nikola Mirotic indirectly caused the Indiana Pacers free agency moves

The Indiana Pacers made some significant moves on the first night of free agency and one player that won’t even play in the NBA next season may have indirectly made it all happen: Nikola Mirotic.

The day before free agency started Mirotic, who was reportedly in the market for a deal ranging around $45 million, decided to leave for Euroleague club Barcelona in his home country. And so began the Basketball Butterfly Effect where a Spanish forward flapped his wings across the ocean and a tornado of transactions rushed through the league.

But Mirotic was never even rumored to be on the Pacers radar in free agency, so how did his decision leave the NBA affect the team? It starts with the team that was interested in him. Continue reading How Nikola Mirotic indirectly caused the Indiana Pacers free agency moves

Malcolm Brogdon makes perfect sense for the Pacers

The Indiana Pacers addressed one of their flaws from last season by bringing in Malcolm Brogdon as their new starting point guard.

The Indiana Pacers finally got a running-mate worthy of sharing the backcourt with Victor Oladipo in the form of Malcolm Brogdon. The 26-year-old former member of the Milwaukee Bucks isn’t a short-term solution or specialist serving as a band-aid — he is the future of the position for Indiana.

Last season we saw how the Pacers couldn’t score when it mattered, especially in the playoffs. but that won’t be an issue with Brogdon. He isn’t an efficient but safe player like Darren Collison was. He isn’t a defensive maven that might go a month shooting 28.4% like Cory Joseph did.

Numbers-wise, Brogdon averaged 15.6 points per game on a 50.5/42.6/92.8 shooting line while handing out 3.2 assists and grabbing 4.5 rebounds. Of the players that recently served in the role he will with the Pacers, no one scored more, was more accurate, or rebounded better than Brogdon. Continue reading Malcolm Brogdon makes perfect sense for the Pacers

Final touches the Pacers can make in free agency

The Indiana Pacers still have a few roster spots left to fill after their big night to start free agency. With as much as nearly $6 million in cap space and the $5 million room exception, Kevin Pritchard and the front office have enough money to find some good pieces to add depth to the team.

After the excellent additions of Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb, the team’s depth chart looks something like this:

  • Point guard: Malcolm Brogdon, Aaron Holiday
  • Shooting guard: Victor Oladipo, Jeremy Lamb, Edmond Sumner
  • Small Forward: TJ Warren, Doug McDermott, Brian Bowen (2-way contract)
  • Power Forward: Domantas Sabonis, TJ Leaf, Alize Johnson
  • Center: Myles Turner, Goga Bitadze

There’s some issues with looking at it this way that over simplifies things when multiple guys can play more than just one position. Brogdon, Holiday and Sumner can play both guard spots, Lamb, Sumner and McDermott can play the 2 or the 3, Warren can play both forward positions, and Turner, Sabonis and Bitadze are all primarily centers but could all see time at the 4 as well this year.

So what do the Pacers still need on the roster? Continue reading Final touches the Pacers can make in free agency

Indiana Pacers cash in on their flexibility with Brogdon, Lamb

The Indiana Pacers will look very different than its last iteration when the new season starts after making some major moves on the first night of free agency. Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb are arriving and Bojan Bogdanovic and Thad Young are departing.

When Kevin Pritchard took over for Larry Bird as President of Basketball Operations, he immediately set out to have a lot of flexibility in the deals that he signed and the roster he constructed after completing the trade for Victor Oladipo. Darren Collison and Bogdanovic both got two-year deals with partial guarantees for the second season to give the Pacers plenty of options. Cory Joseph was acquired with just two years on his deal.

Even while signing short-term contracts, a fantastic culture was created behind their 3T mantra of toughness, togetherness and trust as well as the sheer positivity of Victor Oladipo permeating through the entire franchise. The chemistry of the group was the best they’ve had in recent memory.

They could have tried to cash in on the flexibility to an extent last off-season by letting Darren Collison, Bogdanovic go with their small partial guarantees but Pritchard remained patient waiting for the right opportunity and kept the overachieving team together one more season while still keeping the books relatively clean for the next off-season with short deals (Tyreke Evans and Kyle O’Quinn for one year, no new deal for Young who opted into his player option).

All of it led to this summer with Indiana having more cap space than they’ve likely ever had that could be used to sign free agents or make trades with teams looking for cap space. For Pritchard, this period could end up defining his tenure with the Paces as much as the Oladipo/Paul George swap for better or for worse. The big questions were what would he be able to do with the large amount of available money for a team that hasn’t had much success in attracting free agents over the course of its existence and whether that flexibility that he worked hard to maintain lead to anything at all.

It’s hard to imagine a better scenario coming to fruition than what transpired last night (at least one that’s realistic) in what was a whirlwind in the first 45 minutes of free agency.

Continue reading Indiana Pacers cash in on their flexibility with Brogdon, Lamb

Under-the-radar guards for Pacers: Satoransky, Jones, Curry

The Indiana Pacers have plenty of cap space to make moves when free agency starts and plenty of holes to fill on the roster. Here are a few guys that are more under the radar that could help add some depth at the guard positions to the roster.

If the Pacers keep Bojan Bogdanovic as it seems is the plan (though the Utah Jazz are trying to swoop in when free agency starts), they have around $21 million in cap space to use on other free agents. These players could potentially be had for a smaller portion of that space than the players (some good options, some not so much) previously covered here in more detail:

Restricted: D’Angelo Russell, Malcolm Brogdon, Terry Rozier

Veterans: Ricky Rubio, George Hill, Patrick Beverley, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo

The max guys that aren’t coming: Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker

Tomas Satoransky

Satoransky is a restricted free agent so that complicates a potential deal but the Wizards may be pressed to let him go with their less than ideal cap situation. At 6’7″, Satoransky has a lot of positional versatility. He can play both guard spots and small forward. Continue reading Under-the-radar guards for Pacers: Satoransky, Jones, Curry

How Darren Collison’s retirement affects the Indiana Pacers

While the Indiana Pacers seemed unlikely to bring Darren Collison back in free agency, his surprising retirement at 31 years old will have ripple effects in the point guard market.

With one less appealing veteran guard available less than 48 hours before free agency begins, the price of every other free agent at the position could go up. Teams that were planning on pursuing Collison will have to look elsewhere for their floor general needs. Continue reading How Darren Collison’s retirement affects the Indiana Pacers

Pacers Free Agency: Rubio, Beverley, Hill

There’s perhaps no bigger need for the Indiana Pacers than a starting point guard. There are many NBA veterans hitting free agency that could fill in this role including Ricky Rubio, Patrick Beverley, and George Hill.

Ideally, the Pacers would probably look to sign someone like this to a short-term deal if they believe that Aaron Holiday will eventually take over the position down the line. Previously, we looked at possible options that could be seen as more long-term choices for the position but could be harder to obtain because of being restricted free agents:

Ricky Rubio

Rubio has been mentioned in many rumors connected to the Pacers. With ESPN’s Zach Lowe and The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor both reporting that he’s a major possibility to end up in Indiana. Lowe said the Pacers will be looking at many options, including the trade market, especially if Rubio’s market gets “too frothy” but there haven’t been many other teams rumored to be connected to him except for the Phoenix Suns. Continue reading Pacers Free Agency: Rubio, Beverley, Hill

Pacers Free Agency: Russell, Brogdon, Rozier

The Indiana Pacers need a point guard. There are many available on the free agent market. Some of the more intriguing options are restricted free agents, which historically hasn’t been an area where the Pacers have pursued players. Would that change with players like D’Angelo Russell and Malcolm Brogdon?

Restricted free agency is difficult for teams to dive into. Once you agree to an offer sheet with a player, your cap space is held hostage for 48 hours while the player’s original team decides whether or not to match the offer. If they do decide to match, many backup options will have likely signed elsewhere. The Pacers would likely prefer going after these players if they were renounced by their original teams and became unrestricted free agents which could happen with a couple of them.

D’Angelo Russell

Russell is one of the fanbase’s favorite targets. Coming off of an All-Star season and at just 23 years old, it’s easy to see why. If Kyrie Irving joins the Nets, Brooklyn may be inclined to withdraw Russell’s qualifying offer and make him an unrestricted free agent. This would make a lot more teams interested in his services without the hassle of RFA.

Russell, the former 2nd overall pick, averaged career highs across the board with 21.1 points and 7 assists per game while upping his shooting percentage to 43.4% and his 3-point percentage to 36.9%. Continue reading Pacers Free Agency: Russell, Brogdon, Rozier

Pacers Free Agency: Thinking Big

The Indiana Pacers have plenty of holes in the roster to fill during free agency. Perhaps none more glaring than at the point guard position.

There are many directions the Pacers could go and options that Kevin Pritchard and the front office can pursue. Indiana could try and make a play for a big name All Star like Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving. They could look to the restricted free agent market to get young up-and-coming players like D’Angelo Russell, Malcolm Brogdon or Terry Rozier.  Veteran point guards like George Hill, Patrick Beverley, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo could all be available. Under-the-radar restricted free agents like Tomas Satoransky and Tyus Jones could both be targets if the Pacers thought they could do more with a larger role. And if none of these options work out or the remaining just aren’t appealing, Indiana could try to bring back one of their own in Darren Collison or Cory Joseph.

Currently, only Aaron Holiday and Edmond Sumner could play the lead guard position on the team. While Holiday is almost definitely going to get a larger role next season, it probably won’t be as a full-time starter in his second season. Sumner has shown flashes of potential and stood out in the G-League last year, but he’s more likely to be the emergency option at both guard spots if the Pacers pick up his team option than someone that gets consistent minutes every night. With Victor Oladipo out until December or January, finding someone that can carry the load of ball-handling duties would seem paramount.

The Big Fish: Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving

These are by far the most unlikely targets for the Pacers to end up actually signing among the many covered here, but Pritchard talked about wanting his front office to “think big” and there are no bigger options to pursue in free agency than Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving. Continue reading Pacers Free Agency: Thinking Big

The Athletic: Kemba Walker’s ‘first priority’ is Charlotte

One rumored free agent target for the Indiana Pacers in Kemba Walker seems intent on staying with the team that drafted him if they can reach an agreement. Kemba Walker talked about his upcoming free agency with The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and his first choice would appear to be remaining with the Charlotte Hornets.

“Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority,” Walker told Weiss. “That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. … People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.”

The Hornets have a major advantage if they choose to use it with the supermax contract that Walker, who averaged over 25 points per game this season, qualified for by making the All-NBA third team. The Hornets were already the only team that could offer Walker a 5-year deal but now the value of the deal could be up to $221.3 million. Every other team can only offer a maximum of four years and $140.6 million, which the Pacers could create the necessary cap space for if they so desired. Continue reading The Athletic: Kemba Walker’s ‘first priority’ is Charlotte

Myles Turner calls All-Defense snub ‘blatant disrespect’

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner was not selected to either of the NBA’s All-Defensive teams that were announced today.

At the center position, Rudy Gobert was selected for the first team and Joel Embiid was selected for the second team. Turner, the league’s leading shot blocker, received just one vote for first team and 37 for second team.

Turner was unhappy with the results calling it “blatant disrespect” on Twitter.

Kevin Pritchard replied to his center’s tweet with, “We know Myles!”

Thad Young, who received a pair of votes for second team, came to Turner’s defense.

Turner improved his defensive acumen from previous seasons with better footwork and being in position to block or challenge shots at the rim more often. His 2.7 blocks per game and 8.4 block percentage led the entire league.

Turner responded to not being one of the final nominees for Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week with a blue cap emoji 🧢 and did the same with the news today with two of them.

It looks like Turner will have plenty of extra motivation for his workouts this summer.

Tyreke Evans ‘dismissed and disqualified’ from NBA

Indiana Pacers free agent Tyreke Evans has been “dismissed and disqualified” from the NBA for violating the league’s and the NBPA’s anti-drug policy.

Under the program, Evans can apply for reinstatement into the league after two years. This could be the end of his career after a difficult season as he approaches 30 years old.

The NBA and the Pacers are not allowed to disclose any details other than announcing the dismissal of Evans.

Evans missed a few games over the course of the season for “personal reasons” that were never elaborated on as he had a year that failed to live up to expectations with the Pacers.

The Pacers offered their support to Evans in a statement the team released. Hopefully Evans is able to seek the help he needs.

Plenty of positives for Pacers in NBA Draft Lottery

The Indiana Pacers weren’t a part of the NBA Draft lottery but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a rooting interest. The results went about as well as it possibly could have for the team.

There were many winners in the lotto on Wednesday. The New Orleans Pelicans being the literal winners with the Zion Williamson sweepstakes. The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers both jumped up into the top-4 selections. There were also some losers. The team with the least amount of wins last season in the Knicks will pick 3rd. The Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers had the second-worst records in the NBA this season but will be picking 5th and 6th. The Chicago Bulls dropped all the way to 7th.

For a team that did not participate in all the festivities, the Pacers, whose first-round pick was already settled at 18th after they won tiebreaker with two other teams, “won” as much as they could possibly hope for in an event in which they weren’t actually involved.

First, Williamson, the consensus number one pick, will be going to a Western Conference team. The Pelicans seem to be the most fortunate with the timing of their lottery wins as they get a new franchise player as Anthony Davis wants to leave.

The Bulls and the Cavaliers both slipping down saw two of the Pacers Central divisional foes to lose their shot at Zion. Dropping much lower than expected limits their options even further. Chicago’s John Paxson listed things in the Bulls favor that sounds a lot like the Pacers list. Not a good night for the Bulls.

With the second pick going to the Grizzlies, this could push more speculation into one particular player that could be targeted this offseason. Indiana is faced with quite a predicament with their roster with so many free agents. After last night, maybe one of their question marks has been answered. A Mike Conley trade could be more likely to happen. Ja Morant from Murray State is already being reported as the likely pick for the Grizzlies and they may want to hand the keys to the offense to the rookie right away to let him grow with as much experience as possible. It’s no secret Memphis has been open to dealing Conley recently.

Conley, who will be 32 years old next season, is under contract for the next two years at a hefty price of $67 million combined but is coming off of one the best performances in his career. Conley, who averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game, grew up in Indiana and the Pacers sure do love their natives. His ability to score with the ball in his hands and run the offense would improve the Pacers tremendously. With Indiana not the most attractive destination in free agency, trading for someone like Conley could be their best bet to make a bold move this offseason.

A trade wouldn’t be without its risks since Memphis isn’t just giving him away. Could something like the 18th pick, Domantas Sabonis or Aaron Holiday, and salary filler be enough for them to bite? It’s unclear but the Pacers should look into how interested the Grizzlies would be in a potential deal. There were rumors that the Pacers made an offer at the deadline but talks didn’t get far.

The trade that cost the Pacers their chance at Michael Jordan

In the dark ages of the Indiana Pacers early NBA history of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the team struggled and made many poor decisions at least partially due to financial instability. Perhaps none worse than one trade that involved a future draft pick.

(30 for 30 voice) What if I told you that after the Indiana Pacers traded away their chance at drafting the player many consider to be the greatest of all time in Michael Jordan?

In 1981, Head Coach Jack McKinney led the Pacers to its first winning season (44-38) in the NBA and their first trip to the playoffs on his way to being named Coach of the Year. But the team’s success was soon cut down when starting center James Edwards was lost in free agency to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In order to keep pushing for the postseason, McKinney traded a first-round pick in the 1984 draft for Tom Owens, a journeyman center on the tail end of his career, to fill the void that Edwards left. Owens only played one season for the Pacers averaging 10.5 points per game and the team missed the playoffs with a 35-47 record.

Indiana then traded Mr. Owens to the Detroit Pistons for a second-round pick in the 1984 draft and won a combined 46 games over the next two seasons.

The Pacers finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference in the 1983-84 season and McKinney was fired. That draft pick they traded away for a short-term fix ended up being the second overall selection.

The 1984 NBA Draft is widely considered one of the best ever and ended up having five Hall of Famers. Hakeem Olajuwon went first overall to the Houston Rockets. The Portland Trail Blazers infamously took Sam Bowie and Michael Jordan fell to third with the Chicago Bulls. 

Maybe the Pacers would have made the same mistake the Blazers did and that’s the decision that would haunt them the most from the 1980s instead of the Owens trade. Or maybe Jordan would have led Indiana to multiple NBA titles like he did with Chicago. We’ll never know.

Donnie Walsh took over the Pacers personnel decisions in 1986 and steadily built the consistently competitive, respectable franchise that came closer than anyone to beating the Jordan Bulls during their dynasty as they took them to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1998. 

Jon Wertheim of SI.com once said the Pacers were trying to break the “curse of Tom Owens,” similar to the Red Sox curse of trading away Babe Ruth. With all their bad luck since he said that in the early 2000s, it rings a little more true: Malice at the Palace, the GQ Photo with the struggle of 2013-14, Paul George’s broken leg, and Victor Oladipo’s injury.

Aaron Holiday in line for increased role

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

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

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

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

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

Writing is on the wall for many Pacers free agents

One thing appears certain for the Indiana Pacers as the off-season approaches: changes are coming. With so many veteran free agents on the roster and the team getting swept in the first round, they’ll be looking to make upgrades.

Based on the comments from Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard at Wednesday’s press conference, the writing may be on the wall for more than a few major contributors from last year’s team including Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Tyreke Evans, Wesley Matthews and perhaps even team captain Thad Young.

“We’re willing to think big,” said Pritchard.  “… I’m super proud of this team, but we have to improve our talent.  The Boston loss was as challenging a series as I’ve ever been a part of. I thought we’d win a few games. We all have to look in the mirror and look at our process. We’ve got to get better.” Continue reading Writing is on the wall for many Pacers free agents

Why Tyreke Evans didn’t live up to expectations with the Pacers

Tyreke Evans was supposed to be the secondary playmaker that could help push the Indiana Pacers farther in the playoffs but nothing went according to plan for either party.

After a disappointing season that never lived up to expectations, it’s as hard to see Evans wanting to come back to Indiana as it is to see Indiana wanting Evans back. Both sides are likely ready to move on from this one-year failed experiment.

A combination of a lack of freedom to make mistakes, a lack of rhythm from not having the ball as often, a nagging knee injury that required treatment multiple times and just poor play all contributed to his ineffective, frustrating year with the Pacers.

After being suspended for one game very early in the season for being late to practice (and being late a number of times prior to that), it seemed like Evans was in the doghouse for much of his time in Indiana, never fully regaining the trust of the coaching staff. Tardiness is Nate McMillan’s biggest pet peeve and Evans found out how seriously he takes being on time.

And Evans’s play while on the court did him no favors. He struggled to be consistently productive with major trouble finishing at the basket. He made just 49% of his shots within three feet of the rim according to Basketball Reference (a career low), ranking among the very worst in the league at finishing those attempts. All those misses were nice for Domas Sabonis, who was often in the right place for putbacks on his layups.

Evans, according to NBA.com’s play-type tracking data, made 134 of 308 layup attempts on the season (43.5%). Even though he struggled to finish at the rim, his ability to get to the rim was often helpful for the team as seen by the Sabonis put-backs. The Pacers often were able to get rebounds on these plays after the defense focused its attention on forcing a miss and either get an easy put-back or restart the offense. For a team that often struggled at getting to the basket once Oladipo went down, Evans ability to get to the rim was valuable, even if it wasn’t often successful. Continue reading Why Tyreke Evans didn’t live up to expectations with the Pacers