Tag Archives: Monta Ellis

Pacers use stretch provision to waive Monta Ellis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Updated: Pacers waive Monta Ellis after discussing buyout

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

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

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

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

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

Monta Ellis suspended for five games

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

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

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

GR3 soared, while Monta went down in flames: 2016-2017 Player Reviews

The 2016-2017 season has come and gone with an up and down year for the Blue and Gold and an interesting, highly important offseason to come with the Paul George situation looming. Here’s the start of our player season reviews with a look at Glenn Robinson III and Monta Ellis.

Glenn Robinson III

Season Per-Game Statistics: 6.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.7 assists

Contract – Under Contract through 2017/18 for $1,090,500 in the last year of his deal. This was his third year in the league. July 2015 the Pacers signed GR3 to a 3-year deal after the 76ers opted to not give a qualifying offer.

The Good – So much good here in Robinson’s mini-breakout season. A player acquired during the summer of 2015 based of potential only who most thought as a fringe rotational player, finally started to show some promise of his skills from his game winner against Atlanta to his NBA Slam Dunk championship. Glenn’s athleticism has always been his strength but this season he added shooting (39% from 3-point territory) and a little bit of defense to go along with it. A 3&D wing the Pacers desperately needed and even filled in adequately for a brief period while Paul George was hurt.

If he can continue to develop his all around game (shooting / defense) and keep his confidence up, he can be an asset in the rotation going forward, perhaps even starting some at the 2-4 spots. His injury late in the season caused Nate McMillan to (mistakenly) start Monta Ellis again so the bench could still have some shooting with CJ moving to the reserves. His importance to the team was never more clear.

The Bad – Confidence. Glenn needs to keep playing like he belongs. Too often he can drift and disappear on the court. When he’s out there, he needs to be noticed. Either by his athleticism on offense or hustle on defense. Especially when he’s playing with the second unit. When he’s starting, the team needs him to fill up the boxes by doing the little things. Blocks, hustle, etc. You wonder how much of him disappearing at times is because of who the ball was typically given to when he was in the game. The bench was typically run by ball dominant players like Rodney Stuckey or Ellis. Perhaps we’ll see a larger role for Robinson next year and a willing passer like Lance could lead to more opportunities for Sky Dog.

The injury that sidelined him near the end of the season (right when he was hitting his stride) is not chronic (calf strain). But hopefully those injuries do not become a habit.

Monta Ellis

Season Per-Game Statistics: 8.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists

Contract – Under Contract for 2017/18. $11,227,000, two more years on his deal with the last year (2018-19) a player option (The Pacers can terminate the player option by releasing Monta Ellis anytime before the end of next year’s regular season like they did with Rodney Stuckey this season). This was his 13th year in the league. In July 2015, the Pacers signed Monta to a 4-year deal worth $44 million after he opted out of his contract with the Dallas Mavericks.

The Good – Most fans would say, is there any? While there were many negative Monta moments and themes over the season, 6th-man Monta was a positive at times when Coach McMillan played him there instead of with the starting unit. His ability with the second unit to create and set up teammates was something the Pacers were missing before the acquisition of Lance Stephenson.  If he would accept the role of the bench, facilitating and attacking the rim (not shooting), he has a shot at being a top 6th man in the league. The problem is that if Stephenson continues to come off the bench, there’s really no role for good role for Ellis on this team.

The Bad – Now time for what fans want. Monta shooting threes = bad. Monta dribbling out the clock / ball stop = bad. Monta on defense (especially when Jeff Teague is on the floor too) = bad. Mostly, Monta on the floor with other players who need the ball to be successful (Teague, Lance, Stuckey, Brooks). Thanks for all the ball dominant guards that also aren’t great shooters, Larry! Trying not to kick a guy when he had a down year (lowest PPG of his career since his rookie season with 8.5ppg), but he’s getting older (31 wait, that’s old!?) and a wing who can’t guard anyone (remember the LeBron fast break dunk in the playoffs? ya, I’d rather not) or shoot threes, is a liability.

Best case this offseason is the Pacers somehow find a taker for Monta’s contract that they can sell as an expiring, but they still might need to sweeten the deal with a draft pick just to rid themselves of Ellis (and potentially Al Jefferson, but that’s another player review).

 

Coroner’s Report: An Autopsy of the 2016-2017 Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers season died today after being swept by the defending-champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The sweep was the first in the franchise’s history in a 7-game series. Here’s the autopsy on what caused the Pacers demise in 2016-2017.

Date: 4/23/2017

Patient: 2016-2017 Indiana Pacers
Cause(s) of Death:

  • Larry Bird
  • Nate McMillan
  • Inconsistency
  • Thaddeus Young’s wrist
  • LeBron James

Summary of examination:

Larry Bird:

No better place to start than the top for why the Pacers season died. While Bird did well to add Thaddeus Young for the 20th pick in a weak draft class and the trade for Jeff Teague seems like it’ll work out for the Pacers as long as he re-signs this summer, the team’s various puzzle pieces just never fit together. The team was built with multiple ball-dominant, undersized guards with Teague joining Monta Ellis and Rodney Stuckey on the roster. Ellis and Stuckey make the fit worse by being woeful shooters from the outside. And because Bird thought he didn’t have enough of these ball dominant, undersized guards, he also added Aaron Brooks.

Al Jefferson was added after Bird couldn’t afford to spend the $16 million per year on Ian Mahinmi that he received from the Washington Wizards, but he was only effective on offense when surrounded by shooters which the Pacers were in desperate need of all season long, instead eating up Jefferson’s real estate to work in the post most of the season were Lavoy Allen or Kevin Seraphin. Jefferson also looked disinterested in anything resembling defense all season, adding to the team’s woes in that area.

By the end of the season, Bird has spent $27 million of the team’s salary cap on three players that gave the Pacers nothing in the playoff series against the Cavaliers. Stuckey was injured and released late in the season, Jefferson never saw a minute of playing time in the series, and I wish we saw that little of Ellis. Even as his playing time shrank to just five minutes played in game four, the Pacers were outscored by seven points in that stretch. They lost the game by four. This was Monta’s biggest highlight of the series.

Ellis and Jefferson still have multiple years left on their contracts though the Pacers can rid themselves of Ellis’s player option for the final season by waiving him before the end of the next season like they did with Stuckey this year. Bird’s spent a lot of precious cap space on players that have made the Pacers worse. The Pacers were outscored by 2 points per 100 possessions with Ellis on the court per NBA Wowy, despite spending much of that time with the starters (CJ Miles with the starters meanwhile was the 5th-best lineup in the NBA that played over 400 minutes together). The Pacers were outscored by 6 points per 100 possessions when Al Jefferson was on the court, and 3 points per 100 possessions with Stuckey. None of these players added anything on the defensive end either besides Ellis’s penchant for guessing correctly to get a steal or two per game. 

Bird’s poor roster construction the last two seasons has wasted two years of Paul George’s prime at the worst possible time as his contract comes another year closer to being up before George can hit free agency after next season.

All these additions led to a roster that had a nasty problem of both too little shooting and too little defense. After years of being in the upper echelon of team defense, the team struggled all season long to be consistent on that end of the court after losing George Hill, Ian Mahinmi, Solomon Hill and Frank Vogel, despite Bird’s confidence that assistant coach Dan Burke would take care of that end.

Bird allowed Vogel’s contract to expire (article had previously said Vogel was fired, but his contract simply wasn’t renewed) after the Pacers lost in the first round to the Raptors in seven games while saying that he wants a “new voice” in the locker room and for the team to play faster. Vogel led the teams to the playoffs every year except for one: the year Paul George recovered from his broken leg. They were one win away from getting the final playoff spot that season. Meanwhile, Bird quickly decided without interviewing any other candidates that his “new voice” to get the team to play faster was a coach that had been with the Pacers the previous three seasons and was notorious for his ultra slow-paced, but efficient offenses at Portland, Nate McMillan, which brings us to the next cause of death.

Nate McMillan 

McMillan in his first year as head coach for the Pacers was dealt a flawed roster from the start (see above) but did little to find ways to put some of these mismatched pieces in a position to succeed. Bird wanted the team to play faster on offense, but they were only 18th in pace this season. Most perplexing of all was McMillan’s decision to start Ellis for 33 games of the season and then two more in the playoffs, even though it was obvious as soon as Teague was acquired that Ellis and Teague would never fit together. Pacers were outscored by nearly eight points per game when Teague and Ellis shared the court in the playoffs. Even after realizing that finally pulling the plug on starting Ellis after the first two games against the Cavaliers, McMillan somehow decided that he should attempt to finish the game with Ellis as he played six minutes in the fourth quarter of game three during the Pacers historic collapse.

Meanwhile, the Pacers starting lineup with either Glenn Robinson III (+6 per 100 possessions) or CJ Miles (+7.7 points per 100 possessions) was one of the better 5-man lineups in the league. When Robinson got hurt, McMillan made the mistake of making the starters worse for the sake of the fit of the bench by going back to Ellis over Miles. It didn’t hurt the Pacers in the regular season as they ended the season with five straight wins, but we saw the effects of it in the playoffs.

He chose to bog down bench lineups with double plodders (pairing Jefferson and Allen or Jefferson and Seraphin or Allen and Seraphin) for much of the season while never giving Georges Niang an opportunity to play as a power forward to see if he could help the spacing issues and stay with a stretch big better than the other bigs that came off the bench. Driving players like Stuckey and Ellis could never find any space in the lane and spent a lot of time bricking jump shots from the outside and Jefferson was short on room to operate from the post in the paint.

The Pacers were very much a team that was living in the past under McMillan with a general a lack of awareness of the 3-point line. The Pacers were tied with the 4th-best 3-point shooting team in the league by percentage at 37.6%, but were a lowly 27th in the league in attempts per game. On the other end of the court, the Pacers gave up the 5th-most 3-point attempts and were 13th in the league in opponent’s shooting percentage from long range (35.5%).

Another of the more puzzling moves from McMillan was his coaching of second-year player Myles Turner. Turner’s usage percentage mysteriously dropped after the All-Star break from 21% to just 16% with McMillan on record of saying that he wanted Turner to not shoot it every time and “distribute more,” but this made Turner hesitant to shoot when opportunities were there as he was stuck thinking too much instead of just playing with instinct. A finger injury in March didn’t help, but the drop in usage started before the injury. Turner got better as a passer throughout the season, but that’s a waste of Turner’s talents when he’s passing out to players like Ellis in the corner. Turner was called the Pacers best shooter and potentially the best Pacers player ever down the line at different times by Bird in the last two years, but Turner went from being the 2nd or 3rd offensive option to only the 4th or 5th for reasons unknown. Turner still has plenty of room to grow by adding strength and gaining more of a low-post game, but there’s no reason that his jump shot shouldn’t have been utilized more in the offense this year.

Too often this team seemed undisciplined and unorganized on defense, and at some point, the team’s inconsistency of play from one night to another comes down to the coach as well, which brings up the next cause of death.

Inconsistency

The Pacers at home this season were one of the best teams in the league with a record of 29-12 that was tied for 7th-best in the league, but on the road, the Pacers record of 13-28 was the 8th-worst in the league. The road woes came even against the bottom-feeders of the league as the Pacers lost to the following non-playoff teams on the road: Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks (twice), Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets (twice) and Miami Heat (twice).

All of these bad losses become even more frustrating when just one more win this season would have avoided the first-round matchup against LeBron James, and the Pacers had a much better shot of challenging the Toronto Raptors or any other team in the East than James and the Cavaliers. By winning only two of these 11 games, the Pacers would have been the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Pacers effort on defense came and went all year. Scott Agness reported after today’s game that the general feeling was that they were “horrendous” on defense all season and that communication was the biggest thing that they lacked.

Some of this inconsistency from early in the season can be blamed on a lack of familiarity with each other as the team was overhauled from the previous season, but they never seemed to find much chemistry until Lance Stephenson arrived on the scene.

Thaddeus Young’s Wrist

Thad Young showed how important he was to the Pacers when he suffered his wrist injury and missed eight games. The Pacers would the first two, but then lost the next six going into the All-Star break. Young came back after the All-Star break and still helped the Pacers with his hustle, effort and array of lefty floaters in the lane, but his wrist was clearly still injured and his improved shooting stroke from outside was unable to make a return in the second half of the season. For a stretch early in his return, he struggled to even catch passes from his teammates.

Young shot 39.6% from 3-point range on 111 attempts before the All-Star break and only 14% after on just seven attempts. Young was unable to even consider shooting from the outside as his wrist recovered. The Pacers were 27-22 before Young’s injury and 15-18 after the injury.

LeBron James

James delivered the final death blow to the Pacers season by being the best player in the world throughout the first-round series. Every time Paul George had an amazing game in the series, James answered. James averaged 32.8 points, 9.0 assists, 9.8 rebounds and 3 steals per game and was the catalyst to the Pacers historic collapse in game three as he was unstoppable while surrounded by four shooters in that fourth quarter and the Pacers had no answer for the lineup. The Pacers could have avoided facing James by taking care of business in the regular season though as talked about above.

Drugs in system at time of death

Abnormal levels of hype and adrenaline

Lance Stephenson, Born Ready, briefly brought this team back from the dead when it looked like the team would fail to make the playoffs as they went 5-1 after he was signed to a 3-year, $12-million deal after Stuckey suffered a season-ending injury. His energy and passion was infectious for the Pacers as the team finally were consistently showing up night after night with their season on the line. The Pacers outscored opponents by 10 points per game with Stephenson on the court in the regular season and look like they have a steal at just $4 million for next season.

For the love of the basketball gods, don’t keep starting Monta & other thoughts

Tell me if you’ve heard this before? Monta Ellis shouldn’t be in the starting lineup.

I’m not sure there’s anyone left on that lonely island (if it were ever inhabited at all) that’s hoping to see Ellis listed among the Indiana Pacers starting five when the series against the Cleveland Cavaliers resumes for game three tomorrow evening.

The Pacers are down 2-0, but they’ve lost these pair of games by a measly seven points combined despite many issues including choosing not to start the game with their best 5-man unit.

Per NBA Wowy (with a h/t to C. Cooper of Indy Cornrows), in the 44 minutes that Teague and Ellis have played together in this series, the Pacers have been outscored by 10 points in 92 possessions (which is greater than the difference in the scoreboard in the first two games).

The problems with Ellis and Teague playing together have been unsurprising as they are what many predicted as soon as Teague was acquired this offseason. Both need the ball to be their best selves on offense, both are undersized, if Ellis doesn’t have the ball he provides zero shooting from the outside to space the floor and while Ellis is a master at getting steals by correctly predicting which way his opponent will go off the dribble, he’s good at little else on the defensive end. The pairing didn’t play well together in the regular season and hasn’t in the playoffs either.

In this series, the Cavaliers have been eager to leave Ellis open on the 3-point line and force the ball out of Paul George and the rest of the starters’ hands. LeBron James has often been the one guarding Ellis, but he’s essentially allowed to roam free with no fear of Ellis making him pay. While Ellis has been aggressive a few times a game off the dribble, you don’t really want him challenging James when you have Paul George on the court being guarded by JR Smith or Iman Shumpert.

Even when Ellis hits a jump shot these days, it feels like a victory for the Cavs, because it’s unlikely that Ellis will hit the next one he takes, but it’s more likely that he’s given himself the confidence to take more anyway. And once again, you’d rather have anybody else on the court take that jump shot with the starters instead of Ellis.

Meanwhile with the return of Glenn Robinson III, the Pacers have three legitimate candidates that could supplant Ellis in the starting lineup: CJ Miles, Lance Stephenson, and Glenn Robinson III.

Mark Montieth said that based on practice jerseys, he thinks Miles may get the start for game three, so that’s a good sign that McMillan is looking for other options.

The Pacers starting lineup with Miles is also one with a proven track record of success: the 5th-best lineup in the NBA that’s played more than 400 minutes together this season. It outscored opponents by 7.7 points per 100 possessions in the regular season (research per Cooper).

The biggest thing that Miles brings is shooting that demands to be guarded. The Cavs can’t leave Miles, who shot 41% from 3-point territory, open on the perimeter like they can with Ellis.

Glenn Robinson III came back with limited minutes in his first game back but hit an open three and didn’t show much rust in his return to action. He’s another guy that the Cavs would have to respect more than Ellis on the outside.

Both Robinson and Miles also provide a bigger body defender than Ellis that while they still can’t check LeBron on an emergency switch, they at least stand a better chance.

The issue with Miles and Robinson starting then becomes what to do about the Stephenson and Ellis pairing that has all the same problems that Ellis/Teague pairing has, but with even less shooting. Per NBA Wowy, they haven’t faired too badly so far in the series but in limited minutes. The Pacers were outscored by just two points in 23 possessions over 10 minutes (8.7 points per 100 possessions) with Ellis and Stephenson both playing.

My personal solution to this problem would be to not play Ellis at all. Either go to an 8-man rotation that features Paul George, Myles Turner, Teague, Thaddeus Young, Miles, Robinson, Stephenson and Seraphin or play Aaron Brooks in very limited minutes as the ninth man. Brooks has had some offensive success playing off the ball with Stephenson and can make an outside shot. In game one, Brooks and the rest of the Pacers looked loss defensively in the first half and he hasn’t seen the court in the series since. In seven minutes, the Pacers were outscored by two points (over 14 points per 100 possessions) with Brooks and Stephenson sharing the court.

Stephenson could also end up starting. While McMillan, George and Stephenson all said that he lost his composure in the third quarter while attempting to guard Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, he’s been a solid addition to the Pacers since returning from his three years in the desert. He’s often been one of the five guys that’s been closing the games final minutes. He’s paired well with Teague so far this series as well. The Pacers have outscored the Cavs by seven points in 54 possessions (13 points per 100 possessions) over 28 minutes while Stephenson and Teague have shared the court.

Other thoughts from the series:

Resident Hot Takes, Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star, even thinks the Paul George hates his teammates, is throwing them under the bus and wants to get out of Indiana as soon as possible narrative that many in the national media have been throwing around is nonsense. If Doyel thinks you’ve gone too far with a hot take, well…

It’s interesting that after losing two road playoff games by only seven points to the defending NBA champions that there would be so much negativity surrounding the team. Perhaps it’s because other lower seeds have won some games or because it feels like the Pacers should have at least won one of these games, but the Pacers were god awful on the road all season and one of the league’s best home teams. If they can get a win at home in Game 3, there’s no reason to think they can’t at least push this series to six games.

Yes, Myles Turner has struggled in his second career playoff series. He’s still protecting the rim well for the most part, but has missed some rotations and Tristan Thompson has done what numerous bigs have done to him all year: destroy him on the glass. He’s driven fans mad with his propensity to double clutch in the paint and needs to add strength this off-season. However, I think he’ll play better in these next two games at home and look more aggressive on the offensive end. Also, calling him soft will always be ridiculous, but probably always be a thing that some people say until he adds more strength on his still young body to not be pushed around down low.

Let’s hope with two days off, the Pacers have come up with a better strategy for guarding the 1/3 pick and roll that has absolutely destroyed them. Help Teague faster when you switch him onto LeBron or fight through those screens better so you don’t have to. And if Lance is going to guard Love again, let’s hope he at least tries to front him and force help from the weakside (like Lance said was the actual plan in the last game).

 

Lowe: Pacers have a way to rid themselves of player options for Stuckey, Ellis

Zach Lowe of ESPN wrote a column on the Indiana Pacers earlier this week that highlights the Paul George situation and looks ahead to the very interesting summer that awaits the Larry Bird and the franchise.

One thing that Lowe said didn’t make his column that he shared to Ramon Shelburne on his podcast, the Lowe Post, was a unique situation that the Pacers have with three contracts currently on the books with player options: CJ Miles and Rodney Stuckey’s options for the 2017-18 season and Monta Ellis’s option for 2018-19.

Details at around the 47:00 mark if you want to listen. Explained below as well.

Lowe says that the Pacers could waive any of those three players before the regular season is over and their player options would go off their books for the salary cap next year (This would apply for next season for Ellis since his player option is for 2018-19). Lowe says that it’s believed that these are the only three contracts like this in the entire league where the player options essentially vanish if the players are waived before the regular season ends.

This means that if the Pacers desired they could waive Stuckey before the regular season is over, and it would essentially be like he declined his player option for next season. This only works if the Pacers waive him before the regular season ends, otherwise Stuckey gets to choose whether or not to accept his player option. If the Pacers actually waived him after the regular season ends, Stuckey automatically gets the $7 million player option and it counts against the Pacers salary cap.

Miles is on an incredibly cheap, team-friendly contract at just $4 million per year, so the Pacers won’t be looking to get out of his contract early by ditching one of few players currently on the roster that can space the floor, and Miles is almost guaranteed to decline his option and cash in in free agency this off-season. The Pacers would like to keep him, but it will cost much more than he’s currently making.

Lowe doesn’t think that the Pacers would release Stuckey before the season even though he said the Pacers would probably like to not have that $7 million on their books and even looked for ways to move him at the deadline (reports that a Stuckey for John Henson deal was discussed). Lowe’s main reasoning is that it wouldn’t look good to Paul George if the Pacers were getting rid of a rotation player before the playoffs.

Stuckey, however, was replaced in the rotation by Aaron Brooks during the Pacers’ last game after many straight poor performances from Stuckey, who has struggled playing backup point guard while paired with Ellis. If the Pacers like what they see from Brooks as the backup point guard for the rest of the season and Stuckey remains out of the rotation, Bird would probably be much more likely to consider this course of action.

Stuckey and Ellis have always been redundant to the roster as poor-shooting slashing guards and removing the possibility of Stuckey, who has also struggled with injuries while with the Pacers, returning next year and opening up an additional $7 million in cap space (Pacers will have about $20 million in cap room if Stuckey accepts his option) could help Bird tremendously as he tries to improve the roster into a contender this summer that will convince George to remain in Indiana.

The Pacers could be better off this year going with just a guard rotation of Jeff Teague, Miles, Ellis, and Glenn Robinson III and leaving out both Stuckey and Brooks completely as they both are poor fits with Ellis coming off the bench. The minutes that Brooks or Stuckey have been getting could easily be split among Robinson, Miles and George, especially as the starters get heavier minutes in the playoffs.

It seems unlikely that Stuckey would be missed this season if the Pacers let him go, but if George is a big fan of Stuckey, Bird could be hesitant to let him go before the playoffs. That $7 million would certainly help the Pacers this summer as they try to convince George to stay however. It is possible that Stuckey declines his option this summer anyway as $7 million is a relatively low total compared to the crazy deals players are signing in free agency now, but he seems to like the team and city, and it’s probably unlikely he would get more from another team this off-season. He may be able to get a similar yearly value, but more than just the one year he has remaining if he does decline.

Lowe thinks that it’s more likely that the Pacers could look to waive Ellis before the end of next year’s regular season if he continues to decline and if the Pacers aren’t very good next year. Monta’s player option is for $11 million for the 2018-19 season and the Pacers should be jumping at an opportunity to clear that contract off the books a year early. We’ll have to wait and see what Bird decides to do when the time comes for both Stuckey and Ellis.

The Constant Evolution of Myles Turner

With the Indiana Pacers trailing by three points to the Oklahoma City Thunder with just under a minute remaining in the game, Monta Ellis drove towards the lane. As Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka converged to help, Ellis kicked it out to the open man standing in the corner ready for the pass behind the 3-point line, 19-year-old rookie, Myles Turner.

The rookie, who had only attempted two 3-pointers and had made none so far this season, calmly gathered the low pass at his feet and immediately rose with confidence to take the shot. Nothing but net. Tie game.

His first career 3-pointer and yet another Mylestone in the constant evolution of Myles Turner.

Myles Turner learned a new skill. Something that seems to happen nearly every game for the fast learning, hard working rookie.

“His biggest quality is that he’s not afraid. He’s never afraid, he’s never shying away from the moment,” Paul George said after the Thunder game, “He asks questions; he wants to learn, wants to get better, and works hard. It’s everything you want in a young player. He has it, and he’s going to be special for us.”

At the start of the season, it was clear that Frank Vogel didn’t want to put too much burden on the Pacers first-round draft pick. He was going to play off the bench at the 5 spot, so he could focus on learning just one position while he got used to the speed of the NBA game.

Myles came into the league with a couple of skills: A smooth jumper, his Turneround™ post move, and an impeccable sense of timing when it came to blocking shots. He used these skills to average 5.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in his first 18 career games and missed over a month and a half with a thumb injury. Modest numbers in about 18 minutes per contest, but you could still see flashes of his potential in every game.

Then the Pacers went on a 4-game Western Conference road trip and Myles Turner put on a nightly show. Turner averaged 20.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks over the trip, including a 31-performance over the defending champion Golden State Warriors that made me tweet this:

“You would have to say fairly that he’s one of the most, if not the most, surprising players in the draft,” Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said to the Indy Star. “I think everybody pretty much knew he was going to be a good player, but I think a lot of people thought it would take more time than this and he’s playing very well.”

Turner was starting to show off even more skills: preventing dunks with blocks that recalled the memory of Roy Hibbert’s block on Carmelo Anthony in the playoffs, hook shots in the post, crafty, quick finishes in the lane. While he was still out of position at times on defense and Vogel knew it might be a “roller coaster,” Myles Turner was moved to the starting lineup, where Pacers fans hope he stays for a good 12-15 years.

Not only is Turner starting, but Vogel is playing him at power forward alongside Ian Mahinmi. While Mahinmi has recently struggled to stay on the court, the Pacers are now 4-1 when the tandem starts the game.

“I don’t know how fast and how far he develops in the final 29 games,” said Vogel in Candace Buckner’s great profile on Turner, “but it will be a big factor in what our ceiling is.”

The result is a rare mix of spacing on offense, but an abundance of rim protection and rebounding on defense. Turner is blocking anything that comes near him at the rim and that includes serving up some smothered chicken to LeBron James.

In the OKC game, assistant coach Popeye Jones told Turner that he wasn’t doing much on defense according to Jeremiah Johnson. Turner responded with 5 blocks in the 3rd-quarter alone.

The lineup is just touching the surface of its potential in terms of spacing now that Turner can take open corner threes. As Turner proves he’s ready to hit the long range shots and Vogel gives him more freedom to take those, the spacing will continue to grow on offense.

The end result may be Larry Bird finally getting that fast paced offense with lots of free flowing movement and spacing, and Frank Vogel playing his preferred style of having two bigs on the court at all times. The best of both worlds.

The always growing skillset of Myles Turner can do that for you.

Myles Turner signed 8×10 giveaway:
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iPacers Biweekly Wrap: 11/8/2015 – 11/22/2015

The Pacers played 7 games in the last two weeks and only lost 2 games by a combined 5 points. They are now 8-2 in their last 10 games over the 0-3 start and sit at 4th-place in the East. In this 10-game stretch, the Pacers have had the best defense in the NBA by advanced metrics and currently have the 5th-best net rating in the NBA for the entire season. The Pacers defensive philosophy may have changed, but it’s as good as ever. Forcing turnovers was never a focal point in year’s past, but they currently average the 2nd-most steals per game in the league and forced 54 turnovers in the last two blowout victories against the Sixers and Bucks. Here’s some quick analysis on each player over the last two weeks:

1. Paul George: Paul George has never played better in his career than he has in the past two weeks. At this point, it’d be surprising if he doesn’t earn the Eastern Conference Player of the Month. While Paul George’s streak of 26 points came to an end at 8, it only happened in a game the Pacers won by nearly 40 points where George “only” scored 20 points in the first three quarters while sitting on the final frame of the blowout. No one is more responsible for how well the Pacers have been playing their past 10 games than PG.
Previous 2-weeks Stats: 21.5 PPG, 9 RPG, 4.3 APG, 2 STL
Previous Grade: A-
Current 2-weeks stats: 27.7 PPG, 8 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.3 STL
Current Grade: A+

Continue reading iPacers Biweekly Wrap: 11/8/2015 – 11/22/2015

iPacers 2015-16 Season Preview: Predictions, Guesses, Hypotheses, and More Things That I’ll Be Wrong About [GIVEAWAY DETAILS INSIDE]

Rejoice for the NBA season is here! The Indiana Pacers start playing again tomorrow night! Their first opponent is on the road against the Toronto Raptors led by Kyle Lowry (also featuring former Pacer Luis Scola).

There have been so many changes to the team over the offseason with nearly half of the roster from last season now playing elsewhere (David West, Roy Hibbert, Scola, Damjan Rudez, Chris Copeland, Donald Sloan, CJ Watson). New players came from free agency (Monta Ellis, Glenn Robinson III, Jordan Hill), the draft (Myles Turner and Joe Young), and via trade (Chase Budinger, Rakeem Christmas). Larry Bird and Frank Vogel are switching to a completely new style on the court this year, emphasizing the space and pace that has been all the rage lately in the NBA. Paul George is somewhat reluctantly trying a new position on offense while returning from a broken leg. The Pacers focus has been offense, offense, offense in training camp, which is strange after seeing Pacers teams built on “smashmouth” basketball with Hibbert and West. With so many new variables, it feels like this year just about anything could happen for the Pacers and all of their players. So, naturally, when the year feels especially unpredictable, I thought I’d give a few predictions for what I think is in store for the Pacers season:

Continue reading iPacers 2015-16 Season Preview: Predictions, Guesses, Hypotheses, and More Things That I’ll Be Wrong About [GIVEAWAY DETAILS INSIDE]

The roster is full: A Quick Overview of the 2015-16 Indiana Pacers.

With the Pacers signing of Glenn Robinson III to a 3-year deal and acquisition of Rakeem Christmas via trade, the Pacers have quickly filled up their roster with 15 players now under contract. Only 8 of the 15 were on the Pacers squad last season, as 7 were either not resigned (Luis Scola, Chris Copeland, Donald Sloan, CJ Watson), were traded (Roy Hibbert, Damjan Rudež) or simply opted out of their contract to sign elsewhere (David West).

So, with nearly half of last year’s roster out of town. Here’s what the roster looks like when divided up into three different position categories:

Continue reading The roster is full: A Quick Overview of the 2015-16 Indiana Pacers.

UPDATED: Monta Ellis contract temporarily voided by NBA

Zach Lowe from Grantland with the reporting:

So, no real cause for concern, Monta Ellis will still be an Indiana Pacer, but it is a little embarrassing that the Pacers cap team managed to screw this up. Let’s try and take a rough look at why this may have happened:

Continue reading UPDATED: Monta Ellis contract temporarily voided by NBA