Tag Archives: nba

Lance Stephenson makes ’em dance their way to a comeback victory

INDIANAPOLIS — After being down by 22 points with less than six minutes left in the third quarter, the Indiana Pacers outscored the Detroit Pistons 51-22 the remainder of the game to win in impressive fashion by a final of 107-100 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers were kick-started by none other than the infectious energy of Lance Stephenson in the fourth quarter as he scored all 13 of his points and grabbed six rebounds in the final 12 minutes.  Continue reading Lance Stephenson makes ’em dance their way to a comeback victory

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Stray Pacervations: The Good, The Bad and the In-Between

Stray Pacervations is intended to shed light on small things and possible trends that happen during Indiana Pacers games. Some good. Some bad. Some in between.

1. Domas Sabonis rebounding and pushing the pace. There are so many things to love about Sabonis’s game already, but this might be my current favorite. When Sabonis grabs a defensive rebound and no defender is near, instead of pausing and finding the outlet pass, Sabonis will immediately turn into a dribble while looking for an open man. It’s a small thing but it helps the Pacers gain a little bit of extra time for their budding transition offense.  Continue reading Stray Pacervations: The Good, The Bad and the In-Between

Lakers fined $500K for tampering with Paul George

After an independent investigation, the Los Angeles Lakers were found to have tampered with Paul George and were fined $500,000.

The reason for the fine was Lakers GM Rob Pelinka expressing interest in George to his agent Aaron Mintz while he was still under contract with the Pacers.

This happened after the league had already issued a warning to the Lakers for tampering after Magic Johnson’s wink-filled interview on national television with Jimmy Kimmel.

The Pacers won’t receive any compensation like draft picks as the league did not find evidence that the Lakers and George had reached an agreement for George to join the team in free agency in 2018.

It’s a small consolation to the Pacers who had zero leverage in the Paul George trade talks because of his widely known desire to join the Lakers and his agent telling teams he would just be a rental.

Shelburne: Paul George has been traded to the Thunder

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

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

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

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

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

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).

 

iPacers Awards 2016-2017

The NBA awards (minus the All-NBA teams, cross your fingers for Paul George) will not be announced until later this month (Update: George did not make an All-NBA team) during the NBA Awards Show, but we can discuss our Pacers season awards right now! The iPacers writers have each weighed in on categories ranging from MVP (not named Paul) to Best Play for the 2016-17 season that just wrapped up for the Blue and Gold.

Be sure to follow our team on twitter: Editor-in-Chief Derek Kramer, @iPacersblog, and our three Contributors: Ross Blauvelt (@TheCorner3Ross), Alexander Grant (@Vegas_SportsGuy) and Joe Betz (@Joe_Betz_).

After the season we just endured, a little positive reminiscing is good for the heart. Let’s think of the good times like Paul George’s play from March through the playoffs, Reborn Ready, Thad Young and GR3’s game winners, and the games that Monta didn’t start. Here’s our awards for the 2016-2017 season.

MVP (not named Paul George):

Derek Kramer: Second-year big man Myles Turner gets my vote. The Pacers outscored opponents by 3 points per 100 possessions with Myles Turner on the court, but were outscored by 5.9 points per 100 possessions with Turner on the bench. The Pacers were 8.9 points per 100 possessions better with Turner on the court than off. That 8.9 point differential is surpassed only by Paul George’s mark of 10.9. The Pacers were a mess defensively all season, but Myles Turner was still a force as a rim protector. While Turner still has plenty of room to grow on both ends (especially in the weight room), he’s already the Pacers 2nd most valuable player. While his offensive role strangely declined over the second-half of the season, hopefully McMillan will look to turn him loose next year instead of wanting him to “distribute the ball more.”

Joe Betz: Thaddeus Young. Look no further than his time missed due to his wrist injury and the way the Pacers played toward the end of the season as his wrist began to fully heal.

Alexander Grant: Jeff Teague.  Playing for his hometown team, he averaged a career high in assists at 7.8 per game, and he also played in ALL 82 games.  He has stated he’d like to stay in Indiana so hopefully the business side of the game allows it.

Ross Blauvelt: Thad Young. Glue guy. Without him due to injury the team slid. Just does it all for this team. Not flashy, but gets it done.

Most Improved Player:

Joe Betz: Myles Turner. He improved in several areas, taking a nice second year bump. The third year leap is needed for the Pacers to compete, however.

Alexander Grant: Glenn Robinson III.  He proved to be a nice rotational piece with a decent jumper.  His trajectory as a player is clearly trending up, and winning the 2017 Slam Dunk Contest put the Pacers in a favorable national spotlight.  He can be a foundational player for the franchise in the foreseeable future.

Derek Kramer: This article from the Bleacher Report gave Myles Turner the title for the entire league as the Most Improved Player based on the metrics of RPM and NBA Math’s TPA, since I already talked Turner up in the previous award section, I’ll let that article do the talking for me here. GR3 with an easy second place. Third place goes to Rakeem Christmas for showing he can potentially be an NBA player for that brief stretch after the All-Star break. You could even argue Paul George with his career highs in scoring and in most shooting categories.

Ross Blauvelt: This one was tough. Either Glenn Robinson III or Myles Turner for me. Have to go GR3. Myles had an amazing start and did progress on year one but regressed in some ways as well. Year 3 will be interesting. Glenn went from end of the bench to major rotation/energy player down the stretch. Oh and Dunk Champion doesn’t hurt.

Best New Addition:

Joe Betz: I give this to Teague. It would be Thaddeus’s to win here if he hadn’t missed time. Teague’s durability was huge.

Alexander Grant: Jeff Teague.  Hopefully he doesn’t leave Indiana, but as an unrestricted Free Agent he will undoubtedly command more than his current $8M/year price tag.  Larry Bird tried to get an extension formalized after trading for Teague, so the interest to stay in “Naptown” appears to be mutual.

Derek Kramer: There are only two choices here: Thad Young or Jeff Teague. Without Thad Young’s wrist injury this would have been much tougher, but the kid from Indianapolis wins this one. Teague had a career year as he heads into free agency.

Ross Blauvelt: Jeff Teague. Starting PG, floor leader. In trading Off for Def in a way in giving up GHill, Jeff produced. Please come back.

Comeback Player of the Year:

Joe Betz: Lance. ‘Nuff said.

Alexander Grant: Lance Stephenson.  The way Stephenson played to end the regular season, along with being stellar in the playoffs makes this category easy.  I can’t help but wonder as a Pacers fan “what could’ve been” if Born Ready was signed earlier in the season.

Ross Blauvelt: Lance, welcome back #BornReady.

Derek Kramer: It took a combination of three injuries and a weird contract quirk to get Lance Stephenson back to the Pacers. Stephenson looked poised to have a consistent role on the Pelicans before his injury forced the Pelicans to waive him due to other injuries, then he sprained his ankle while with the Timberwolves as they decided to move on from him once his 10-day contract expired. Meanwhile in Indiana, Rodney Stuckey suffered another injury that would keep him out for the remainder of the year and because the Pacers could eliminate his player option by waiving him before the end of the season, they decided to move on. All the stars finally aligned for the return of Born Ready, and it was glorious.

Best Game:

Derek Kramer: One of my favorite games this year was the first game against the Oklahoma City Westbrook and friends. No Paul George that night, but so many Pacers stepped up to win a tight game on the road against a good western conference team. Jeff Teague scored 30 points on just 16 shots with 9 assists, while Russell Westbrook had his typical 30-point triple double, but needed 34 shots to get his 30+ that night. The Pacers meanwhile put up a triple double-double as a team: Thaddeus Young had 20 and 10, Myles Turner had 15 and 10, and Glenn Robinson III stepped into the starting lineup and put up 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Joe Betz: Final Raptors game at home. Huge comeback + Lance’s first game back in the Fieldhouse + salty Raptors = happiness. Plus, it was PG13 bobblehead night.

Alexander Grant: There are a lot of games to choose from but I’m probably going against the grain here and choosing the double-OT contest versus the Cavaliers on April 2nd.  It was a disappointing end result, however the game showed the Pacers can compete.  Couple this OT thriller with the playoff matchups, the Pacers showed the were not going to back down from the LeBron-led champs.  The games came down to the wire each time, and they showed there is hope for Indy fans.

Ross Blauvelt: In a loss, it has to be the OT loss to the Cavs. PG vs LBJ. Epic. In a win, first game of the season vs the Mavericks. Showed what Myles’ potential is as he opened the season with 31 points and 16 rebounds.

Best Pass:

Joe Betz: Anytime Monta Ellis successfully moved the ball from his hands to another player.

Best Play:

Alexander Grant: There are multiple candidates for this category. Thaddeus Young had a couple dunks, and Myles Turner can certainly make some stellar defensive plays. However, the game-winning three pointer by GRIII at the Atlanta Hawks on March 5th takes the cake.

Derek Kramer: I was so moved by the game-winning 3-pointer by Glenn Robinson III against the Hawks that I was compelled to write a poem. So, I think I’m obligated to go with that one, even if I’m not a good poet.

Ross Blauvelt: GR3’s game-winning 3 vs the Hawks. His star continues to rise. If it wasn’t that: Then it was up to Thad’s dunk on Terrence Jones or PG’s dunk on Clint Capela. Or better yet, the entire 1st half of Game 3 vs the Cavs! (Editor’s Note: Now, I’m depressed again.)

Most Surprising:

Joe Betz: Nate McMillan’s decision making. From starting Monta Ellis to consistently playing lineups that he knew weren’t working and so much in between, it was a rough first year for McMillan.

Derek Kramer: The Pacers inability to defeat terrible teams. The Pacers lost far too many games this season that should have been won and winning just two of the following games against bottom feeders of the league would have put the Pacers in the 5th-seed this season: Nets, Knicks [twice], Pelicans, Sixers, Suns and Mavericks. Inconsistency was a major issue for the Pacers this season.

Alexander Grant: This Pacers team beat some pretty good Western Conference teams. Granted they only played two matchups apiece, the Pacers did not lose to the Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, or Oklahoma City Thunder.  Definitely surprised me.

Ross Blauvelt: Hiring of Nate. Bird wanted the team to play faster and with a new voice. So they hire Nate McMillan who’s been on the sidelines as an assistant for years and one of the slowest pace coaches on record. Huh?

Most Disappointing:

Joe Betz: Team award. This team had the opportunity to be a top 4 seed, but PG didn’t truly play like an All-Star until after the break, the offense and defense were like shambling Frankenstein monsters, and Al Jefferson’s ankle exploded.

Alexander Grant: The signing of Al Jefferson, and to see him not log a single minute of playing time in the playoffs.  He was a horrible fit with the team, and I’m still wondering why the deal happened in the first place.  The NBA today is spread out and three pointer happy.  Larry Bird knows this and still signed the flat-footed Jefferson.  He is a throwback player that should not be on the roster.

Ross Blauvelt: This team. On paper before the season most fans were super excited at the Pacers chances. With some thinking the #2/3 in the East was in the cards. Then the team was so up and down barely squeaking into the playoffs. Honorable Mention to how poorly Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson played at times.

Derek Kramer: I was a lot more hopeful in Al Jefferson. It was very discouraging to hear Kevin Pritchard say that he thought Big Al was out of shape all season and that was partly why he struggled this year. Not all of the issues were his fault as the roster and coaching didn’t allow him to often be in an advantageous situation with a lack of shooting surrounding him and his paint space being eaten away by Lavoy Allen or Kevin Seraphin for much of the year. Perhaps most disappointing though was his effort on defense. I didn’t expect Al to be good at defense, but so many times he would lazily foul a guard with his arms as he sped past him instead of trying to contest a shot at the rim. Monta Ellis’s rapid decline this season gets second, but his fit with Teague was an obvious issue in the summer.

Please Come Back Award:

Joe Betz: Jeff Teague. Teague’s personality is a bit strange, but he loves Indianapolis, is a top 10 PG talent, and attacks the basket. That’s all I’ve ever wanted…

Alexander Grant: Jeff Teague.  He is about to assess his market value and I hope the Pacers can pay him.  Not only because he had a career year and is a hometown guy; Teague makes the roster more attractive for potential Free Agents (Paul Millsap?!).

Derek Kramer: Paul George will be the obvious answer here next season when he hits free agency if he doesn’t sign an extension this off-season. Teague is the obvious choice this year, but CJ Miles may be as important as bringing Teague back. The Pacers are already thin on shooting with 3J, and after shooting 41% from deep this year he’s in line for a pay raise. He’s been a selfless teammate the last two years as he volunteered to play power forward two years ago and never cared whether he started or came off the bench. The Pacers had a top-5 lineup in the NBA with CJ Miles playing with the starters this season, and they’d do well to keep that unit intact coming into next season.

Ross Blauvelt: Jeff Teague. Outside of the obvious who else would play point guard next year if he’s not brought back (Lance?, Joe Young?!), Jeff played exceptional when the ball was in his hands. Yes, the Pacers give up some defense with him on the floor but his offense at times makes up for that.

 

The Paul George Situation: Should the Pacers be worried?

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

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

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

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

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

The Contract:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rumor Rundown: Paul George situation, Pacers trade targets

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

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

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

Today, the Woj bomb dropped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Paul George should be VERY happy with the new CBA

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

A Good Problem: Finding minutes for Glenn Robinson III

With Paul George and C.J. Miles both out the past two games, Glenn Robinson III has stepped up in their absence and led the team in scoring each of the last two games for the Indiana Pacers.

First, GR3 put up 20 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block while making 4 of his 6 3-point attempts in a landslide victory against the Brooklyn Nets.

In his encore performance against the Los Angeles Clippers, Robinson made 7 of his 9 shots for a team-high 17 points and 6 rebounds.

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

Now as George and Miles are nearing a return to the lineup, the Pacers have a bit of a conundrum. How do they find minutes for their budding young player that seems to be growing in confidence the more he plays while also not creating a disgruntled veteran that gets pushed out of the rotation?

Putting Robinson back on the bench and out of the rotation is simply not an option at this point as he seems to be ready to take on a full-time role at minimum as a backup wing.

McMillan is surely eager to see if Robinson can build on this momentum and keep up his recent level of performance, and here are some options that may be considered by the Pacers coaching staff.

Option 1: Start GR3

One option the Pacers could look at is moving Robinson to the starting shooting guard while moving Monta Ellis to a sixth-man role.

The Pacers briefly had Ellis come off the bench in favor of a scorching Miles, but the experiment only last a single game. Ellis already plays a lot of time leading the second unit and his skill set has always seemed perfect for a sixth-man scorer that could attack opposing benches.

This would be the scenario that gives Robinson the biggest role. Ellis could still end up playing more minutes, but if Robinson can keep up his hot shooting from 3-point land of late he could bring a much needed boost in spacing to that starting lineup.

The challenge for Robinson in this option will be keeping his aggressiveness while playing alongside George. Too often in the past, Robinson has been too passive when given opportunities with the starters, but this has changed in the past two games with Robinson playing with extreme confidence and making quick decisions when he decides to attack. There hasn’t been any hesistation when he gets a chance to shoot.

He’s still picking his spots, but has been very efficient in the past two games, shooting 68% from the field (13 of 19). Obviously, this is not a sustainable percentage, but he can continue to build up his 44% shooting from the field and 34% shooting from deep, he’ll be valuable as a floor spacer for the starters.

Robinson is also a better defense option for this lineup as it gives the Pacers more size to go against teams with bigger guards. This has been a problem with Ellis in certain matchups. A perfect example being the game against the Charlotte Hornets where Michael Kidd-Gilchrist destroyed Ellis in the post repeatedly to begin the game as the Hornets took advantage of that match up over and over again early.

The problem with Ellis coming off the bench is then what do the Pacers do with Aaron Brooks and Rodney Stuckey. Miles is locked in as the backup small forward once he’s healthy. So backup minutes at the guard positions would have to be split between three players: Ellis, Stuckey, and Brooks.

McMillan would likely end up benching Brooks, who is by far the best shooter of the group, and the Ellis, Stuckey combo would have many of the same issues that Ellis, Teague as a pair have (both need the ball, both aren’t great as floor spacers off the ball, small defenders).

Option 2: Glenn Robinson III, backup wing

Robinson gets a rotation spot while coming off the bench as a backup option at both the wing positions. C.J. Miles will likely still play more time in this scenario, especially if he comes back shooting as well as he has so far this season. The Pacers have been much better this season with Ellis on the floor than off so keeping him with starters isn’t a terrible option.

The problem that this creates is the same as the previous one. What does McMillan do with Stuckey and Brooks?

The only way to still play both of them would be to give Miles and Robinson some time as a small-ball power forward and eliminate some or all of Lavoy Allen’s minutes.

While this may sound appealing, Miles has serious durability issues already and playing the power forward spot wore him down quickly last season, and the Pacers do tend to rebound better with Allen on the floor, which has been a weakness of this team.

Once again, this will have to lead to benching of Stuckey or Brooks, who both have had some decent moments this season.

Option 3: Larry Bird finds a trade partner for Stuckey, Ellis, or Brooks.

If the Pacers truly believe that Robinson is ready for a permanent, contributing role, then Larry Bird should be searching for any takers for either Stuckey, Ellis, or Brooks.

None of these players are going to be hot commodities in the trade market. Hoping for some team to offer a first-round pick for one of these players is highly unlikely, but looking for a backup power forward (Omri Casspi, perhaps?) is possible or maybe the Pacers can get an offer of a second-round pick or two.

Trading away one of these players opens up an obvious spot for GR3 to slide right into and avoid having a veteran becoming disgruntled while spending all of his time on the bench.

The risk in trading one of these players away becomes an issue if Robinson can’t continue this level of performance and loses confidence.

If the Pacers think Robinson’s ready to roll, he needs to have consistent playing time, and McMillan will have to make changes to the rotation once everyone’s healthy to keep him on the court and off the bench.

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

ESPN reports Pacers, Kings have discussed Rudy Gay deal

Yesterday, there were some rumblings from unreliable sources and today Marc Stein of ESPN has reported that the Pacers and Kings have discussed a potential deal that would send Rudy Gay to the Pacers.

Continue reading ESPN reports Pacers, Kings have discussed Rudy Gay deal

Pacers Summer League Preview

The Indiana Pacers announced their roster for the Orlando Summer League earlier this week. The roster features many familiar faces including five players likely to suit up for the blue and gold next season and will be coached by Popeye Jones, Pacers assistant coach. The team will play five games that will run through the heart of the NBA free agency madness from July 2 through July 8 (Pacers schedule below). No one’s playing in the Summer League without something to prove and we’ll look at what some of the key players on the roster need to work on.  Continue reading Pacers Summer League Preview

Will the Pacers re-sign any of their free agents?

The Pacers have already made some major changes to their roster in the early stages of the off-season: trading George Hill for Jeff Teague in a 3-team deal and trading their 1st-round pick for Thaddeus Young. If the Pacers sign 2nd-round pick Georges Niang, that’ll put the Pacers roster at 13 players under contract for next season with only two open roster spots left. The Pacers have four free agents from last year’s team: Ian Mahinmi, Solomon Hill, Jordan Hill, and Ty Lawson. Let’s take a look at each player and the likelihood that the Pacers will retain their services for the 2016-17 season.  Continue reading Will the Pacers re-sign any of their free agents?

CONFIRMED: Paul George is the cover athlete for NBA 2K17

UPDATE: 9:10 PM EST 2K has confirmed via their feed of their “Road to the Finals” tournament that Paul George is the cover athlete for the standard edition of NBA 2K17. 

Paul George said he was excited for the opportunity especially since he’s been a player of the video game for a long time. “This is part of being in the NBA,” said George. “Wanting to get the cover. Wanting to be the best.”

In an item that has since been removed from PlayStation’s website, a pre-order for the NBA 2k17 game was available for PS4, including 2 Kobe-inspired legend editions, along with the regular edition. The cover athlete for this edition is to be announced tomorrow evening, but Sony may have let the cat out of the bag early as the pre-order page shows Paul George as the cover athlete.

https://twitter.com/its_whitney/status/737779841571782656

Continue reading CONFIRMED: Paul George is the cover athlete for NBA 2K17

Paul George earns All-Defensive Second Team selection

The NBA announced their All-Defensive Teams today and the Pacers had one player selected to the Second Team: Paul George.

It was a close call for George. He had the least amount of points and first-team votes of any of the ten players selected. Jae Crowder nearly overtook George, but lost out on the final forward spot by one point (48-47). Two players that were not among the ten selected actually finished ahead of George in points, but Rudy Gobert (64) plays Center and Klay Thompson (49) is listed as a guard.  Continue reading Paul George earns All-Defensive Second Team selection

Solobling: How Solomon Hill went from benchwarmer to free agent commodity

In the span of two seasons, Solomon Hill went from leading all Indiana Pacers players in minutes to being stuck to the bench and from having Larry Bird waive the 4th-year team option on his cheap rookie deal to becoming a crucial part of the Pacers rotation down the stretch and in the playoffs.

This Solocoaster of sorts (please, forgive me) has been a bumpy ride for Hill, but his late season performance has more than likely put him out of the Pacers price range if they want to retain him. Here’s a look at his past two seasons with some lyrics from the Hotline Bling parody, “SoloBling,” sprinkled in throughout.

In 2014-2015 as Hill started 78 games and led the Pacers in minutes, his performance was mediocre at best; while he averaged 8.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, he also had a Pacers-worst -9.6 on/off rating. He played his usual solid defense, made the occasional surprising forceful drive to the rim for a dunk, and struggled mightily with his jump shot (shot under 40% for the season).

🎶  Ever since the Summer League,
I wasn’t in the rotation as a wing now.
Everybody played and I felt left out,
but GR3 too young, and where is Chase now?
🎶

Continue reading Solobling: How Solomon Hill went from benchwarmer to free agent commodity

Flagrant 2 missed in Game 7 according to the NBA

You know that missed call that everyone was talking about at the end of Game 7? The NBA thinks that wasn’t the only thing missed by the referees in the 4th quarter.

The NBA announced today that Bismack Biyombo has been assessed with a Flagrant-2 foul from a play with 11:18 remaining in the 4th quarter. The foul was assessed for hitting Myles Turner in the head or neck area.

Here’s the play, courtesy of Scott AgnessContinue reading Flagrant 2 missed in Game 7 according to the NBA

Larry Bird undecided on Frank Vogel’s future with Pacers

UPDATE: Larry Bird made it official. Frank Vogel will not be the coach for the Indiana Pacers next season.

Last night, seemingly immediately after the Pacers season ended in a defeat to the Toronto Raptors, the offseason drama began for the Pacers with a Woj Bomb.

“Wait, what?” was the general reaction for Pacers writers, bloggers, and fans as well as the national media. Although Vogel was deservedly criticized at times for his rotations (STAGGER!) and inept offense especially late in games, he’s still a top young coach in the league. He’s a defensive wizard.  Continue reading Larry Bird undecided on Frank Vogel’s future with Pacers

How the Pacers have fared in past Game 7s

The Indiana Pacers face off in a series-deciding Game 7 tonight against the Toronto Raptors. In their NBA history, the Pacers are 3-4 in Game 7s, including 2-4 on the road. Here’s a brief overview of each one:

1994 Eastern Conference Finals

Indiana Pacers 90, New York Knicks 94


The first of the team’s Game 7s in their NBA History, the Pacers and Knicks faced off in the playoffs for the second-straight season. One of the epic series battles chronicled in one of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries: Winning Time. The Pacers came up short in this one, losing 94-90. Reggie Miller led both teams in scoring with 25 points.  Continue reading How the Pacers have fared in past Game 7s

Mahinmi puts team on his ailing back, Pacers tie series 2-2

In the first three games of the series, the Pacers offense was essentially a one-man show: Paul George. After losing two straight games, Pacers coach Frank Vogel had a simple message for his team: “Trust your teammates.”

“The message before the game was to really move the ball and play for each other,” Ian Mahinmi said. “That’s what we did from the very first minute.”

The results? The Pacers blitzed the Raptors early to a first-quarter lead of 28-14 and never looked back as they tied the series at 2-2 with a 100-83 victory.

“Everyone has to be options for us, offensive threats,” Paul George said after the game. “Tonight, they were, and we exploded on offense.”

The two biggest benefactors to the Pacers devotion to sharing the ball were Ian Mahinmi and George Hill, who went from scoring 40 points combined in the first three games to scoring 44 points combined (a team-high 22 points a piece) in game four as they both had perhaps their best games of the season.

“I can’t take credit for this today,” Mahinmi said of the best game of his career. “Most of my shots were dunks and shots under the rim … my teammates really did an awesome job of finding me.” Continue reading Mahinmi puts team on his ailing back, Pacers tie series 2-2