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Tag:Indiana Pacers
Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:08 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 11:50 pm
 

NBA lockout news sweeps through Las Vegas gym

Posted by Ben Golliver

sebastian-telfair-waiting

LAS VEGAS -- A giant banner spans the entire baseline and rises some 20 feet into the air at Impact Basketball's Competitive Training Series. In full color, it depicts a player holding a basketball and screams a simple message in all capital letters: "POWER TO THE PEOPLE."

Given the news out of New York City on Tuesday, a day that saw labor talks between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association go nowhere, the "people" in Las Vegas, the dozens of professional basketball players assembled here to train and go through organized, five-on-five scrimmages, felt fairly powerless.

The news from New York spread throughout the gym rapidly via text message and tweets shortly after the games began, and it was met with frustration, anger and nervousness from some of the players present. Others maintained appearances and downplayed the day's events, but word that no progess had been made and that there was no immediate next step in the talks definitely hit with a thud at Impact.

"It sucks," said free agent point guard Sebastian Telfair bluntly. "[I'm feeling] sadness and frustration. This is our lives, our livelihoods, this is how we make our living. Guys are not going to be able to play basketball. We all love to play basketball, we all like to compete. Everyone likes to go out there and try to play for the gold. Right now, we're not getting the opportunity to do that."

Telfair, who is 26 years old and played for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, heard about the news via text message from his agent just minutes after stepping off the court. He said Tuesday that he badly wants to catch on with a contender next season but knows that can't happen until the proper compromises are reached. "I was hoping for something," Telfair said. "At least move and agree on some things and then the things that the NBA and the Players Association don't agree on, then we can argue about that. But I think the first step for the lockout is for us to agree on something."

The worst part is that Telfair seems to feel a bit trapped. A natural communicator and ever vocal on the court, calling defensive assignments and yelling encouragement to himself, Telfair struggled for words when asked to lay out what he can do to prepare himself in the event that the lockout leads to a work stoppage.

"There's not too many ways you can prepare yourself," Telfair said. "Either you can go take a job overseas or other than that… you sit and wait. I don't really have the other answers. Just stay in shape. Sit and wait. And when they do make an agreement, just be ready."

While he admitted that a work stoppage now seems like a "legit possibility," Telfair clearly would prefer a resolution sooner rather than later, calling the waiting game "brutal."

"We've got a lot of free agents, like myself, all that business is on hold right now," Telfair explained. "A lot of guys don't know what team they're going to be playing with or what. We need to get this thing jumping off fast."

Isaiah Thomas, a 22-year-old second round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings who has yet to sign a contract officially, couldn't agree more. Thomas admitted that the lack of progress on Tuesday, which he heard about on Twitter, is starting to make him "a little bit" nervous. 

"I'm mad, angry, because it feels like I'm still in college right now," Thomas said. "I made that decision [to skip his senior season] and I got drafted but nothing has changed. I've got to just patiently wait. Keep it in God's hands and hopefully it works out. Time is ticking. I've been patiently waiting. Hopefully if the time comes, I can get an NBA paycheck and be able to play and put on an NBA uniform." 

Knowing what to expect from next season and having a contract in hand would seem to ease some of the frustration that Telfair and Thomas are describing. Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, for example, raised his voice and picked at his toes while discussing the league's ongoing labor talks, but was clear that he is not frustrated.

"We just riding under Billy Hunter right now," Allen said, expressing support for the Executive Director of the NBPA. "We're just hoping the league can negotiate with us and we can get this thing back going."

If not frustration, though, Allen, 29 and signed through next season and one more, did admit to feeling some "urgency."

"I know they need to get it done," Allen, a key member of a Grizzlies team that knocked off the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference playoffs, said. "I ain't here to say who is right and who is wrong but I am here to say, considering the run the Memphis Grizzlies had, I hope we get it back started soon. Keep our momentum going. We definitely put winning in our franchise this year, and having a lockout kind of put a dent in things. ... I understand commissioner David Stern and our player rep Billy Hunter both know what they want, but at the end of the day both sides have to agree to something. That's where we are at right now."

If only it were that simple. But there was one calm, steady voice among the group: Indiana Pacers forward and player representative Dahntay Jones.

With the media chatting and gossiping over the doom and gloom scenarios being floated in the wake of comments made by NBA commissioner David Stern and NBPA president Derek Fisher, Jones kept a relaxed, straight face, and made it clear that the frustration was understandable, but not all that meaningful.

"It's a part of negotiations," Jones, 30, said. "Any negotiation is going to get frustrating... We're happy with our representation at the meetings. We're prepared for the situation. We're prepared for what could possibly happen. We've been ready for it. It's not [anything] new. We know what the worst and the best outcome could be. We're waiting patiently."

He dismissed the most hysterical reactions as an unavoidable byproduct of the attention given to these negotiations and the level of investment that so many people feel towards the league.

"That's the media in general," Jones explained. "You can't believe everything you hear. Everything is spun off. That's just what happens with word of mouth, when stories get shared between people, things get changed sometimes. No media is in the meetings so they really can't give us everything that's going on."

Jones said he would get a full, accurate rundown of the current state of the talks on Thursday, when the players are set to meet at an undisclosed location in Las Vegas. He said he expects that meeting, like previous meetings, to be an informational status report and nothing more.

"Business as usual," Jones said. "There's no need for emotion in a situation like this... Every time we have a meeting, it's a business meeting."

Business meeting or not, time is ticking and alternate plans are being made. Telfair said he is "bound to the USA" and will only go overseas as a very last resort. Thomas said he has enrolled in three classes at the University of Washington and will work out in Seattle if there's a prolonged lockout. Jones would only say that he would "evaluate" his options as the process continues. Allen, like Telfair, wants to stay stateside.

"My audible is just to stay over here," he said. "I love the American game. I been doing that for the last seven years. [The wait] ain't got boring. That's my job. I don't know who could get tired of playing, doing something they love. I love playing basketball, that's why I'm out here playing right now."

The love of the game was a common theme among all the players, but surely it's alright to love getting paid to play the game too, right?

"I don't play for the money, I play for the love," Allen declared, finally and forcefully, ice packs taped to his left knee and right ankle. "Whenever I start playing for the wrong reasons, I know that's when it's time to quit."

The rest of the NBA's players, at least those who haven't already bolted for overseas, would do well to adopt Allen's philosophy, at least for the time being. They might as well.

Because power comes from leverage which, in turn, comes from options. And the people just don't have many good ones right now.

Posted on: September 5, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

Posted by Royce Young



Conference realignment has sort of taken over the world the past few weeks. Texas A&M pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the Big 12 by bolting for the SEC and because of it, a whole new chain of events have tipped over. The landscape of college football could look a whole lot different in a few months. Or in a few weeks. Or even tomorrow.

But you know what else could use a little realigning? The NBA's divisions. They're kind of a mess. It's not going to be as a result of some $300 million network, recruiting ties or competitive advantages. Nope. For the NBA, it's more just about common sense. Geographically, the divisions are kind of a mess. In 2011 that's not as huge a deal as it was in 1981 because travel is much easier. You can go from Portland to Oklahoma City in just a few hours.

However, chartered travel is experience. Fuel is very pricey. And with the NBA and teams supposedly losing so much money, why not exhaust every option to cut costs and realign the divisions so they make a lot more sense? Why not group teams together that are hundreds, not thousands, of miles apart?

Plus, it just makes a lot more sense to have structured regions. Grouping teams together based on geography does more to forge rivalries, gives fans a chance to commute between games if the want to and gives the players less travel and more days of rest. All good, right?

So if you're going to spend all this time restructuring a new collective bargaining agreement, why not fix the divisions too? Here's how they should look:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

SOUTHWEST
Dallas
San Antonio
Houston
Phoenix
Oklahoma City

The NBA's new Southwest division is the American League East, the SEC West, of the league. It's a group of five teams that are all pretty good. Things change though and in 15 years, this could be the weakest division in the league. But for now, it'd be pretty good.

And it just makes sense. Dallas and Oklahoma City are about three hours via car away from each other. San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are in the same state. And OKC and the Texas teams and Phoenix just have one state separating them, which is a whole lot better than five.

MIDWEST
Memphis
Minnesota
Denver
Utah
Milwaukee

Clearly the division that needed the biggest overhaul is the Northwest, mainly because of the Sonics transformation into the Oklahoma City Thunder. When the team was in Seattle, the division made a lot more sense. Now it doesn't. That's why a midwestern division with makes a lot more sense.

That creates somewhat of a problem in the Northwest though. There's not a great fit. So for the sake of the argument, the Northwest has to make the Big 12 and peace out. No more Northwest, but instead the new Midwest.

The new Midwest is still a bit spread out, but all the teams are at least located somewhat centrally in the country. A trip from Utah to Milwaukee won't be quick, but the Jazz, Nuggets and Timerwolves have been oddballs in the Northwest. It's not an ideal division with teams right next door to each other, but it makes a lot more sense than the current setup.

PACIFIC
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento
Golden State
Portland

Moving Phoenix away from the Lakers is a bummer, because those two teams are historical rivals that have always competed in the same division. But if A&M and Texas can separate, I think we can live with the Suns and Lakers moving apart.

The Pacific now features five teams that are actually next to the Pacific Ocean, which seems like it should count for something. Plus having the Blazers and Lakers together makes up for separating the Suns and Lakers.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

CENTRAL
Chicago
Detroit
Indiana
Cleveland
Toronto

Really, the new Central was the inspiration for this. Why aren't the Raptors in this division? Look at how close those teams are to each other. I think you could almost ride your bike between arenas. The old Central was really good too -- maybe better -- but the Bucks have to move. So it's the Raptors who replace them and the solid geographic setup remains.

ATLANTIC
Boston
New York
Philadelphia
Washington
New Jersey

Nothing too radical here. Five cities that you can transport between using a train. Old rivalries are preserved and the Wizards are added, which frankly, makes a lot of sense.

SOUTHEAST
Miami
Orlando
Atlanta
Charlotte
New Orleans

Two teams would swap conferences with the Bucks moving back to the West and the Hornets heading to the East. Not that this would upset the competitive balance of the league or anything, but it just makes a lot more sense for the Hornets to be placed in a division with Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami.

And let me add this: If college football has no issue tossing tradition and historical rivalries out the window, why not just eliminate conferences all together? It would be a radical move, but what's the point of the East and West, other than just that's the structure of the playoffs? If it were one unified "super" conference, that would finally solve the issues of a 50-win Western team missing the postseason while a 37-win Eastern team slips into the eight-seed.

You could even just build the league into three 10-team divisions. Combine the Southwest and the Pacific, the Midwest and the Central, and the Atlantic and the Southeast. There are your super-divisions. Now you can keep teams playing more in their division than anything else and cut down on long road trips. It would make a West coast road trip for the Mavericks a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

Basically, we'd be looking at a league with three sub-conferences and once the playoffs started, seeding would just be based from that. Almost like the NCAA tournament, you could set two regions and seed from there. Head-to-head tiebreakers, division records and all that stuff would separate any identical records. Just an idea while we're brainstorming, you know?

(Note: I don't really love that idea, quite honestly. But I was just throwing it out there. One of those things that probably makes sense, but wouldn't ever happen. Much like Bill Simmons' terrific "Entertaining As Hell Tournament." Really, a unified conference makes it easier to implicate the tournament too.)

Let's face it: The West has kind of sort of dominated the past decade. Sports operate in cycles, but if there's a way to prevent that, should we? The West compiled a record of 2,257-1,643 against the East from 1999-2008 and over the last 13 seasons has represented 10 champions. That's pretty dominant. That'll change eventually, but what really is the point of the conferences, other than the standard, "that's just the way it's always been done" answer? 

All that is after the fact though: Divisional realignment is the start. Fixing the structure of the postseason would be the ideal next step. It's kind of like a plus-one for college football. Maybe a pipe dream, but something that's really in the best interest of the game. But if anything's to be done, it's to realign the divisions so they at least make a little more sense. Preserve rivalires, start new ones, save money, cut down on travel and hopefully, help the league grow a little bit more.

Picture via Jockpost
Posted on: August 18, 2011 9:32 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 9:42 am
 

Report: Reggie Miller on list for Bird successor

By Matt Moore

Indiana won't have Larry Bird to kick around forever. (And by "kick around" we mean "revere and overlook mistakes for.") Bird has made strong hints in the past that he's headed out the door sooner rather than later, despite having committed to the 2011-2012 season (should there be one). And in that instance, what's the plan for who takes over the Good Ship Pacers? Yahoo! Sports reports that a familiar face could be the next to helm the franchise. 
Simon has been canvassing people he respects – including his longtime former general manager Donnie Walsh – for opinions about how they believe Miller would do with the transition from television to management. Several people with longstanding ties to Miller and the Pacers are pushing Miller to pursue the job, and as one tells Yahoo! Sports: “He’s going to look hard at this, if it’s presented in the right way.”

Simon has considered this possibility for several years, sources said, and thinks the timing could be right to groom Miller to run his basketball operations. This is likely Miller’s one chance to ever run a team. And where else would he rather do it, but in the city, the state, where he became basketball royalty?
via Pacers owner eyes Miller to run team - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

Miller's not a popular announcer, often thought to provide too many obvious or goofy comments. But in Indiana, he's god-like. Miller has a number of things going for him which would make this a smart move. For starter's, he may not be popular with the players but he'll have their respect, as either an all-time great the kids are familiar with or as a player many veterans played with or against. He obviously has pretty good leadership skills, and a high-character roster is something he'd value, which is incredibly important for fans in Indiana, apparently.

But Miller doesn't hae any experience with the job. He may be fully familiar with the workings of the CBA (since everyone's probably starting from scratch on the next one anyway), but there's still a learning curve.  One thing that might help with that? Yahoo! reports that Simon the Owner is interested in bringing back Donnie Walsh, currently advising the New York Knicks after getting sick of dealing with everything Knicks-related (and New-York-media related, it seems). Walsh could give Miller the guidance necessary to become a great executive. It would be good for Pacers fans, good for Miller, and good for those that aren't a fan of him on the mic. Whether it works out is of course the bigger question. 

Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:47 am
 

Danny Granger wants better for Indy at PF

By Matt Moore

The Indiana Pacers are working on building off of momentum. They made the playoffs and gave a good show against the Bulls. With Darren Collison, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and Danny Granger, and now adding George Hill, they're in a position to look for a player to get them to the next level. In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, Danny Granger, resident Indiana star, Granger identified several free agents he'd like to see added to the team, and these aren't exactly value pick-ups. He wants the big guns.  
Q: Free agency will be a lot shorter once the lockout ends. What area do you guys need to address most?

GRANGER: I think with what's on the market at power forward, we have the opportunity to go get one of them. David West, Nene and Carl Landry are available. There are some good power forwards out there. I think we need to be deeper at that position.
via Q&A: Pacers' Danny Granger frustrated with NBA lockout | The Indianapolis Star | indystar.com.

West has been linked with the Pacers in the past, as has Landry. Nene is widely thought to be joining a contender if he doesn't return to Denver in a mega-deal. These are all bigger names, along with Glen Davis that make up a strong power forward free agency class.

It's notable that Granger played 18 percent of his minutes last season at power forward, and that Tyler Hansbrough proved to be a suitable option at the position. Granger's public support of an upgrade doesn't speak well to Hansbrough keeping the spot. Of course, how much money Herb Simon will want to commit to the team given its eight-seed status isnt' known at this point, nor is it known how much money will be available for the Pacers to spend under the new CBA, of course. But Granger's comments do speak of the direction of the Pacers, or what Granger thinks it should be, which is a move away from youth and towards veterans that can help them contend.  
Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:30 pm
 

Reports: Indiana Pacers part ways with scouts

Posted by Ben Golliverlarry-bird-pacers

Not even Larry Legend is immune to the NBA lockout blues.

Indiana Pacers president and Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird's organization got bit by the lockout bug this week, as the Pacers reportedly laid off three long-time scouts to trim their budget.

Yahoo! Sports has more.
In another lockout-related cost-cutting move, the Indiana Pacers have let go of three veteran scouts, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Joe Ash, Leonard Perry and Brian Winters didn’t have their contracts renewed for the 2011-12 season.

“I had a great run there with Larry Bird, and appreciated the opportunity to work with Larry and the Pacers,” Ash told Yahoo! Sports when reached at his Naples, Fla., home on Monday. “I would’ve liked to continue, but I understand the nature of the business. Hopefully something else will turn up once [the lockout] gets sorted out.”
IndyStar.com reports that the moves were not publicly forecasted, as Jim Morris, the team's Sports and Entertainment President, said earlier this summer that there wouldn't be layoffs because of the lockout.

The moves come at a critical juncture for the Pacers future. In our summer Roster Rankings, Indiana placed No. 10 in the league thanks to a young core that includes Roy Hibbert, George Hill, Darren Collison and Paul George. The team also boasts Danny Granger and cap space to make a splash during the next free agency period.

The Pacers are one major signing and a tweak or two from being long-term players in the Eastern Conference. It makes sense that their basketball operations focus would shift from scouting college players to focusing on pro personnel, and the organization recently hired former Portland Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard to assist in that effort.

Still, this is almost certainly simple belt-tightening. The Pacers ranked dead last in average home attendance last season and their gate receipts are well below league average, while ownership reports that it has sustained heavy losses for years.
Posted on: July 10, 2011 9:06 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 9:46 pm
 

Carl Landry eyes Pacers, Bucks in free agency

Forward Carl Landry says he's considering the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks in free agency. Posted by Ben Golliver. carl-landry

We tend to forget that there are two, not just one, New Orleans Hornets power forwards hitting the free agent market this summer.

While former All-Star David West checks in at No. 2 overall on the CBSSports.com free agency tracker, the often-overlooked Carl Landry made the top 20. And in a JCOnline.com article, Landry lets it be known that he, like West, plans to fully test the free agency waters, whenever the NBA lockout ends.
"I'm sure the lockout will end one day. I just don't know when. A lot of guys are trying to play overseas and make a little extra cash while this lockout is going on, but unfortunately in my case, I'm a free agent, so the smart thing for me is not looking into going overseas.

"Playing in New Orleans is fine. I'm comfortable there. I'm glad to be there. I feel like I was a productive player in their rotation. I brought something to the table every night. I feel wanted there.

"But I would play in Indiana for the Pacers, and I'm from Milwaukee, so I wouldn't mind going back there. You just never know where I will end up."
It's fair to say that the fates of West and Landry are tied pretty closely together. The Hornets have pledged to do pretty much whatever it takes to keep West. If they deliver on that promise and he agrees to run it back with the Hornets, there likely won't be enough money leftover to secure Landry for the long haul as well.

On the flipside, if West decides to walk, New Orleans' back-up plan would seem to be the undersized Landry, who was acquired from the Sacramento Kings in a midseason deal. Landry performed solidly in the playoffs, battling the longer, more athletic Los Angeles Lakers to put up postseason averages of 16.8 points and 5.0 rebounds. He doesn't have West's overall talent, but he has energy, determination, defensive versatility and good instincts. 

The intrigue grows a bit when Landry specifically mentions the Pacers, but that's a team that's often been linked to interest in West, given their large cap space, desire to add a top-level free agent and a hole at the starting four spot. The Pacers could find themselves setttling for Landry if West decides to stay with the Hornets or jumps ship to a more ready-made contender. His motor would fit in well with the developing ethos in Indiana, and he is likely to come at a far cheaper price, potentially allowing Indiana to spend its cap space dollars acquiring another mid-tier free agent.

Landry's numbers took a hit last year from his career season in 2009-2010 after his playing time decreased, but his reputation as a crafty scorer and worker has been established. His best fit might be as a team's first big man off the bench, but there's a good chance someone will pay him to be their starting power forward. Outside of West, the other top available free agent power forwards competing for dollars with Landry include Glen Davis, Kris Humphries, Jeff Green, Josh McRoberts and Kenyon Martin. Landry stacks up nicely with that group, as each of those players comes with questions. His size will always be a knock, but his toughness and age -- he's 27, ready to enter his prime -- should ensure a solid payday, regardless of which team ends up signing his checks next year. 


Posted on: July 9, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:39 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Central Division

A look at what is at stake for the NBA's Central Division if a whole season was lost due to the lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

derrick-rose-dunk

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division and the Atlantic Division. Let's continue this series with the Central Division.  

CHICAGO Bulls


The Bulls won the Central by a preposterous margin in 2010-2011, stacking up a league-high 62 wins and burying their division mates by a ridiculous 25 games, by far the biggest margin of any division winner. Nothing has happened yet this offseason which suggests next year's results will be any different. Even if the Milwaukee Bucks return to full health or the Indiana Pacers make a key free agent addition or the Detroit Pistons finally emerge from their slog or the Cleveland Cavaliers successfully start the Kyrie Irving era, the only thing stopping the Bulls from running away from the competition again is an injury to Derrick Rose. The Bulls are, by far, the most talented and deepest team in the division. They have the reigning MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. They're poised to be championship title contenders for the next five years.

With so much going for them, the Bulls clearly have the most to lose in a lockout. If a season is lost, that's a title chase that evaporates. Perhaps most important, the Bulls would lose that visceral desire for redemption that comes with the ugly end to their season. It was a disappointing, frustrating loss to their new archrivals, the Miami Heat, in the Eastern Conference Finals. The pain of that loss subsides with time. It's ability to serve as unifying inspiration will fade too. The Bulls want revenge and they want rings. The pieces are in place. Besides aging teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, who face the possibility of their championship window closing, the Bulls don't want to sit around and wait. They created some amazing chemistry last season, built strong trust bonds. Losing a season risks all of that.

INDIANA PACERS

The upstart Pacers are up to something: they finally committed to Frank Vogel as their coach, they brought on former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard to serve as Director of Player Personnel, they made a solid draft day trade to acquire point guard George Hill and they sit on a mound of cap space ready to make a splash in free agency. The Pacers risk two things if a season is lost. First, a critical development year to see how their young pieces are able to gel together. Second, A feeling of certainty in terms of team expectations.

Indiana has assembled some nice, young talent: Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison, Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough and Hill are all 25 or younger. Depending on how they use their cap space and whether they decide to move Danny Granger, that has all the makings of a promising core that could reliably make playoff runs for the foreseeable future. But the group needs time to spend together, reps to get things right and an evaluation period to see whether all four belong long-term. They look great on paper but more data -- playing together -- is needed. A lost season risks that and potentially stalls the development of those younger guys.

The real risk is free agency. Indiana has just $36 million committed in salary next season, meaning they have one of the smallest payrolls in the league. They also have an expiring contract in James Posey to move and potentially could move Granter if they were looking to make a major splash. Their combination of flexibility and talent on-hand is near the tops in the league when it comes to rebuilding teams. A delayed season pushes that promise back and while teams with space are definitely sitting in a better position than teams without space, it's unclear what additional rules might be in place that inhibit free agent movement. If you're the Pacers you'd prefer to be able to chase a guy like David West now without any messy collective bargaining negotiations getting in the way. Put simply, the Pacers are a team on the rise, but a lot has to go right for young teams to reach their potential. Even minor things can throw a team off course. The less variables, the better. Unfortunately, the CBA is a major, major variable.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

lockoutThis team is just confusing. The Stephen Jackson trade made a bit of sense, given that the Bucks needed a serviceable alternative to Brandon Jennings at point guard and got one in Beno Udrih, but this group isn't going anywhere meaningful, not even if Jennings and center Andrew Bogut are fully healthy. 

About the only thing lost in a lockout for the Bucks is another year for Jennings to bloom. His sophomore years was sidetracked by injuries and poor outside shooting, and he questioned his teammates' desire to win at the end of the regular season. Other than Jennings, Larry Sanders and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could use more developmental minutes but the rest of the roster is essentially veterans who have reached their potential. 

From a cynical standpoint, Bucks ownership could be cheering a lost season because it would mean cash savings on ugly deals for Jackson and big man Drew Gooden. Is it worth saving the combined $15 million that will go to Jackson and Gooden in 2011-2012 to lose a year of floor leadership training for Jennings? 

DETROIT PISTONS

The Pistons are another confounding mess, but at least it feels like they've turned a corner thanks to the sale of the team, the departure of reviled coach John Kuester and the drafting of point guard Brandon Knight and wing Kyle Singler. Last year was one, long, ugly grind. 2011-2012 figures to be a step in the right direction.

Knight slipped out of the top five of the 2011 NBA Draft because of questions about his position. Is he a pure point guard? Can he run an NBA offense? Will he be able to execute something besides the pick-and-roll game? His future is incredibly bright but as a one-and-done player he absolutely needs as much playing time as possible to get a feel for the NBA style and to get comfortable with the ball in his hands and a team of professionals that look to him first. There's no other way to learn the point guard position than by on-the-job training, and recent success stories like Rose and Russell Westbrook only reinforce that idea. A year away from the game at this stage would be a critical loss for Knight and the Pistons, and that's a major risk.

The same is true, to a lesser degree, for big man Greg Monroe, who came on strong in the second half of his rookie season and appears to be a potential core piece going forward. 2011-2012 is all about letting Knight and Monroe build up a chemistry together 

A lost season would certainly be welcomed by ownership here too because Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva all failed to live up to their big-dollar contract figures last season. Hamilton and Villanueva, in particular, seem like lost causes. Weighing the savings from these deals versus the lost development of Knight, the Pistons should probably be pretty close to indifferent when it comes to losing a season. They need work, they know they need work and the rebuild can only come as these big contracts get closer to their conclusion and become more tradeable. Still, it would seem to be better to continue that journey with Knight getting more familiar and comfortable day-by-day, month-by-month than it would having him workout solo in a gym somewhere. If you've committed to a rebuild, start it immediately.
 
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Last but not least, we have the Cavaliers, the NBA's second-worst team from last season, who endured an embarrasing 26 game losing streak to set an NBA record for consecutive futility. There's significant light at the end of the tunnel for the Cavaliers, as they have an owner committed to spending money to win, the 2011 NBA Draft's No. 1 overall pick, Kyrie Irving, and Tristan Thompson, who was taken No. 4 overall. 

Cleveland is in much the same position as the Pistons: the biggest risk from losing a season is the lost reps that Irving won't get running the show. There are always some bumps and bruises for a young point guard transitioning from college to the NBA, and the potential for struggles is even more pronounced in Irving's case because he missed much of last season, his freshman year at Duke University, with a foot injury. Time away from the game is not good. The shorter, the better. Irving was clearly the most NBA-ready point guard in this year's draft crop and the Cavaliers would be smart to turn the keys over to him from Day 1, even with veterans Baron Davis, Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions on the roster as well. 

That raises a secondary risk of the lockout season for the Cavaliers: losing positional clarity. Cleveland clearly needs to move one, if not two, of their point guards to clear the deck for Irving and surround him with some solid complementary pieces. A lost season just delays that process. Saving the money from Davis' contract is tempting, but it's a non-factor for owner Dan Gilbert who would just as soon pay that tax to watch his young team start the rebuild. Along those same lines, an entire season lost could mean the Cavaliers aren't able to move Antawn Jamison's $15 million expiring contract, a nice trade asset that could potentially bring a rotation player in return.

Posted on: July 8, 2011 11:31 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Report: Kevin Pritchard to join Pacers

Posted by Matt Moore

Kevin Pritchard has surprisingly been out of pro basketball for a bit. Pritchard, the assistant GM and later general manager of the Blazers' resurgence, was known for his uncanny ability to create beneficial trades that netted good young asset after good young asset.

He was fired in 2010 for, well ... whatever it is Paul Allen fires people for (also known as the Cho Effect). Perhaps Pritchard's most notable mistake was drafting Greg Oden over Kevin Durant, which wouldn't have been so bad had the Basketball Gods not have it in for Oden. Or at least his knees. 

Pritchard didn't pop up in a new position right away, fueling talk that it was his stubborn approach and "arrogant" attitude, as several Portland reports suggested, that talked his way out of a job.

But it would appear his time in purgatory has come to an end. Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star reports that the Pacers are "in the process of hiring" Pritchard to work with Larry Bird, president of Basketball Operations, and General Manager David Morway. Yahoo! Sports reports that his title will be "Director of Player Personnel."

Pritchard has worked with the Pacers in the past, including in the past year. He's very tight with that organization, so this isn't really a shock. It's conceivable with Bird very much on the fence about his future past this season that Pritchard could be putting himself in line to take the reins once Bird retires. Morway would head to the president of Basketball Operations, and Pritchard would then handle GM duties. 

It gives the Pacers a more forward-thinking element in the front office compared to Bird's very old school approach. And having someone who can handle the media without looking as if he wants to stab all of them can't hurt either.

In the past 30 days, the Pacers have hired the coach that helped get them to the playoffs and about as impressive a five-game series loss to the top overall seed as you can find, the former assistant coach under Phil Jackson in L.A. and Pritchard. The infrastructure is there. The talent core is there (even if a star is still missing).

Now they just need a season to test the new engine. 

 
 
 
 
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