When Kevin Pritchard took over the Pacers in April, little did he know that he would be completely revamping and overhauling a roster without Paul George. Fast forward a few months, and his restoration project is nearly complete, and the training camp roster is almost complete.
It seems like it has been an eternity since the news came across about Paul George, and it has been a whirlwind around the Pacers headquarters since then with the new Pacers president executing several trades, a rookie draft, as well as signing a few pieces via free agency, and finally the dust is beginning to settle. In case you have been living under a rock we will give a rundown as to what exactly took place this summer for the Indiana Pacers, and give a grade to the outcomes and how we see them fitting.
The Paul George Situation A-
There was little Kevin Pritchard could do when Paul said he wanted out, essentially diminishing all the value the player had to teams inquiring about a trade. Kevin was in a lose -lose situation, and somehow he turned it into 2 young, promising players that the fans can rally behind. From all reports (other than from Danny Ainge), the Celtics deals of 1st round picks were never on the table. The Lakers were not moving any of their young pieces, and nobody else was showing the Pacers that they were going to give up anything of value, until the Thunder called. Being able to swipe the former Hoosier, Victor Oladipo, as well as Damontis Sabonis (a lottery pick the year prior), for a player who has all but said he’s signing with L.A. and won’t stick around anywhere else is a steal. No it wasn’t equal value, but that never was going to happen. Oladipo and Sabonis are two young players that haven’t hit their prime yet, but both show promise. Oladipo is a versatile guard, and Sabonis is a young big man that started nearly every game last season for playoff team, he just needs to get a lot stronger. Pritchard did the best he could here.
NBA Draft B+
Picking 18th in the NBA draft is never sexy. However the Pacers turned it into perhaps one of the most intriguing picks in the draft by selecting versatile big T.J. Leaf. Leaf played 1 season at UCLA, showing ability to knock down the 3 as well as attack the rim. He’s a willing rebounder and passer, and overall a fantastic athletic prospect that has people excited about the future of the front court when paired with Myles Turner. Leaf obviously needs to get stronger (like most young big men in the NBA), but he showed why everyone is so excited about him in his short summer league stint.
Trading for the rights of Edmund Sumner was the next move made by the Pacers in the draft. Sumner, a guard from Xavier, was considered a first round pick by many until he had a knee injury last season. We won’t see much of Sumner, but if he recovers fully, he can be a future guard and potentially a starter for the Pacers in the near future (He is that talented).
2nd round selection Ike Anigbogu is another 1 and done, and a teammate of T.J. Leaf in college. Anibogu also has knee issues which is exactly why he fell into the 2nd round of the draft. Anibogu can bring a physical prescence to the front court for the Pacers, which is something they have been lacking for the last few seasons. He is an intriguing mix of athleticism and bulldog, and hopefully some of the attitude will rub off to Myles Turner. He could have role as early as this season off the bench spelling Turner.
Sign and Trade C.J. Miles for Cory Joseph A
C.J. Miles was on his way out of town by opting out of his contract at the end of the season, and Kevin Pritchard turned him into Cory Joseph, considered by many the best backup guard in the NBA. I’m not sure exactly how all that happened, but thank you C.J., thank you Toronto, and thank you Kevin Pritchard. Cory Joseph is a fantastic piece to have on the bench, and he has proven to be able to fill in with injuries, as well as lead a bench both offensively and especially on the defensive end. He reminds me of George Hill on defense, lanky, has a knack for finding the ball, and can shut down a point guard. Excellent move here by Pritchard.
Signing Bojan Bogdanovic B
Bojan is a very good shooter, and spent last season spreading the floor for the Washington Wizards. It is a very good fit, and a very Pacers friendly contract. The Pacers also needed wing players to go with GRIII, and Nate McMillan has already stated the Bogdanovic will go into camp as the starting SF. Where Bogdanovic struggles though is defending other wing players, which is troublesome because that is where the best players in the league reside. I feel GRIII is the better option here because of this defense, but Bogdanovic will be a great piece to add to the roster.
Waiving Players: Ellis, Allen, Christmas C
The reason I’m giving Pritchard a C for this is because of the inability to get rid of Monte Ellis without having to pay the man for the next 5 seasons. It’s tough, and NBA contracts are guaranteed so his hands were tied. Yet there had to be a way to trade him for cash, a bag of basketballs, a new orange Gatorade cooler, the cups for the cooler? Something? Either way they are stuck with his contract on the books for a while. Speaking of being stuck, they are also still stuck with Al Jefferson and his contract. Jefferson couldn’t even find the game after having tooth surgery, and not being in shape. How is an NBA player not in shape? Again, not all on Pritchard, but get rid of the guy if he can’t help you win now or in the future.
Hiring Chad Buchanan C+
Buchanan is known as a fantastic scout and as a player development guy, yet he’s never been a gm. Buchanan and Pritchard also worked together in Portland. For some reason, the Indiana Pacers are turning into the Portland Trailblazers midwest (I can’t be the only one thinking this), with Nate McMillan, Pritchard, and now Buchanan. Anyway, it remains to be seen how Buchanan works out here, so he gets a C+ from me.
Signing PG Darren Collison C-
Darren Collison makes a reunion tour with the Indiana Pacers just a few years removed from being drafted by the team. I find this move puzzling for a few different reasons. 1) He’s been here, wasn’t very good, hasn’t been overwhelmingly impressive since he left, and left on rough terms. 2) I’m selfish and want to see Lance start at point guard. 3) You traded for Cory Joseph. 4) You still have Joe Young
Regardless of what I think, the Pacers did sign Collison, to a Pacers friendly contract. They will be able to move on from him easily if it doesn’t work out well, and he is simply more of a stop gap to get you to your next point guard of the future, whether that player is on the roster or not.
For the tough situation Kevin Pritchard inherited, Kevin Prtichard did as well as could be expected, and overall I’m very impressed so far with what he did. I do not think this Pacers team is a dumpster fire, and I actually would look for them to compete for a playoff spot, something I did not see coming. I also think this team will be one that the city can rally behind (something that has been lacking the last couple seasons). The future is here for Pacers fans, Oladipo, Turner, Sabonis, and Lance are the leaders of this team, and Kevin Pritchard is already leading the way.
For this offseason, Kevin Pritchard gets a B+