With an eye to 2011 free agency, the Pacers are looking point guard

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Barring a massive and lopsided trade, the 2010-2011 Pacers are going to be pretty bad. Paul George has serious NBA potential, but he’s not exactly ready to be a franchise-changing player in his rookie season. Other than that, Indy is set to let go of a few low-profile players (Earl Watson, Luther Head) while working the trading block and doing what they can with the mid-level exception. Woe is the existence of a middling team too good to win the lottery but too inept to make the playoffs.

What’s worse, the Pacers don’t have any cap space whatsoever to play with this summer. However, looking forward to next year, the Pacers are set to have all kinds of salary flexibility. If Larry Bird and David Morway elect to let their expiring contracts actually expire, the Pacers will have just over $25 million in committed salary in 2011 (not including the salary for their draft picks next season) with which to assemble their new team.

Alternatively, Bird could attempt to flip those expiring contracts during the 2010-2011 season to get a jump-start on a true rebuild. That process actually starts right now, as Indiana will look to assemble a few relatively low-cost assets with the exceptions they have.

If the draft day rumors linking the Pacers to the Nets’ Devin Harris didn’t tip you off, they’re clearly looking to begin their reboot at point guard. According to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star, the Pacers will pursue unrestricted Laker free agent Jordan Farmar and restricted Rocket free agent Kyle Lowry to fill the void (yes, that’s what I call a position manned by T.J. Ford) at the 1. Both are sound candidates, though whether or not they’re viable starting PGs has yet to be determined.

Farmar could really thrive in an offensive system like Indiana’s, as his talent has been stifled somewhat by the triangle offense. His shooting and passing would really be better served in a more flexible, fast-paced offense. Lowry has often seemed better served to be a back-up PG, but he’s also never been given full freedom to run an offense of his own. If Lowry does end up signing with the Pacers, he’d have to compete with T.J. Ford for the immediate reins of the offense, but in the long-term? He could be unleashed as the bull of a point guard to run Indy into the future.

PBT Extra: How did Thunder, Pacers move up in PBT Power Rankings?

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As they do every Monday during the season, the PBT Power Rankings came out and while the top three remained the same there were some climbers.

Specifically, the Thunder at No. 4 and the Pacers at No. 5.

Why they are there is the latest PBT Extra topic with Jenna Corrado. The simple answer is they are both excellent teams. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Paul George are all playing like Top 10 players.

PBT Podcast: We’re back talking Kobe, 76ers, Warriors, Pistons, more

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The ProBasketballTalk NBA podcast is back.

Sure we’re a month into the season, but we’re going to get this podcast rolling again and you can expect us on each Monday and Thursday, with a variety of guests talking everything around the NBA.

Today NBC’s own Dan Feldman joins Kurt Helin to talk Kobe Bryant‘s retirement announcement, and what that means both for the Lakers going forward this season and beyond, but also what that could mean for Byron Scott’s future as the Lakers’ coach.

We also delve into the “showdown” between the Lakers and Sixers on Thursday, talk about the job Brett Brown is doing there as coach (a good one), we talk some Warriors, some Draymond Green, Pistons, Spurs and Pacers to round it all out.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.


Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins probable to play against Dallas Monday

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It’s this simple: The Sacramento Kings are 5-5 when DeMarcus Cousins plays this season, 1-7 when he sits. (And that win number is a big misleading, they looked like they would have beaten Charlotte with him, but when he left with back pain they lost, they could easily be 6-4 with him.)

So it’s good news that Cousins is expected to return to the Sacramento lineup Monday night. Well not good for Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks, but good for the Kings, as reported by James Ham at CSNBayArea,com.

This season Cousins is averaging 27.9 points and 11.2 rebounds a game, he has a true shooting percentage above the league average (56.3 percent for Cousins) and he has a PER of 27.1 which is sixth best in the league.

Combine him with the numbers Rajon Rondo has put up lately the Kings become much more dangerous. They’d be even scarier if everyone stayed healthy and George Karl would settle on a lineup.

PBT Extra: Kobe Bryant understands now is time to walk away

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It was expected Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of this season.

It was not expected Kobe would make that official on Nov. 29 — it’s caught the media at Staples Center Sunday (of which I was one) and the fans by surprise.

In this PBT Extra, I talk with Jenna Corrado about the mood inside Staples Center Sunday.

More importantly, I discuss the sense I got that Kobe understands it’s time to walk away, and he is at peace with that.