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

Leave a comment

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.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
Leave a comment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.