That warm feeling, Pacers staff, is underneath you

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This is a long story, let-me-sum-up kind of weekend. Get used to it.

The short version: ESPN reports that Pacers management is unhappy with both coach Jim O’Brien and GM David Morway (you thought Larry Bird was the GM, didn’t you? Meet more Pacers fans. They’re nice.). They’re so unhappy, should the team suffer another losing season, they could both be released. Any firing of O’Brien would wait till the end of the year, as his assistants are considered unfit to take the reins. Meanwhile Kevin Pritchard is being discussed as a possible GM solution, having traveled with Bird during the team’s road trips recently, which of course Bird dismisses as just something he does from time to time.

The long version: Things are not good in Indiana. The team has the talent to lock up the seventh seed, right now. They’re a long ways away from that four seed, but the seven is not only something they can reach for, it’s something they should already have secured. Their competition in the Eastern Conference is a “hanging on by the very threads of their blanky” Bobcats, a Bucks team that is in full-on meltdown, melt-out Skiles mode, and Philadelphia, which, well, it’s Philly. But they haven’t. And as a result, O’Brien is on the hot seat.

Well, that’s not all of it. His minutes have been irregular. The team has yet to find a consistent rotation. Broussard specifically mentions the Tyler Hansbrough-Paul George complication, but the point guard situation is just as perplexing. Yes, both T.J. Ford and Darren Collison are talented (and to a lesser extent A.J. Price). But at some point the point guard question should be settled and you should have your guy. Throw in the backwards step of Roy Hibbert after an All-Star start and you have serious problems. The Pacers flat-out should be better than they are. And at some point you stop pointing fingers at youth and start blaming age.

Pritchard’s an intriguing choice, but the move would also signal a move away from Larry Bird in control. There’s very little chance of Pritchard, notoriously as proud as he is brilliant, would want to sign on to be a figurehead. He’d want power. Which means Bird would have to take a backseat, something he’s not particularly drawn to. But with Bird also getting up there in age, it’s possible that he could be looking for a younger face to take over the franchise after he steps down at the end of this contract, should he elect to.

The Pacers are in a make-or-break year. They make the playoffs and finally say they’re building on something, or big changes are around the corner.

Are Bulls and Dwyane Wade moving toward a buyout?

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About a month ago, the Bulls said they hadn’t discussed a buyout with Dwyane Wade.

Have the two sides progressed since?

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

Dwyane Wade isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.

Expected by whom?

People with direct knowledge of momentum toward a buyout?

Or everyone who can see that a 35-year-old earning $23.8 million fits poorly on a rebuilding team?

For the Bulls to now drop their biggest name and a large expiring contract that could prove useful in trades should require Wade surrendering a large portion of his salary. He doesn’t sound like someone inclined to do that yet.

A few months is a long time. As long as Wade gets bought out by March 1, he could join another team’s playoff roster. It’d surprise nobody if he gets bought out after the February trade deadline, which we already knew. I don’t see strong indication of something more imminent.

LeBron James’ camp already shooting down leaving-Cavaliers rumor

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LeBron James has done a terrible job shooting down rumors about him leaving the Cavaliers

Except this one from Chris Sheridan, who cited a source saying LeBron would “100 percent” leave Cleveland next summer due to a rift with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Sheridan’s source saying LeBron is leaving doesn’t make that true. But other anonymous sources denying it doesn’t make the denials true, either.

New Orleans Saints fire Pelicans’ team physician

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The Pelicans have been crushed by injuries the last few years.

Why? That’s an incredibly complex question.

But the New Orleans Saints – who share an owner (Tom Benson), a front-office leader (Mickey Loomis) and other staff with the Pelicans – have found culprits for their own injury woes.

Mike Triplett of ESPN:

The Saints have fired team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, per source, after it was discovered that CB Delvin Breaux has a fractured fibula and will require surgery expected to sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. Breaux was originally diagnosed with a contusion

Suri is a Pelicans team physician.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Fairly or not, Suri – after the Saints deemed him unacceptable – will be in the crosshairs if he keeps his job with the the Pelicans and their injury woes continue.

Rumor: LeBron James ‘100 percent’ leaving Cavaliers next summer

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Chris Sheridan was ahead of the crowd in 2014, reporting LeBron James would likely leave the Heat for the Cavaliers – which obviously happened.

But Sheridan called it a “90 percent chance,” a small – but large enough – hedge. He also said LeBron would announce the decision on LeBron’s personal website. Of course, LeBron revealed his choice in a Sports Illustrated essay.

So, maybe Sheridan knows what he’s talking about. Maybe he doesn’t.

But the longtime NBA writer just fanned the flames of the already hot LeBron-leaving-Cleveland rumors.

Sheridan:

Of course, the denials came quickly.

There have already been plenty of warning signs about LeBron’s relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, which didn’t restart in a great place.

It’s entirely believable LeBron would leave Cleveland, in large part due to Gilbert.

But it’s also fun to speculate about that salacious storyline.

Maybe Sheridan or his source got carried away for that very reason. Or maybe they know something.

Neither possibility should be discounted.