Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks

Pacers coach Jim O’Brien fired


UPDATE 1:22 p.m. EST: The Indianapolis Star reports that assistant coach Frank Vogel will be named interim coach.

Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star as well as Yahoo! Sports are reporting that Pacers coach Jim O’Brien has been fired. The report comes just days after his job was said to be safe for the remainder of the season as the team evaluated both he and GM David Morway and Larry Bird finished out what may have been his last season as head of basketball operations with his contract expiring.

O’Brien was 121-169 in four seasons with the Pacers. The team never really showed much movement towards progress, even with standout Danny Granger and a hot start to this season.  Roy Hibbert has regressed, the point guard play continues to be muddled among their three quality players at the position, and their team defense has lapped significantly. Rumors first surfaced that O’Brien may be on his way out in Indiana as ownership was reportedly more and more concerned with the direction of the team. We’ll keep you updated on who is tapped to replace O’Brien as interim coach and what this means for the organization as the day progresses.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.