The Indiana Pacers are the best defensive team in the NBA right now. Hands down. Zach Lowe did a fantastic breakdown of what they are doing over at Grantland. The Pacers are long, everybody can defend, their guys move on a string — one moves then the next moves to cover — and it’s just good basketball. Not highlight-filled beautiful basketball, but winning basketball.
That defense execution extends to their reserves — with no starters on the floor the Pacers defense would still be middle of the pack in the NBA. No other NBA team can say that.
But Roy Hibbert wanted to make sure the bench guys were motivated Tuesday nigh so he offered a little incentive against the Bobcats, reports the Indy Star.
Keep the Bobcats in the 70s, Hibbert instructed the five reserve players checked in the game. It’s worth $100 per man.
“I’m a man of my word,” he assured them.
In a happy locker room following a 103-76 blowout, the highest-paid Pacer ($13.66 million this season) handed out large bills to three teammates, including one he couldn’t name, Dominic McGuire, who is playing on a 10-day contract. Jeff Pendergraph refused his reward. Ben Hansbrough must wait until Hibbert finds an ATM.
The Pacers are having fun and improving game to game. Paul George to me is an All-Star player who has stepped up with Danny Granger out. Then in a few weeks Granger will not be out anymore and the Pacers offense should improve while the defense remains the same (Granger is a good wing defender).
Hibbert continues to be in an offensive slump that he needs to shake, and there are other questions about the Pacers for the playoffs. But if you can defend you are in games and have a chance.
And if you can motivate the bench to defend, all the better. And Hibbert may have found a way.
Over the next week a lot of guys currently on NBA rosters are going to get waived.
Next Thursday is the deadline — if you have been on an NBA roster since training camp by next Tuesday your contract is guaranteed through the end of the season. Teams are going to start waiving guys who aren’t playing (and aren’t developing fast enough) to save a few dollars.
The New Orleans Hornets started that by setting Dominic McGuire free on Friday. Marc Stein of ESPN first reported that it was going to happen and now multiple sources confirm that the ax has dropped.
McGuire, a forward out of Fresno, has bounced around the NBA for five years and played just nine games for the Hornets this season. He started the season with the Raptors where he actually started nine games before they decided to let him go.
Look for a lot of guys to get waived (and a few of them to get picked back up) in the next six days.
The New Orleans Hornets, who want to add some depth at forward with Jason Smith out for a while, have found their man.
The Hornets have signed Dominic McGuire, reports the Times-Picayune.
McGuire has played five NBA seasons, bouncing between the Wizards, Kings, Bobcats, Warriors and most recently Raptors where he started nine games this season before being let go.
Last season he showed some promise as a solid defensive player off the bench in Golden State, playing a little more at the four spot with the Warriors going small (he’s really a three). In Toronto this year he was more of a three and he struggled defensively. We’re talking about what he brings on defense because he brings almost no offense to the table (he averaged 2.1 points per game in Toronto). But for the Hornets, a team without depth, maybe he can be a guy who can play solid minutes to fit in a shrinking rotation. Maybe Monty Williams can put him in spots to defend and have some success off the bench, but he’s not going to give the Hornets much else.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the situation in Toronto, where the Raptors are 3-13 on the season, definitely fits the description.
That might explain the team’s latest personnel move, which is the decision to bring in Mickael Pietrus to help turn things around.
Sam Amick of USA Today reports that the Raptors have agreed to sign Pietrus and plan on releasing Dominic McGuire once the deal is finalized.
Pietrus can occasionally put up numbers as an outside shooter, and is an above average perimeter defender. Last season in Boston he appeared in 42 games, and averaged 6.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in almost 22 minutes of action per contest.
As a role player in this league, Pietrus is somewhere firmly planted in the middle of the serviceable scale, and can be more productive on the court than many subs actively playing in the league that found themselves with guaranteed roster spots to start the season.
Personality issues are likely the reason it’s taken so long for Pietrus to find a home this season, as his goofball act tends to wear thin pretty quickly in a new locker room, and is no longer worth dealing with given his diminished levels of production.
We’ll see how it plays out in Toronto, where he’ll have plenty of opportunity to help a team that desperately needs it.
The Raptors are having some depth issues out on the perimeter. Actually, some is an understatement. More like buried under an avalanche.
First Kyle Lowry is out a couple weeks with a bone bruise in his foot.
Now we learn Wednesday was the day Landry Fields had elbow surgery and he is out indefinitely, as reported by Raptors play-by-play man Matt Devlin.
Fields started five games but had not been right, averaging just 2.4 points per game on 20.8 percent shooting. He will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks and a timetable for his return will be set then.
Usually a lot of his minutes would go to reserve swingman Alan Anderson — but he also is out for at least three weeks, Devlin tweets.
You’d xpect to see a lot more Linas Kleiza but he is out Thursday with a sore ankle. Next up is Dominic McGuire but he is out until Saturday due to a family issue.
Expect to see some Andrea Bargnani at the three. Maybe, finally, we will get to see some of rookie Terrence Ross because of this, too.