Indiana Pacers

Paul George’s goal is to be MVP next season

9 Comments

Paul George’s career was on a skyrocket trajectory until just about one year ago. It was there, in an exhibition game for Team USA he tried a chase down block, landed at the base of the basket stanchion and his leg snapped in as gruesome an injury as you are ever going to see on a basketball court.

George will be back and fully healthy next season — and he wants to continue that trajectory just where it left off

George is in China selling the Nike brand and meeting with the many Pacers fans in that country — yes, Pacers China is a thing — and he told those fans that his plans for his career arc have not changed due to his injury. They are just delayed (hat tip to the IndyStar).

“After being draft into the NBA, I was playing from the bench and then tried to be a starter, then an All-Star. My goal now is set to be MVP. This year, that hasn’t changed,” George told fans at a Beijing Nike store.

What did you expect him to say? He’s a competitor; he’s not going to say anything less.

For the good of the NBA, I hope George has a bounce-back season. I hope we see a guy that hasn’t lost a step.

But the MVP award traditionally goes to the best player on a 50+ win team that is a contender, and the Pacers are not that. As well as George may play, this team is transitioning from big, lumbering and defensive to smaller and offensive-minded. Monta Ellis and George will be entertaining to watch together, but they are not lifting this team up to the NBA’s elite. Making the playoffs in the East seems a more reasonable goal, and one they may not fulfill.

 

Paul George says his goal for this season is to win MVP

8 Comments

One of the most intriguing storylines this coming season will be Paul George’s attempt to return to All-NBA levels. Last summer, he suffered a gruesome leg injury at a Team USA scrimmage in Las Vegas that forced him to miss most of the 2014-15 season, in which he played in just six games for the Pacers, who missed the playoffs in his absence. He’s set to be completely ready to resume at normal levels at training camp, and he has lofty goals for himself in his comeback season. He recently told fans in China that he wants to win MVP.

From Matthew Glenesk of the Indianapolis Star:

“After being drafted into the NBA, I was playing from the bench and then tried to be a starter, then an All-Star. My goal now is set to be MVP. This year, that hasn’t changed,” George told fans at a Beijing Nike store.

The Pacers team that George returns to will look vastly different from the last time he was fully healthy. Lance Stephenson is long gone, David West left for San Antonio and Roy Hibbert was traded to the Lakers earlier in July. George and point guard George Hill are the only starters left from the group that made the Eastern Conference Finals two years in a row in 2013 and 2014. They’ve made some solid moves this summer, drafting Myles Turner to replace Hibbert and signing Monta Ellis to help George with the scoring load. But without knowing what George will look like after missing essentially a whole season, it’s hard to project them as a contender, and the MVP typically comes from one of the top teams in the conference.

Regardless of George’s chances of winning the actual award next spring, though, it would be a fantastic story if he was able to get himself back into that conversation as one of the top five or 10 players in the league after the injury he dealt with this year.

Report: David West’s deal with San Antonio includes a player option for 2016-17

11 Comments

The biggest surprise of the offseason so far has been David West opting out of $12.6 million with the Pacers for next season to take a veteran’s minimum deal with the Spurs. His biggest reason for opting out was wanting to play for a contender, and the Spurs certainly are that, but it’s still a ton of money to leave on the table. However, he’ll have an opportunity to make some of that back up on the back end, with RealGM’s Shams Charania reporting that the second year of his two-year deal is a player option:

Next summer, the salary cap will jump by upwards of $20 million. If West is productive in San Antonio, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be, there will be plenty of money for him to make next summer, whether it’s in San Antonio or someone else. If the Spurs win the title this year, he could decide to take the biggest deal next summer to recoup the money he gave up this year. San Antonio will have an opportunity to give him a nice raise too, if he wants to stay.

Report: Pacers run out of cap room for Monta Ellis (but will sign him, anyway)

4 Comments

The Pacers agreed to sign Monta Ellis to a four-year, $44 million contract.

They also traded Roy Hibbert to the Lakers and agreed to sign Lavoy Allen, Rodney Stuckey and Jordan Hill.

Somewhere along the way, they made a mistake.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

Former Nets general manager Bobby Marks:

It’s not clear where the Pacers messed up.

They signed second-round pick Joseph Young to a contract starting at $1,007,026, according to Basketball Insiders. Had they waited, they could have used the room exception and had Young count $0 against the cap in the meantime. (Update: As Nate Duncan helpfully pointed out, the room exception can be for just two years. So, the Pacers needed cap space to give Young this deal.)

It’s unknown how Allen’s three-year, $12 million contract is structured, but his lowest possible starting salary is $3,720,930. Until signed, his cap hold is/was $947,276.

It’s also unclear how the Pacers fix this issue – whether the NBA just lets them undo completed deals and the re-execute them in the proper order or whether they’ll have to change someone else’s deal. Ellis won’t be the casualty, but that doesn’t mean Indiana won’t pay some price for its error. (Or it might not. I’m unsure how forgiving the NBA is.)

This is different than the Kenneth Faried contract extension Lowe mentioned, because that was just plain illegal. There was no alternative order of events that would made that legal.

The Pacers’ problem is more of a bookkeeping issue, one that wouldn’t have affected anyone’s end result. I guess we’ll learn how seriously the NBA takes this.

Jordan Hill on playing with Lakers: “All you hear is Kobe’s mouth”

50 Comments

Jordan Hill spent the last three seasons with the Lakers, but now has signed with the Indiana Pacers (while Pacers center Roy Hibbert went to the Lakers). At his introductory press conference, Hill was asked about playing with Kobe Bryant in LA and this was part of his response:

“When he’s on the floor it’s like (exhales), all you hear is Kobe’s mouth. He’s on the floor all you hear is Kobe’s mouth, like during practice and games, it get loud. It get loud. A lot of people can’t handle that I guess.”

Hill didn’t sound like he meant this as an insult, so much as a commentary on the reality of being on the court for the Lakers. It didn’t seem to bother him.

Kobe is Kobe and he’s not changing. It’s worked for him to the tune of five rings, but it’s also not the only way to motivate and push teammates (see: Duncan, Tim). Not everybody wants to play with Kobe. The young Lakers looking to be the future of the team are going to have to deal with it, no matter what they think. Kobe is now their reality. And certainly there is a lot that can be learned from Kobe, both on the court and in terms of commitment and work ethic.

The Lakers are fully committed to the Kobe brand (it’s made them a lot of money over the years, plus helped them win banners) and this next season is likely going to be a celebration of all things Kobe in Los Angeles.