The Pacers have gone through all kinds of turmoil following a strong start to the season that had them atop the Eastern Conference standings until just recently.
Paul George has struggled both on and off the court, Roy Hibbert has called out his teammates’ selfishness, and perhaps most importantly, the losses are piling up, with Indiana having won just seven times in its last 17 contests.
One might wonder if it can all be traced back to the deadline deal that saw the Pacers trade Danny Granger.
Chemistry is extremely fragile on any championship contender, and it goes beyond simple Xs and Os. Despite not really doing much since getting healthy, Granger was the team’s elder statesman, having been there for more than eight seasons and acting as a locker room leader for the team’s younger core players.
A Miami Heat official pointed to Indiana’s struggles as the reason they chose to keep their longest tenured player as the trade deadline passed.
From Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:
Heat players have referred to the risks you run when reshuffling a contender so late in the season.
As one Heat official recently put it, “Now you see why we didn’t trade U.D.” …
How would that have gone over?
“That’s a tough question,” Mario Chalmers said, measuring his words. “U.D., besides Dwyane and Bron and CB, he is the heart and soul of this team. He is one of the captains, one of the leaders on this team. He sets a good example for everybody else. I don’t know. It wouldn’t have been a good thing.”
Haslem has found himself in the starting lineup as of late, and has been positively affecting the team’s net rating far more than Shane Battier or Greg Oden had been able to in their opportunities there this season. He’s remained ready, and Miami has needed him on the court when it didn’t look like that would be the case when the season first began.
It’s easy to pile on the Pacers for what sure seems like a mistake now, when Haslem is contributing and Indiana has fallen off a cliff since dealing Granger. But chemistry is an undeniable component to winning a an NBA title, and unless the Pacers prove that they can regain it come playoff time, the consensus will be that their midseason trade was extremely short-sighted.