Last season the Indiana Pacers were just above .500 at 42-40, but that was good enough to be the seven seed and get into the playoffs.
Then this summer the team traded Paul George. And lost Jeff Teague in free agency. And started a rebuilding process.
However, the guy at the heart of that rebuilding — big man Myles Turner — said on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Wednesday that the goal hasn’t changed, he expects the Pacers to be a playoff team out East. (Hat tip to the Indy Star.)
“I feel like we’re definitely going to be overlooked this year. A lot of people look at us as young team that’s going to rebuild, but we’re a young team that’s trying to compete. We’ve got a lot of guys who can come in and make an impact right away. I expect to make the playoffs this year.”
First, I want star players to say that. He can’t go into the season saying “we’re tanking.”
Also, Turner isn’t crazy.
I don’t have the Pacers in the postseason in the East, but it is possible they grab one of the final couple spots in a conference where a lot of teams are aiming more for Marvin Bagley and Michael Porter than the postseason. The Pacers have some solid veterans on the roster — Darren Collison, Thadeus Young, Cory Joseph, Lance Stephenson — and if they can get Turner to take another step forward, and if Victor Oladipo can find a groove, a seven or eight seed is not out of the question.
The Pacers may move those veterans in season if GM Kevin Pritchard can turn them into younger players more on the Turner/Oladipo timeline. Making the playoffs is not a priority for the front office, nor should it be. However, the idea of the Pacers making the postseason in the East isn’t crazy.
LeBron James has been up front about this before: He wants to play with his son LeBron Jr. for a couple of years in the NBA before retiring. That son, about to enter ninth grade, would graduate in 2022 — the year the NBA is expected to go back to allowing teams to draft players out of high school, and the year LeBron’s Laker contract ends.
(Does LeBron Jr. want this? Of course he’ll say publicly he does, but would you want your dad with you in the locker room and on the road with you when you’re an NBA rookie finally out of the house and able to explore life a little?)
Taking that to the next step, Twitter user @Shady00018 pieced together an NBA 2K mixtape of LeBron playing with his son. LeBron saw it and LOVED it.
We’re a long way from that, but you know LeBron wants it to happen.
Kawhi Leonard is a member of the Toronto Raptors now. There’s no way of getting around it. Even with rumors swirling about whether or not he will be happy in Canada, the truth is that we have already seen some embrace of Leonard in the six.
Likewise, DeMar DeRozan is a member of the San Antonio Spurs whether he likes it or not. Now, each have been seen for the first time in their new jerseys.
The only catch? It’s via a video game.
2K Games decided to tweet out new rendered images of both players in their respective jerseys. To be honest, I don’t think they look all that bad.
It’s going to feel a bit like a real life franchise mode of NBA 2K19 when we see these guys on the court in their new kits next season. But eventually we will get used to it, much in the way we will no doubt get used to LeBron James in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey or Tony Parker in a Charlotte Hornets jersey.
We’re going to have the matchup between the Raptors and the Spurs circled on our calendar next year. That is, if Leonard ends up playing in it. There still might be some doubts in that department.
Most of Los Angeles — and the vast majority of Lakers fans — are fired up that LeBron James is coming to Los Angeles. They see a return to glory for the franchise (well, once they get the rest of the roster right… sorry Lance Stephenson).
However, there is a segment — particularly the die-hard Kobe fans — who are having trouble assimilating to the new reality.
So when an artist did a LeBron James mural near Venice in Los Angeles recently — a really well-done tribute — it was quickly vandalized. Then eventually covered up.
This week another artist did another impressive LeBron/Lakers mural — this one with LeBron looking up at the Lakers’ legends — and once again, it was vandalized.
I’m not shocked by any of this, but it is depressing. If you’re vandalizing art, you are a cowardly buffoon.
There’s no way to really know the motivation behind the second attack, although the smart money is on it being the same as the first one — a few people think they are protecting the Lakers’ brand by not welcoming the best player on the planet to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years. It’s incredibly flawed logic, but frankly flawed logic has become trendy in recent years, it can get you elected to all kinds of offices.
Credit real Lakers fans who showed up to help fix this.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder are trading reserve center Dakari Johnson to the Orlando Magic.
A person with knowledge of the details confirmed the move to The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
Yahoo Sports, which first reported the deal, said Oklahoma City will get guard Rodney Purvis in the deal. Purvis averaged 6.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in 16 appearances for the Magic last season. The Orlando Sentinel said the Thunder also sent cash to the Magic.
Johnson played 31 games last season for the Thunder with six starts. He averaged 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. The 7-footer averaged 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 10 games for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, last season.