Ryan Palencer – WYRZ
With the removal of Nate McMillan as head coach and the transition to Nate Bjorkgren in the front seat, there was a vibe that changes might be on the way.
Additionally, two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo dropped some crumbs that he might be interested in moving on. There has been consistent chatter about Myles Turner potentially being on the move.
Even with all of this buzz, the Indiana Pacers are planning to run it back with basically the same unit as last season. The team re-signed Justin Holiday and JaKarr Sampson. The squad decided to retain T.J. McConnell despite an affordable opt out.
J. Michael from the Indianapolis Star reported that the Pacers offered Turner, a first-round pick, and a rotation player in exchange for a sign-and-trade rights of Gordon Hayward. There were also reports that Hayward wanted to return to the Hoosier state, but the asking price was much too high.
Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard shared that they were looking for a splash with only a star-level player that fit the direction. Otherwise, consistently was valued for the group.
“When you look at teams that have gone deep into the playoffs, either they’ve made a huge move or they’ve had some serious continuity,” Pritchard said to the media during a Wednesday Zoom session. “So one of the things we decided, it was either going to be a big move or we were going to value continuity.”
There are two ways to look at this, as most things. There is a positive and a negative way that this could play out.
First, we look at the optimistic outlook. It’s pretty easy to say that two teams that finished ahead of Indiana took a slight step back with the players they lost — Boston and Toronto. While, it may not be a drastic decline, it still opens a window. The Bucks made some roster moves, but do not appear drastically better.
Additionally, the Pacers team that got swept by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat was not at full strength. The squad was missing All-Star Domantas Sabonis, leaving a huge void. During the press session, Prichard stated that he got feedback from Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon, and T.J. Warren that the team needs to show what they can do when healthy and in a different system.
With this in mind, the Pacers have shown this roster is a good team. The move to Bjorkgren was made with the postseason adjustments and preparation in mind. This team, as constructed, has proven to be a playoff team. Letting this run its course and see if the move pays off isn’t a terrible plan.
However, there is a possibility that it could all backfire. Turner knows that the team dangled him to acquire others. Oladipo says that he is committed, but has shown otherwise between reports and non-committal vibes. The Pacers front office has prided itself on being transparent on the business side of the game, as Pritchard pointed out as well. However, hurt feelings could impact team chemistry and the locker room situation could get ugly with a first-year head coach trying to earn his squad’s trust.
Indiana has made the decision to not over-commit to going in a different direction, but only time will tell if running it back with this squad will work out. Regardless, winning always cures all, and is a necessity for the blue and gold early on during this upcoming campaign.