There’s a chance, albeit a small one, that Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird takes over the coaching duties from Frank Vogel before the playoffs begin, as Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star tells Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe in a video interview. Kravitz pegs it as a 5% chance, and cautions that the notion doesn’t come from Bird himself.
Bird told Kravitz nearly a month ago that he thought Vogel wasn’t pushing his players hard enough, and the Pacers have continued their surprising downturn. Indiana was 42-10 before the All-Star break, but the team has gone just 13-13 since and fallen behind the Heat for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The decline has been mystifying, and Bird’s midseason acquisitions of Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum haven’t panned out.
Vogel has turned the Pacers around after taking over the team for the final 38 games of the 2010/11 season, guiding them to the playoffs that season and every year since. Indiana was a game short of the NBA Finals last season, when Bird took a one-year hiatus from his job in the front office. Bird also coached the franchise within a game of the Finals in 1998, the first of his three-year tenure on the bench. His final season as coach ended with a trip to the 2000 Finals, which Indiana lost to the Lakers.
It would be surprising if the Pacers were to bring Bird back to the sidelines for the postseason, as Kravitz suggests. Even if such a move doesn’t happen, it looks as though Vogel’s job security will be in doubt unless Indiana makes a deep run in the playoffs.
The Cavs went through their Wine & Gold scrimmage today and it appears No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett is struggling with his conditioning, reports the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd. He was winded after playing just four minutes in the scrimmage.
The scrimmage ended early after second-year center Tyler Zeller took a nasty fall and Anderson Varejao landed him on, adds Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Zeller suffered a strained left hip, which is not considered serious, but he was impressing coach Mike Brown before the scary fall.
Here's more on the Cavs and some notes on the Pacers' possible new sixth man while most fans are taking in all the early preseason action tonight…
- Kyrie Irving dominated the Wine & Gold game writes Boyer, with some flashy moves on his way to scoring a game-high 17 points during the intra-squad scrimmage.
- Bennett looks to be 10-15 pounds overweight writes the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto, echoing Lloyd's report from above. But Pluto also relays Brown's belief that Bennett has NBA 3-point range; although, he still needs to work on his defense.
- Pacers coach Frank Vogel alluded to James Harden and Manu Ginobili when talking about the possibility of Danny Granger coming off the bench, tweets the Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner. But she adds, via Twitter, that Granger would share starters' minutes with Lance Stephenson.
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel was a guest on ESPN Radio in Indianapolis today and Scott Agness of Pacers.com transcribed much of the interview for us. Vogel hits on a number of topics, but specifically discussed the offseason developments at the top of the Eastern Conference, including those within his own team. Here are a few key points from Vogel:
- Vogel mentioned the Bulls and Nets as the two teams that have taken big steps forward this offseason; Chicago with the return of Derrick Rose and Brooklyn with their bevy of additions. Vogel lauded the bench additions of Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko in Brooklyn, and said he expects good things from Jason Kidd as an NBA coach.
- The Pacers' addition of Luis Scola will really help the team's bench, Vogel said, adding that Scola is one of smartest and most creative players in the league. Vogel said that Solomon Hill, drafted 23rd by Indiana in June, is "ready to contribute right away" and also mentioned C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland as useful additions to his squad.
- Of course, the piece most likely to elevate the Pacers to the next level is the return of Danny Granger, who missed all but five games last season with knee issues. On Granger, Vogel said, "It’s really exciting. Danny is on schedule, looks really good, he’s making progress each week and we’re hoping that we're going to be having a full-strength Danny Granger this year to add to this team that made a lot of noise last year."
- Roy Hibbert has concentrated on bulking up this summer, according to Vogel. Hibbert, who established himself as an elite physical presence in last season's playoffs, is adding bulk mainly in hopes of improving on the offensive end, Vogel said.
It’s more than reasonable for the Celtics to consider cashing out on an aging Paul Pierce for young assets to be used towards rebuilding, opines Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld. In another season and a half, the veteran could retire or walk away from Boston with no compensation. His trade value may never be as high as it will be now through the 2013 draft, and this may be the time to act, according to Brigham. Here's more from around the Eastern Conference.
- Sixers GM Tony DiLeo told reporters, including Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com, that the team will try to stay in contention for a playoff spot until Andrew Bynum gets back, and may make short-term upgrades that don't cut into next summer's cap space.
- DiLeo also said the Sixers "are still looking at Andrew as a long-term solution," indicating they still plan on trying to re-sign him this summer.
- The extension Frank Vogel signed with the Pacers this week runs through 2014/15, and will pay the coach $2MM per season, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
- J.J. Redick doesn’t want to be traded away from the Magic, but after hearing from GM Rob Hennigan that several teams have expressed interest, he's girding himself for the possibility, writes John Denton of Magic.com.
- The Heat signed Josh Harrellson and Jarvis Varnado to ten-day contracts simply to stall for time until something better comes along, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. The Heat can get a better sense of what might be available to add at either the trading deadline or buyout deadline.
- Anderson Varejao's injury isn't devastating to his long-term trade value, as The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer examines.
Zach Links of Hoops Rumors also contributed to this post.
One day after the mutual decision to sever ties with the Bucks, Scott Skiles was quick to shoot down a rumor that he "hated his team." Charles F. Gardner of JS Online drew more comments from the former-Milwaukee coach, who also implied that his phone has been "blowing up" regarding opportunities but would like to enjoy some of the time off he has right now. Todd Rosiak (also of the Journal-Sentinel) explored Skiles' departure from his former players' perspective, namely Larry Sanders, Luc Mbah a Moute, rookie John Henson, and Brandon Jennings, who admitted he was a bit frustrated about how he found out about the news – from Skiles first and not the team. With that aside, here are more news and notes from the Central Division tonight:
- With four consecutive drafts in which the Pistons have taken five current rotation players, there is optimism that GM Joe Dumars and his scouts have the right mindset and wherewithal to continue building the team toward a return to prominence (Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports).
- Fresh off agreeing to what is most likely a multi-year contract extension yesterday, Frank Vogel expressed optimism and determination in the direction of the Pacers' franchise (ESPN report via the Associated Press).
- Mike Wells of IndyStar.com briefly explores Vogel's appreciation for the assistants on his coaching staff and mentioned Dominic McGuire's task of learning the team's offense as quickly as possible.
The Pacers have signed head coach Frank Vogel to a contract extension, the team announced today in a press release. Vogel had been in the final year of his contract, though the Pacers held a team option for 2013/14, so it's not clear whether the club simply picked up that option or further extended Vogel's contract.
Since taking over as Indiana's head coach during the 2010/11 season, Vogel has led the team to an 82-56 record and a pair of playoff berths. The Pacers are also off to a strong start (20-14) this season despite not having top scorer Danny Granger in the lineup.
"This is a good deal for Frank and the franchise," said Pacers president Donnie Walsh in a statement. "Frank has done a great job turning our team around since he became coach and deserves the chance to continue the work he and his staff have started."
We're about a quarter of the way through the NBA regular season, which is enough of a sample size that we can say certain teams have underperformed so far. Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today take a look at the coaching situations for a few of those teams in their latest piece, examining whether any head coaches are in danger of being let go. We touched on Dwane Casey's situation with the Raptors in a post this morning, but here are the rest of Amick's and Zillgitt's updates:
- After Suns owner Robert Sarver told ESPN.com's Chris Broussard yesterday that Alvin Gentry wasn't on the hot seat, Amick and Zillgitt spoke to Sarver as well. Sarver's vote of confidence in this case was even stronger, as he told USA Today that Gentry's job is safe for the rest of the season.
- Like the Raptors, the Suns may explore an on-court change rather than a coaching move, with Michael Beasley a candidate to be involved — according to USA Today, there's some disagreement between the team and player about what his role should be. However, Sarver still hopes Beasley will work things out in Phoenix: "We're working with him. He's working hard, and we still expect to be able to (salvage the situation)."
- The Wizards are still paying their last head coach, Flip Saunders, so they're unlikely to replace Randy Wittman this year, since it would mean paying three different coaches.
- Pistons owner Tom Gores has high expectations for his club, and wants to see some progress toward the playoffs this year in Detroit, making it a potential make-or-break season for Lawrence Frank.
- Keith Smart's job with the Kings appears safe, though team president Geoff Petrie's future isn't quite so clear.
- The Nets still have faith in Avery Johnson and expect some peaks and valleys with the team's overhauled roster. However, there's an expectation that the team will not only qualify for the postseason but be in position to "make an impact once they get there."
- Despite a slow start for the Pacers, there's still hope in Indiana that Frank Vogel is around to coach the team for years to come.
Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal debunks the misconception that the Cavaliers will be forced to spend big in free agency this summer as a result of the NBA's minimum team salary floor requirement. Next season, teams will be required to spend at least 90 percent of the league's salary cap number next year. Although Cleveland's total amount of committed salaries could fall short of that number, Lloyd points out that the Cavs will be allowed to make up for the difference by dispersing the remaining required amount to its players. Here's more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
- After initial struggles, Jeff Green appears to be looking more like the player the Celtics envisioned when they inked him to a 4-year, $36MM deal this summer, says A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com
- Brook Lopez's recovery from a sprained right foot hasn't progressed as quickly as the Nets have hoped, writes Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York.
- Count George Karl among those who thinks that Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is primed to eventually win an NBA title (Matt Ehalt of ESPN New York reports).
- Pacers head coach Frank Vogel is considering more playing time for guard Ben Hansbrough and forward Jeff Pendergraph at the expense of those who have been struggling in Indiana's current second unit lately.
- Several of HoopsWorld's analysts weighed in on who they feel are the most surprising teams in the NBA thus far. Out of the Eastern conference, they referenced the Knicks' dominance, the Bobcats' improvement compared to last season, and the Raptors' difficulty in living up to expectations.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times says that the ticket to Bulls forward Jimmy Butler earning playing time has been his defensive versatility.
- John Denton of NBA.com examines the niche that Moe Harkless has found with coach Jacque Vaughn, who likes the progression his rookie has made in the starting rotation. Denton also provides a minor update the current statuses of Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington, saying that while Turkoglu still appears to be out indefinitely, Harrington could return in the next two weeks.
- Raptors guard Alan Anderson went through his workout today without any pain and believes that he is one practice away from returning (Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun reports).
The start of the regular season means the return of Marc Stein's Weekend Dime feature on ESPN.com, and as usual, there are a few notable tidbits within the piece. Stein praises Lakers coach Mike Brown for his refusal to run from "ridiculously early" questions about his job security despite the specter of available names like Phil Jackson and Mike D'Antoni. In response to the notion of D'Antoni taking over the team, HoopsWorld's Steve Kyler calls it overreaction (Twitter link), which would seem to carry over to Jackson as well, especially considering the doubts about his desire to coach again. Here's more of what Stein had to say.
- Josh Smith is in the final season of his deal, worth $13.2MM this year, and he could represent an attractive trade chip. Stein nonetheless hears the Hawks will most likely hang on to Smith this year while retaining cap flexibility for what could be an active summer of 2013.
- One of the reasons why the Thunder traded James Harden is because the team is projected to pay, instead of receive, under the league's revenue-sharing model, despite playing in a small market.
- Seven coaches are in the final year of their contracts, including Larry Drew of the Hawks, Avery Johnson of the Nets, Vinny Del Negro of the Clippers, Lionel Hollins of the Grizzlies, Scott Skiles of the Bucks and Alvin Gentry of the Suns. Frank Vogel is the other member of that group, though the Pacers hold a team option on his deal for 2013/14.