The Pacers have climbed to fifth place in the Eastern Conference and just how far they go this season rests heavily on how quickly and profoundly Myles Turner continues to develop, coach Frank Vogel told Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star. Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy, who took Stanley Johnson at No. 8, three spots before the Pacers drafted Turner, thinks Indiana’s rookie big man looks like a steal, Buckner notes.
“You would have to say fairly that he’s one of the most, if not the most, surprising players in the draft,” Van Gundy said. “I think everybody pretty much knew he was going to be a good player, but I think a lot of people thought it would take more time than this and he’s playing very well.”
Van Gundy had more to say about his own team, as we pass along amid news from the Central Division, where the Pistons aren’t the only ones liable to veto a trade:
- The Cavaliers are being more cautious than usual as they put Channing Frye through a medical evaluation, cognizant of the heart condition that knocked him out for all of the 2012/13 season, multiple sources told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, but the Cavs aren’t concerned, a source tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (ESPN Now link). Cleveland has until Tuesday to finish examining Frye before the trade with the Magic is ratified. The swap is separate from the one in which the Cavs dealt away Anderson Varejao.
- The Pistons aren’t a top free agency destination, and Van Gundy knows it, which is why he’s willing to pay a premium for talent via trade, as he told TNT’s David Aldridge for the NBA.com Morning Tip. “I think for us, quite honestly, you’ve got to know who you are and where you are,” Van Gundy said. “We knew when we came, or had a pretty good idea when we came, our chances were the draft, which you only get one or two a year, and trades were going to be better for us. Especially in a summer where basically everybody is going to have money. We’re not at the point yet — we haven’t won enough yet, established enough yet, quite honestly — where we’re going to be at the top of the [free agent] list. So we’re going to end up overpaying for lesser players, is where we thought we’d be. And we got a chance to get really good players in trades. It fit exactly what we thought was the best path for us and the best strategy for us.”
- Van Gundy deflected credit for the team’s trades to GM Jeff Bower and others in the Pistons front office, suggesting that he essentially just rubber-stamps the deals that Bower and company put together, as Aldridge and MLive’s Aaron McMann detail.