The Pacers have been riding a wave of overachievement in the first half led by 2018 All-Star Victor Oladipo. With the departure of Paul George — who was dealt for Oladipo — the Pacers entered the season without a franchise star and dimmed playoff hopes. Thus far, the team is in playoff position and Oladipo is happy to be the leader, ESPN’s Mike Wells writes.
Ownership’s faith in the current roster was best demonstrated when the Pacers stood pat at the deadline. No moves were made the roster was given a vote of confidence to continue its mission. And, on this mission, the leader is a player who has developed into a possible franchise mainstay.
“After what we went through with somebody who didn’t want to be here, to have someone who really wants to be here is so rewarding and refreshing,” owner Herb Simon said to ESPN. “His whole spirit brought life into the whole team and the whole organization. So we love that.”
Check out other Pacers notes below:
- General manager Kevin Pritchard was active on the phones during the deadline but a request from six Pacers players to not break up the roster swayed his opinion, NBA.com’s Mark Monteith writes. “Unless we knew we could really help the team I wanted to make sure there were no disruptions,” Pritchard said. “Our culture means everything.”
- Al Jefferson is no longer the starting center who averages a near double-double, but he has an invaluable presence as a veteran on a young, overachieving team, Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star writes. Cory Joseph vouched for Jefferson’s ability and revealed a nickname he came up with for the veteran when he was in Utah. “Instant Buckets,” Joseph said. “That pump fake? When I was in San Antonio, we played Utah in the playoffs. I’d always be on the bench like, ‘Don’t jump.'”
- In case you missed it yesterday, Hoops Rumors also caught up with Jefferson to discuss why he is happy to stay in Indiana and why the team “can do something special.”