Pacers’ Pritchard Talks Matthews, Roster, More

While Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard makes the final call on the team’s personnel moves, a pair of Indiana’s former heads of basketball operations remain very much in the loop, Pritchard tells Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.

According to Pritchard, he works with advisors Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird on a “daily basis.” Calling both men “true mentors,” Pritchard notes that Walsh is on the office every day, while Bird gets “very involved” in the summer and fall.

Within his conversation with Aschburner, Pritchard touched on a number of other subjects, discussing the Pacers’ approach to free agency, the excellent job head coach Nate McMillan has done with the club, and Victor Oladipo‘s rehab, among other topics. For Pacers fans, the conversation is worth reading in full, but here are a few highlights from the team’s president of basketball operations:

On the sales pitch that allowed the Pacers to land Wesley Matthews last month:

“He saw opportunity, right? We needed a starting two. And there was continuity with just knowing Nate and how he coaches, his style [Matthews and McMillan were together in Portland for a season and a half]. And from what he’s told us, he saw us, he played against us and he liked the way we play. But it became a recruiting process, for sure. He had a lot of options.”

On what the Pacers have gotten out of 2018’s free agent signees (Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, and Kyle O’Quinn):

“They fit in nicely. They all made it clear that they wanted to come in, play a role and do it as well as they possibly could. Kyle is a great backup center, and we’ve asked him to be the third center. We’ve needed him, because Sabonis is going to be out for a little bit. McDermott, as he gets comfortable here and learns to seek out his offense, the better he’s going to be. And Tyreke, he’s had some ups and downs. But when he plays well, we’re a different team. We need that punch off the bench, and that’s something we focused on when he got him.”

On the impact of having so many free-agents-to-be on the roster:

“It’s good in that guys are pretty motivated. I’ve believed in this team. We’re going to be challenged in the playoffs and it will be fun watching them, but we’ve got to get there first. I don’t want to look too far in the future. We know we’re going to have some tough decisions this summer. But I believe 40% of the league will be free agents, so it’s not only our issue. It’s a league issue and an opportunity.”

On the Pacers’ long-standing aversion to tanking (Indiana hasn’t won fewer than 32 games in a season since 1988/89):

“You’ve got to give [team owner] Herb [Simon] a ton of credit. He’s not the kind of guy who says, ‘Let’s tank and look to the future in three years.’ We’re not about that. “

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10 thoughts on “Pacers’ Pritchard Talks Matthews, Roster, More

  1. I read the reason the Pacers don’t tank is when Reggie played the Pacers averaged 18,000 a game, now it’s 11,000. They can’t afford to tank. Pritchard said last summer he’d like to keep the starters intact, I expect him to do the same this summer. Bird talked about the reason his Celtics teams were so good was they kept them together. He said that’s what Red Auerbach taught him. I can see them keeping Oladipo, Turner, Bogdanovic, Collison, Matthews, Holiday, Leaf, Sabonis, Sumner, and O’Quinn, then trying to add to bench.

    • They’ll keep Young if the price is right. If they can find better than McDermott, they will. They only re sign Evans if they can’t re sign Matthews.

      • No way Evans is brought back. He’s been garbage this year, and I don’t think Nate likes him. Now he is missing time for “personal reasons”.

    • I don’t think Bird likes to look bad. He retired the first time because he didn’t want to be responsible for signing Roy Hibbert to a max contract, so he dumped it on Donnie Walsh. This time he didn’t want to be responsible for the Paul George trade, so he gave it to Pritchard. I knew Bird wouldn’t trade George to the Lakers. Bird and Magic hate each other. I do think Bird and Donnie will have an office in Bankers Life Arena until they die.

      • Dude Bird and Magic do not hate each other. Team loyalty and rivalry yes. But to hate the actual person is not true. They did a documentary already stating that. Team loyalty is different from hating a person.

          • The Bird-Magic rivalry goes back to Magic winning the NCAA tournament with Michigan State over Bird and Indiana State. Bird treated Magic just like Popovich and New Orleans owner Gayle Benson did.

            • Sports rivalry and hating the actual person are two different things. Magic and Bird do not hate each other. So youre just going to sidestep all the documentaries which state that they actual built a mutual respect and friendship over the years? Espn 30 for 30 special? What about the HBO special? They had a long lasting sports rivalry. Charles and Shaq had a sports rivalry but they are friends. Totally two different things. I’ve had my share of basketball rivalries and those were with some of my closest friends because we grew up and trained together but played for different schools in high school and college.

  2. D$!LLKU$H-og

    Bogey doing big things out there. He’s gonna rake in 10-15 Mil/yr for at least 2 maybe even 3 years. I’d guess Pacers keep him for 3/$42mm. Then I could see them bringing George Hill back for the Biannual Exception. Collison gonna get priced out.

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