Pacers’ Herb Simon: “We Can Build On The Go”

Don’t count on the Pacers tanking anytime soon under owner Herb Simon, even if Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star believes they should strongly consider it.

Simon invited five local media members, including Doyel, to discuss the team and the recent report from The Athletic that the Pacers are open to a roster shakeup. The Athletic’s story characterized the Pacers and Simon as increasingly open to a rebuild, despite having resisted going that route in the past. But the 87-year-old pushed back against that notion, suggesting that he’s still opposed to the idea of a full-fledged rebuild and wants to remain competitive even if the club makes a few roster changes.

We want to be as far up in the draft as possible because we want to win as many games as possible,” Simon says. “I just don’t play the game that way (tanking). I don’t think about it. Maybe I should think about it, but I don’t.

I don’t want to see it,” he added. “And if I don’t want to see it, the fans don’t want to see it. Why would we want to go through a rebuild when we can build on the go? That’s the talent. Donnie (Walsh) did it all the time. Larry (Bird) did it. Kevin (Pritchard) will do it. We can do it.”

Simon told reporters, including Doyel, “I love our little team,” adding that he believes the Pacers have had some bad luck in close games and can turn things around without doing anything drastic. It remains to be seen whether he’ll adjust his stance by the trade deadline or whether Indiana will prove him right.

Here are a few more interesting quotes from Simon’s media session:

On the Pacers’ ability to acquire top free agents, which they’ve historically been unable to do:

I don’t believe in the premise (that top free agents won’t consider the Pacers). We’ve had people like David West who wanted to come here. We’ve had our share of good players. Maybe the top three or four players may not want to come here because they want to go to a better climate or pay less taxes or whatever reason. I don’t use that as an excuse.

“… I think it’s blown out of proportion. If it’s the right situation and we pay the right price, we can get most every player, I believe. I don’t see that … I’m not going to pull the small-market (self-pity) thing. I’m not concerned about it. We have a wonderful environment here for players. They treat them very well. They’re taken care of properly. And (players) love being here.”

On his willingness to spend, despite not paying the luxury tax in more than a decade:

I didn’t build a practice facility not to spend money. We didn’t rebuild this arena not to spend money. I had to put money in that. We’re building a beautiful plaza for the public. We try to be good citizens, and you’re just picking one point: ‘Why aren’t we paying (luxury) taxes?’ We’ll pay taxes when it’s the right time to pay taxes.”

On his desire to win a championship in Indiana:

I’m not crying poverty, ‘Woe is our small market.’ I’m proud of this market. This is a basketball market, and we’ve had tough times and we’ve had good times and we’re going to have good times again. If I can hang around long enough, maybe we’ll even win a championship.”

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

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