Doug McDermott

Pacers Notes: Depth, Social Media, McDermott, McConnell

As the Pacers‘ All-NBA guard Victor Oladipo continues to recover from his ruptured quad tendon, coach Nate McMillan has had to turn to his team’s depth to win. And win they have, in resounding fashion: the Pacers are currently 14-8 in the East (and will be playing the Knicks tonight, so… we can go ahead and call it 15-8).

Summer addition Malcolm Brogdon and incumbent big man Domantas Sabonis have been the team’s standout players this season, but they’re not doing it alone.

Swingman Jeremy Lamb, another new summer signing, lauded the Pacers’ unselfish, equal-opportunity play as the reason behind their current resilience. Lamb, T.J. Warren, and Aaron Holiday have all made significant contributions as the Pacers have weathered injuries to Oladipo and Myles Turner (though Turner is healthy now). Their balanced scoring has the Pacers firmly entrenched in the East’s playoff hunt.

“It doesn’t always require a guy having a big night,” Lamb told Nathan Brown of the Indianapolis Star. “I looked up toward the end tonight and saw everyone on the floor had, like, 15 points. When you’ve got a really deep team, going through an 82-game season can be very taxing on your body, and the more able bodies you have is good.”

There’s more out of Indianapolis:

  • Mark Montieth of Pacers.com breaks down the long road to the NBA for Pacers backup point guard T.J. McConnell, who signed a two-year, $7MM deal this past summer. The Pittsburgh native rose from 5’8″ embattled coach’s son his freshman year in Bridgeville (he was once grounded for excess showmanship to his father/head coach Tim), averaging just 10 points for Pennsylvania’s Chartiers Valley High School, to a slash line of 34.2 PPG/8.2 RPG/9.1 APG, first-team all-state honors and being voted the Associated Press’ 3A Player of the Year, all while securing a 29-2 record plus a conference championship in his senior year. For more on McConnell’s path to the league, check out Montieth’s full story.
  • Following a choppy first season in Indiana, Pacers forward Doug McDermott has been settling in much better in year two, according to The Athletic’s Scott AgnessMcDermott, who signed a three-year, $22MM contract with Indiana in 2018, is taking 1.9 more field goals per game than last season, 1.0 more triples a game (and converting at a healthy 43.9%), and staying on the floor for three more minutes a night (20.4 minutes instead of 17.4). McDermott has enjoyed being used more as an offensive weapon for longer stretches this season. “Nate rides the hot hand a little now this year and it’s good to have the trust from him to be able to stay out that long,” McDermott added. “To help change the momentum of the game is something I take a lot of pride in.”
  • Another positive change in the injury-depleted Pacers’ locker room appears to have come about via some addition by subtraction. Scott Agness of The Athletic, in a separate piece, details why two of the three T.J.’s in the Pacers locker room (T.J. Leaf and McConnell) have recently gone relatively dark on social media. Myles Turner recently deactivated his Twitter account and deleted all his photos off his Instagram. Malcolm Brogdon recently deleted his Twitter account and primarily uses his Instagram account for branding, not for personal posts.

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. “

Central Rumors: Griffin, McDermott, Markkanen, Oladipo

When Blake Griffin was traded by the Clippers to the Pistons in late January, many people wondered how motivated and happy he would be leaving sunny L.A. for chilly Detroit. In fact, Griffin is glad he was dealt just months after signing a long-term max contract, as Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times details. Griffin is averaging 24.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG and 5.1 APG for the Pistons this season and has endeared himself to his teammates and people around the organization, Woike adds. “Yeah, I’m glad it happened,” Griffin told Woike. “I’m not saying I don’t miss certain people. There were some awesome fans that I got to know and I felt like I was very close with them. And there are some people you miss over there, but it was just time for a fresh start.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pacers coach Nate McMillan vows to make better use of sharpshooter Doug McDermott, Mark Monteith of the team’s website reports. McDermott was signed to a three-year, $22MM contract as a stretch four over the summer. He is in the rotation but has averaged just 4.6 PPG this month while making 32.1% of his long-range attempts. He’s scored six points or less 13 times this season. “In the flow of the game you have to know who (the shooters) are,” McMillan said. “It’s like playing with a Reggie Miller. The bigs should look to get him open, it doesn’t have to be a set play. … Doug’s going to be OK. We’re going to get him better opportunities.”
  • Lauri Markkanen is close to returning from the right elbow injury that has sidelined him all season, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune and other media members. Markkanen has been medically cleared and will go through a full practice on Tuesday after participating in Monday’s non-contact morning shootaround. If he doesn’t have any setbacks, the second-year power forward will most likely return on December 4th.
  • The Pacers feel they are better equipped to handle situations when star Victor Oladipo can’t play, according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star. The team went winless in seven games without him last season. Oladipo missed his fourth consecutive game on Monday due to a right knee injury. He suffered the injury in the opening minutes against Atlanta on November 17th and the Pacers managed to win that game. They were 1-2 without him last week. “For us, it really doesn’t make a difference who’s out on the floor. We want to play the game the same way,” McMillan said. “Play the game with a lot of energy. Play the game together. We want that ball movement regardless of who is in the lineup.”

Central Notes: Forman, Ellenson, Evans, Kanter

Bulls GM Gar Forman has done a good job of acquiring young talent but the hard part is yet to come, as Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times explains. Chicago will need to use its cap room and land at least one star player to become a major threat in the Eastern Conference, Cowley continues. Forman’s reputation around the league is shaky and he’s never been able to land such a player in his current position. That could eventually wreck this rebuilding project, Cowley concludes.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pistons power forward Henry Ellenson is entering a pivotal year in his career, Ansar Khan of MLive.com notes. Ellenson is expected to his minutes increase under new coach Dwane Casey and Ellenson has been working diligently to become a stronger defender and improve his ball-handling. However, the third-year big man out of Marquette struggled with his new shooting motion during summer league games, particularly from long range, and that’s disconcerting, Khan adds.
  • Free agent additions Doug McDermott and Tyreke Evans, along with first-round pick Aaron Holiday, should facilitate the Pacers’ desire to increase their 3-point production, according to Greg Rappaport of Pacers.com. McDermott closed out last season in Dallas by making nearly 50% of his long-range attempts in the final 24 games, while Holiday posted solid 3-point percentages during his college career, Rappaport continues. Evans has improved his long-range shooting over the last three seasons and will be an upgrade over Lance Stephenson, Rappaport adds.
  • Knicks center Enes Kanter took a shot at the Bucks franchise and said he never considered joining them this summer, Royce Young of ESPN reports. Kanter posted a deer emoji on his Twitter account, then deleted it minutes later, the night before he decided to opt in and stay in New York. But Milwaukee was never on his radar. “I know I was not going to go to the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s the Milwaukee Bucks,” he told Young. “Unless they give you good, good money, then go, but you don’t leave New York for Milwaukee.”

Central Notes: LaVine, Pacers, Cavaliers, Calderon

Fresh off the Bulls officially matching the Kings’ fully guaranteed, four-year $78MM offer sheet to Zach LaVine, the 23-year-old combo guard says he is ready to prove all of the doubters wrong who wonder whether he is worth the nearly $80MM in guaranteed money that he will earn from the Bulls, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“I’m my hardest critic,” LaVine said Sunday during the Bulls’ summer league game against the Lakers in Las Vegas. “There’s nothing that any of you guys can say to me that I [don’t] take harder upon myself. I go back and critique my game every year. I’m used to people sleeping on me, and I’m also used to waking them up as well. I’m happy that I have this contract, and I’m happy that I have a little extra motivation to go out there and prove it to some people that don’t believe in me.”

“At the end of the day, I believe in myself, I believe in my work, and I’m going to show the city of Chicago it’s a good choice and I’m here to stay. I’m going to be their guy, and I’m ready to do whatever to help this team get back to that spot.”

And despite saying publicly that he was disappointed the Bulls hadn’t done more to lock him in as a restricted free agent when the free-agency period opened, LaVine backtracked from those comments after the deal with the Bulls became official, saying that he simply meant he never wanted to sign an offer sheet because he wanted to stay in Chicago so badly.

“I think a lot of that got taken out of context,” LaVine said. “The main thing that I wanted to get my point across was I wanted to just deal with Chicago. I never wanted to get [to] a point of [having to sign] an offer sheet. Regardless of whatever happened, I’m going to put that behind us. I’m happy as hell that I’m going to be able to play for the team that I want to play for.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers found unexpected success this past season and the front office deserves credit for avoiding complacency, Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com opines. Indiana brought in Kyle O’Quinn, Tyreke Evans, and Doug McDermott on mid-sized deals, all moves designed to help them compete in a now-weakened Eastern Conference.
  • The Cavaliers, who are still searching for another assistant coach on head coach Tyronn Lue‘s bench, interviewed Warriors assistant coach Willie Green and Sixers assistant coach John Bryant recently, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Green has since re-upped with Golden State.
  • Because he signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, Jose Calderon likely could have chosen to play wherever he wanted to this upcoming season, opines Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. But he ended up picking the Pistons simply because he believes they can be a good team. And although he’ll likely slot in behind Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith on the depth chart, it’s possible new coach Dwane Casey could play two point guards at the same time, thereby opening up playing time for Calderon.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Pacers Sign Doug McDermott To Three-Year Deal

JULY 6: McDermott’s contract is now official, according to a press release from the Pacers. “In Doug’s case, we were looking for elite shooting, but we were also impressed with how he moves without the ball and his spot-up shooting,” said president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard.

JUNE 30: The Pacers have agreed to a three-year, $22MM deal with Doug McDermott, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The small forward comes off of a year split between the Knicks and the Mavs.

In McDermott, the Pacers will add a solid perimeter threat with size. The 6’8″ forward is a career .403 three-point shooter and posted a .494 average in 26 games with Dallas.

Despite his solid stint with the Mavericks, McDermott was not made a restricted free agent this summer. Dallas initially tendered a qualifying offer to the veteran sharpshooter, but withdrew it shortly thereafter, ensuring that McDermott would be unrestricted. The Mavs intended to use a significant chunk of cap room on DeAndre Jordan, and didn’t want to carry McDermott’s $10MM cap hold on their books.

McDermott will add valuable depth to Indiana’s rotation, slotting in behind starting three Bojan Bogdanovic. Meanwhile, the Pacers should still have cap room available to add another player or two.

Pacers May Pursue Doug McDermott, Joe Harris

With Will Barton expected to re-sign in Denver, the Pacers will turn their attention to Doug McDermott and Joe Harris, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

McDermott, 26, became a free agent on Wednesday when the Mavericks withdrew their qualifying offer. He split this season between New York and Dallas, playing 26 games for the Mavs after a February trade and averaging 9.0 points per night while shooting 49% from 3-point range.

Harris, also 26, is coming off his best NBA season. He averaged 10.8 points and shot 42% on 3-pointers in 78 games for the Nets.

Mavericks Withdraw QO For Doug McDermott

Doug McDermott won’t become a restricted free agent on Sunday after all, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that the Mavericks have withdrawn their qualifying offer to the four-year veteran.

It’s a quick turnaround for the Mavs, after we heard on Tuesday that the team had extended a qualifying offer to McDermott. According to Lowe, Dallas still has interest in retaining McDermott, but this decision will make the sharpshooter an unrestricted free agent. It will also clear extra cap room for the Mavs, since McDermott’s cap hold as a restricted free agent would have been worth nearly $9.9MM.

McDermott, 26, recorded 9.0 PPG on .478/.494/.857 shooting in 26 games with the Mavericks last season after coming over from New York in a deadline deal. While the former 11th overall pick has never averaged double-digit points in a season, he has been a reliable three-point threat since entering the league, making 40.3% of his outside attempts.

The Mavericks, who added Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson in last week’s draft, have been linked to a number of big men in free agency, including DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, Julius Randle, and Clint Capela. If they decline Dirk Nowitzki‘s $5MM team option, as suggested by Tim MacMahon and Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link), the Mavs could get up to approximately $26MM in cap space, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marks (Twitter link).

If Dallas requires all its available cap room to make a play for one of those bigs, it could offer the $4.4MM room exception to Nowitzki or McDermott. However, since the Mavs will no longer have the right of first refusal, the team won’t be able to stop McDermott from signing outright with another suitor.

Mavericks Extend Qualifying Offers To McDermott, Mejri

The Mavericks have extended qualifying offers to Doug McDermott and Salah Mejri, Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW tweets. Both players will become restricted free agents.

McDermott’s qualifying is worth approximately $4.3MM. It would have been slightly over $4.5MM had he met the “starter criteria,” but since he did not, he’ll settle for the lower figure.

A player meets the criteria if he plays 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency. A player can also reach this distinction by averaging either of those marks in over the two seasons prior to hitting free agency.

McDermott only started 13 games in his entire career and he came up 232 minutes short of the 2,000 mark during the 2017/18 campaign. Teammate Yogi Ferrell, who also received a qualifying offer from the Mavs, met the starter criteria.

Mejri, whose offer is worth slightly over $1.8MM, did not meet the criteria after playing just 729 minutes this past season.

Mavs Notes: Nowitzki, Smith, McDermott, Rebuilding

Dirk Nowitzki confirmed he will return to the Mavericks for his 21st season in 2018/19, while Dennis Smith Jr. will enter next season as an NBA sophomore. Despite being in different stages of their careers, Nowitzki and Smith both want to see the Mavericks return to relevance, per the Associated Press.

“I’ve been in a couple of arenas that are playoff teams, and I just witnessed the atmosphere,” Smith said. “I can only imagine how it is playoff time.”

Nowitzki has been part of numerous playoff teams in Dallas and helped lead the franchise to an NBA championship in 2011. In recent seasons, he has accepted that the Mavericks are in a rebuilding stage and contributed in any way possible. Still, he – along with the front office – wants to compete as soon as possible.

“We’re certainly hoping that we’re not in the early stages of a rebuild,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “We want to get through this as expeditiously as possible. But there’s no way you can skip steps.”

Check out more Mavericks notes below:
  • Doug McDermott joined the Mavericks in early February and played well, fulfilling the role of effective three-point shooter, as he has throughout his career. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes that McDermott, who could hit restricted free agency, would like to return and the feeling is mutual. “I hope so,” McDermott said of returning. “I loved my time here. I feel like I fit in right from the first game, and it just allowed me to be myself out there.
  • The Dallas Morning News looks at all of the Mavericks’ decisions heading into both restricted and unrestricted free agency, including what the future may hold for McDermott, Seth Curry, and Nerlens Noel.
  • The Mavericks are clearly still in the rebuilding phase and the fan base should get used to the team not being competitive, Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News writes. Dallas will need a lot of work just get to the level of some of the Western Conference’s lower-seeded playoff teams, making a postseason run unlikely to happen anytime soon.