Indiana Pacers

Central Notes: Rondo, Hoiberg, George, Bucks

Rajon Rondo faces an uncertain future with the Bulls, but he got an endorsement from coach Fred Hoiberg after tonight’s season-ending loss, tweets Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago. “I love Rondo,” Hoiberg told reporters. “I love the kid. I Iove coaching him.” Rondo is set to make $13.397MM next season, but only $3MM of that is guaranteed through June 30th. The 31-year-old point guard had a rocky regular season, but was instrumental in the eighth-seeded Bulls taking a 2-0 lead over the Celtics before he got hurt and missed the final four games of the series.

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • There were loud chants of “Fire Hoiberg” toward the end of tonight’s 22-point loss, but the second-year coach said he sympathizes with fans who are upset (Twitter link). “I understand the frustration,” Hoiberg said. “We got off to a 2-0 lead but couldn’t finish it off. I do understand.” He has three seasons left on the five-year, $25MM contract the Bulls gave him in 2015.
  • The results of next month’s draft lottery could impact a potential Paul George trade, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The Celtics, who enter the lottery with the best odds, and the Lakers, who are third, are the two teams most often mentioned as trading partners for George. Either could improve their bargaining positions by landing a top-two pick and giving the Pacers a shot at Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball. With Jeff Teague entering free agency, Indiana might be tempted to unload George in exchange for its point guard of the future. Pincus notes that the Celtics could trade for George and still be able to make a max offer in free agency (Twitter link).
  • The Bucks need another star but may not have the resources to add one, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Milwaukee will be over the cap if it re-signs Greg Monroe or Tony Snell, and would have less than $20MM to offer if both players leave, not enough to attract a max-level free agent. O’Connor believes keeping Snell should be a priority. In the draft, the Bucks have all their future first-rounders, but will pick 17th this year and won’t move any higher as long as they keep making the playoffs.

Reactions to Larry Bird’s Resignation

Larry Bird’s surprise announcement that he is resigning as president of the Pacers has raised a lot of questions about the future for both him and the organization. Here is a sampling of the reaction from NBA columnists:

  • The move feels like a surrender, assesses Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star, who adds that someone else will be left to work out the complicated situation with Paul George. Bird has been trying to rebuild the Pacers into a serious contender in the East since 2014 and has a non-playoff season and two first-round ousters to show for it. According to Doyel, Bird has been convinced for more than a year that George will opt out after next season and leave in free agency. The Pacers listened to offers for George before this year’s deadline, and the pressure to deal him will increase next season before he leaves with no return.
  • Bird’s decision is the first in a “seismic” offseason for the team, writes Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star. Bird won’t address the situation with reporters until Monday, but the move has already been made, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Taking over as president will be Kevin Pritchard, whom Bird recommended to owner Herb Simon. The organization’s main priority this offseason will be deciding how badly it wants to keep George. If he is voted to an All-NBA team, the Pacers can offer him an extra year and $75MM more than anyone else in free agency. But Taylor states that some people in the organization don’t believe George is worth that much.
  • The move wasn’t health related, Taylor notes (Twitter link). He adds that players weren’t warned about Bird’s possible departure in their exit interviews (Twitter link).
  • Bird’s exit signals the start of the rebuilding process, claims Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. That process starts with the return for George, and Ding says the Lakers and Celtics should both get their bids ready. The Pacers also must decide what to do about free agent point guard Jeff Teague, who would limit Indiana’s other options if he is re-signed with a hefty raise.

Larry Bird Stepping Down As Pacers President

Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird is stepping down from his current role with the team, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Indiana general manager Kevin Pritchard will assume control of the basketball operations department.Larry Bird vertical

While Bird will no longer be the Pacers’ president, he’s expected to continue to work with Pritchard and the front office as a consultant to the franchise, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

[RELATED: 2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Indiana Pacers]

The news comes as a bit of a surprise, as there had been little indication that Bird was considering leaving the Pacers. However, on the heels of a disappointing 2016/17 campaign and a quick playoff exit, changes of some sort were expected in Indiana. The front office shakeup could significantly change the outlook for the Pacers going forward as the team begins a crucial offseason.

For one, Pritchard was believed to be drawing some interest from the Magic as a potential replacement in Orlando’s front office for Rob Hennigan. Given his increasing role in Indiana, Pritchard now appears unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. As for Bird, Wojnarowski tweets that the Magic’s search firm has been asking around about him as a possible candidate for team president, but the Hall-of-Famer plans to stick to consulting for the time being.

Bird’s departure may also have an impact on Paul George‘s future in Indiana. Reports around the trade deadline – and before that – suggested that the team president was strongly in favor of retaining George and doing everything he could to lock up the star forward to a long-term deal with the Pacers. It’s not yet clear if Bird’s resignation makes an offseason trade of George more likely, but that will be a very interesting situation to monitor moving forward.

Bird had been the Pacers’ president of basketball operations since 2003, with the exception of the 2012/13 season, which he took off for health-related reasons. The team made it to the postseason nine times during that stretch, including three Eastern Conference Finals appearances. Bird also won the NBA’s Executive of the Year award in 2012.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacers Notes: Teague, Bird, George

Coach Nate McMillan said Jeff Teague, who will be a free agent this offseason, wants to be back with the Pacers next season, as the team’s Twitter feed relays. The coach added that he believes he can get the best out of the point guard. “He needs to be better. I think I can make him better,” McMillan said.

Teague previously said he loves playing for the team. The point guard made $8.8MM last season in the final year of his contract. Teague will likely see a raise on that figure and the Pacers will have upwards of $32MM in cap space, as our Offseason Salary Cap Digest indicates:

  • Larry Bird has an incredible pulse on Pacers and that gives him the ability to make the best moves for the team, as Indiana’s Twitter feed passes along. “Larry [Bird] is at every practice, every game… He knows what this team needs. That was the reason he went out and got Lance [Stephenson],” McMillan said.
  • The Pacers cannot afford to add long-term money in free agency if they feel Paul George will leave next summer, Bobby Marks of The Vertical opines (video link). Indiana doesn’t currently have many long-term commitments and if George leaves, the team can build around Myles Turner and its cap space. However, if the organization makes a few bad signings, the eventual rebuild becomes more difficult.
  • McMillan expects George to return to Indiana next season, as the Indianapolis Star relays (video link). The coach added that he and George both want the same thing and that’s to win.

2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Indiana Pacers

The Pacers made some big splashes on the trade market and in free agency a year ago, but the new-look roster didn’t take the step forward the team was hoping for. Heading into the 2017 offseason, Indiana finds itself in a tough spot, with the future of star forward Paul George – who has just one guaranteed year left on his contract – up in the air.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Pacers financially, as we kick off our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2017:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • Kevin Seraphin ($1,974,159)3
  • Glenn Robinson III ($1,471,382)4
  • Joe Young ($1,471,382)5
  • Rakeem Christmas ($1,421,382) — Partial guarantee. Guaranteed portion noted above.2
  • Georges Niang ($1,212,611) — Partial guarantee. Guaranteed portion noted above.1
  • Total: $7,550,916

Restricted Free Agents

  • None

Cap Holds

  • Jeff Teague ($13,200,000) — UFA
  • C.J. Miles ($8,708,555) — If player option is declined
  • Lavoy Allen ($7,600,000) — If team option is declined
  • Aaron Brooks ($3,240,000) — UFA
  • No. 18 overall pick ($2,028,360)
  • Total: $34,776,915

Projected Salary Cap: $101,000,000

Maximum Cap Room: $32,491,518

  • If the Pacers were to waive all their players on non-guaranteed salaries, decline their team option on Allen, have Miles turn down his player option, and renounce their UFAs, they would have $64,430,407 on their cap for seven roster spots (six guaranteed salaries and a first-round pick). The team would also have to account for five minimum-salary roster charges for empty roster spots. The total on their books in that scenario would be $68,508,482.

Footnotes:

  1. Niang’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after either July 1 or July 15 (conflicting information available).
  2. Christmas’ salary becomes fully guaranteed after either July 1 or August 1 (conflicting information available).
  3. Seraphin’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after August 1.
  4. Robinson’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 1.
  5. Young’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 1.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and The Vertical was used in the creation of this post.

Jeff Teague To Command At Least $15-17MM Annually?

  • Within a piece examining the Pacers‘ upcoming offseason decisions, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders cites league sources who believe that free-agent-to-be Jeff Teague could be in line for a contract worth $15-17MM annually, or even more than that if other top point guards quickly re-sign with their own teams.
  • With the Pacers facing an uncertain future, Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star argues that team president Larry Bird deserves some criticism for a handful of questionable decisions and roster moves.

And-Ones: All-NBA Teams, Hayward, Kobe

The All-NBA teams were scheduled to be announced during the league’s inaugural award show on June 26th. However, because the selections may impact teams’ offseason plans, the league will unveil the winners in the weeks leading up to the draft, as Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post writes.

The newly created Designated Player Exception drove the change. Being selected on an All-NBA is a criterion for the massive extension and players such as Paul George and Gordon Hayward will be eligible for as much as $70MM more in an extension should they make one of the three teams.

The early unveiling arguably helps the Pacers the most. If PG13 lands on one of the teams, Indiana will have the inside track to signing him long-term as soon as this summer. If he doesn’t earn one of the spots, the organization can begin to seriously consider whether or not it should deal the small forward. George has long been linked to the Lakers and the Pacers may look to deal him rather than see him leave for L.A. without receiving any compensation in return.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Several NBA executives told Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News that they would choose Hayward over George if both were available to sign with their team. None of the executives said Hayward was the superior player based on talent alone, though they chose the Jazz star because he doesn’t come with the baggage that George comes with.
  • Kobe Bryant doesn’t miss playing the game of basketball, as he discussed on recent episode of Good Morning America (h/t James Dator of SB Nation). “No, I don’t,” Bryant said about missing the sport. “No, it’s crazy but I started playing when I was 2, and so after playing for 20 years in the league — what I have now is, everything I’ve learned from the game I carry with me to this day. So, the game’s never truly left me.”
  • Team USA announced who will be on the committees for the country’s men’s and women’s teams. Jerry Colangelo will continue to be the managing director of the Men’s National Team, while director Carol Callan will head the Woman’s National Team. Each committee will have an athlete representative. Shane Battier will serve as the men’s representative and Katie Smith will be the woman’s representative.

Latest On Paul George And The Lakers

Paul George has been talking about playing for the Lakers for years, an anonymous former teammate tells Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News. The small forward never made his desire to play for Los Angeles a secret within the team’s locker room, according to George’s former Pacers teammate.

Lakers team president Magic Johnson will likely pursue George and look to build a title contender around him, sources tell Lawrence. Johnson alluded to such plans during a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Lawrence acknowledges that George is a tremendous talent but hears that his leadership ability is being questioned around the league. Rival teams noticed how George handled himself in the media following the team’s Game 1 loss where C.J. Miles took the last shot instead of passing it to George. “C.J. took it upon himself,” George said following the game. “I’m confident in all my guys taking shots, that’s not the issue. But in that situation like that, I’ve gotta get that.”

A star should want the ball at the end of the game, but taking issue with teammates through the media is not the way top players should lead. “He’s not a winner by saying that [stuff] in public,” one GM told Lawrence. “That’s no way to support a teammate, but that’s how Paul rolls.”

Those comments after Game 1, along with George’s statements about Lance Stephenson‘s body language, have irritated members of the Pacers organization, particularly coach Nate McMillan and team president Larry Bird.

Several NBA executives are under the belief that George’s unhappiness and public blaming of teammates is a result of the Pacers not surrounding him with the right pieces.  Lawrence believes the Lakers need to surround George with “strong-willed” veterans should they trade for him this year or sign him next summer. One GM told Lawrence that the Celtics would be a much better fit than the Lakers because of Boston’s personnel.

Lawrence speculates that the team could part with D’Angelo Russell and/or Julius Randle in a hypothetical trade for George. The scribe adds that Brandon Ingram may not be on the table due to his high ceiling.

George said publicly that he hasn’t yet made a decision on his future with Indiana. “I ain’t even at that point, yet,” George said. He can become a free agent next summer by turning down a player option, which is worth approximately $20.7MM.

Pacers Notes: George, Teague, Miles

Paul George can become a free agent next season and he hasn’t yet committed to staying in Indiana long-term, as Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports writes. “I ain’t even at that point, yet,” George said.

The small forward took responsibility for the Pacers‘ short playoff run, though he admitted to being frustrated by losing to the same foe over and over again.

“It’s real frustrating to continue losing to the same team, or the same person. It’s what I work hard for in the summer, to try to help lead a team of my own and it’s ultimately who I’m always going to see and face. But again, came up short. Didn’t do enough,” George said. “If we want to win, that’s the team that we have to work towards stacking up against. If we want to be serious, that’s the team we’ve got to look at and figure out how can we match up against them.”

LeBron James-led teams have sent George home in the playoffs on four separate occasions. Here’s more on George and his Pacers teammates:

  • If George is going to leave the Pacers to join the Lakers, he may have to settle for mediocrity during his prime, Lee argues in the same piece. The scribe cites the past situations of Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and Deron Williams. All were stars who forced their way to other teams mid-prime and each player found himself playing for a team that wasn’t a serious championship contender.
  • Jeff Teague, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer for the first time in his career, is a native of Indiana and loves playing for the team. However, he admits that free agency comes with uncertainty, Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star relays. “ I love it here, but you never know, how they feel about me or whatever,” Teague said.
  • C.J. Miles could also hit the open market if he opts to turn down his player option, though he hasn’t yet decided what he’s going to do, Brown adds in the same piece. “I’ll sit down with my agent in the next couple of days,” Miles said in the locker room. “If [I opt out], it’s not solely because I’m trying to get out of here. It’s a business decision. The market, salary cap, everything is going up. It’s not like I’m 22. I’m nowhere near done, but you don’t want to waste anything.”
  • Miles added that he feels the Pacers could have a busy offseason, as Brown passes along in the same piece. “I think it could be,” Miles said. “I can’t speak for what they plan on doing, but you look at all the stuff, the rumors that happened throughout the season. We’ll see.”

Teague's Future Uncertain; Pacers Could Be Closer To Losing George

  • Indiana native Jeff Teague‘s future with the Pacers is uncertain, Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star writes. The point guard will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after a disappointing 2016/17 campaign. “I have no clue, I’ve never been a free agent, I don’t know how it goes. I love it here, but you never know, how they feel about me or whatever. I love being in Indiana, it’s great, got a home here. But you never know.
  • The Pacers are no closer to a title than they were a year ago, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star writes. Now, after a four-game sweep at the hands of the Cavs, they could be one year closer to losing Paul George.
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