Pacers Rumors

Pacers Notes: Turner, Collison, GRIII, McMillan

It has been a somewhat disappointing season for third-year center Myles Turner, who was viewed as a strong candidate to have a breakout year for the Pacers following Paul George‘s offseason departure. Instead, Turner has been slowed by health issues and has seen his numbers decline in several offensive categories this year.

Still, as Jim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star details, Turner has lost the support of “exactly zero” members of the Pacers’ organization, and remains an important building block for the club’s future. Turner will be extension-eligible for the first time during the offseason.

Here’s more on the Pacers, who currently hold the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference:

  • Mark Montieth of Pacers.com has an in-depth feature on Pacers point guard Darren Collison, who says he feels like he’s been underrated throughout his NBA career. Collison, who has played for five teams in nine NBA seasons, also said he’d like to stick in Indiana a while longer. “I love it here,” Collison said. “If you ask me, I would like to be here a long time. We all know how this business works. You do the best you can and hopefully this is the place. Hopefully I can help these young guys grow.”
  • Currently sidelined with a knee injury, Collison will remain out of action for at least another week, tweets Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. The Pacers will get one injured player back though, as Glenn Robinson III is ready to make his season debut after missing several months with an ankle injury. Monteith has the details at Pacers.com.
  • Clifton Brown of The Indianapolis Star lays out the case for why head coach Nate McMillan deserves his share of the credit for the Pacers’ surprising success this season. “Nate’s been brilliant. Our offensive and defensive strategies this year have been terrific,” said president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard. “Without Nate, we don’t have this. We’re not talking about this. He’s overachieved, and more importantly, he’s put our players in a position where every single night they can succeed.

Pacers Sign Trey McKinney-Jones To 10-Day Deal

FEBRUARY 21: The Pacers have officially signed McKinney-Jones, the team announced today in a press release.

FEBRUARY 20: The Pacers are set to sign G League guard Trey McKinney-Jones to a 10-day contract, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Indiana currently has an open spot on its 15-man roster, so no corresponding move will be required to make room for the team’s newest player.

McKinney-Jones, who went undrafted out of Miami in 2013, has bounced around since then, playing for professional teams in France, Israel, and Hungary. The 27-year-old has also had multiple G League stints, appearing in 137 total contests for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Indiana’s NBAGL affiliate.

After joining the Pacers for training camp this past fall, McKinney-Jones returned to the Mad Ants for the 2017/18 season. He’s averaging a career-low 26.8 MPG and 11.4 PPG in Fort Wayne this season, but has been a more efficient shooter than ever, with a .493 FG% and .380 3PT%.

Once McKinney-Jones’ 10-day contract with the Pacers expires, the team will have the option of signing him to a second 10-day deal. After that, Indiana would have to either let him go or sign him to a rest-of-season contract.

Oladipo Knew He Could Have Breakout Season

Victor Oladipo knew a breakout season was possible after speaking with Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard on the team’s private plane prior to his introductory press conference last summer, as Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated divulges in a feature story. Pritchard assured Oladipo that the club truly coveted his services, rather than just matching up salaries to facilitate the Paul George blockbuster with the Thunder. Indiana wanted to play faster this season. “This wasn’t a dump. We targeted you,” Pritchard told Oladipo, according to Jenkins. The All-Star shooting guard is averaging a career-high 24.4 PPG for the surprising Pacers.  “It was the first time in my career I felt like a team really believed in me,” Oladipo told Jenkins. “I was just thinking, Don’t mess this up.”

Pacers Notes: Oladipo, Culture, Jefferson

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.”

Al Jefferson: Pacers Can ‘Do Something Special’

Al Jefferson‘s second season with the Pacers reminds him of his first season with the now-defunct Bobcats four years ago. Neither team was expected to be in playoff contention, but 57 games into the 2017/18 campaign, the 32-25 Pacers – currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference — are on track for the postseason.Al Jefferson vertical

“Yeah man, it reminds me of my first year in Charlotte during the 2013/14 season,” Jefferson said to Hoops Rumors in an exclusive interview before Wednesday’s first-half finale against the Nets. “No one counted us, nobody thought we would be good, and nobody thought we would be a playoff team. We became a playoff team and did well.”

The Bobcats won just 28 total games in the two years before Jefferson signed a three-year, $40.5MM pact with Charlotte. Conversely, the Pacers began their post-Paul George era with reduced expectations and unanswered questions. Would Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis be a sufficient return for George? Can a team without an established star compete in the East? Could young players like Myles Turner take a step forward?

So far, the answer has been yes across the board.

Jefferson has 14 years in the NBA and five trips to the postseason to his credit. This season, the 33-year-old has accepted the role of reserve center and mentor. He has appeared in just 28 games, averaging 6.5 PPG and 3.8 RPG in 13.6 minutes per game – all career-lows.

The Pacers reportedly explored several trades at the deadline and Jefferson’s name was floated in discussions. Ultimately, the organization stood pat as the deadline passed. Jefferson and other Pacers players were happy that ownership allowed the current group to continue its playoff push.

“People counted us out from the beginning and nobody thought we would be where we are now,” Jefferson said. “We have a great group of guys that plays hard, that plays together, and wants to win, and nobody cares about anything else but winning.”

Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard shared the sentiment.

“They feel like they are overachieving and had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Pritchard told reporters, including The Indianapolis Star’s Jim Ayello on Sunday. “They wanted to have the opportunity to finish this out and try to get into the playoffs. That carried a lot of weight with me.”

At the All-Star Game this weekend, the Pacers will be represented by Oladipo, who is just the second Pacer not named Paul George to make the team since 2011. Indiana has also played well against the NBA’s upper echelon, with wins over the Celtics, Spurs, and Cavaliers to the club’s credit.

It will be a challenge to maintain their first-half level of play but Jefferson maintains the same confidence in the Pacers that Pritchard had when he decided to keep the band together.

“I think when you’ve got guys like that and a great coaching mindset like the coaching staff we’ve got, I think we could do something very special,” Jefferson said. “I’m a believer in taking it one game at a time and seeing how far you can go.”

Players' Input Led Pritchard To Stand Pat

  • Pacers players lobbied GM Kevin Pritchard to stand pat during the trade deadline, Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star relays. Pritchard was approached by six players, who told him they wanted to see what they could accomplish with the current mix. “They feel like they are overachieving and had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Pritchard said during a press conference. “They wanted to have the opportunity to finish this out and try to get into the playoffs. … That carried a lot of weight with me.”

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

Now that the dust has settled on last Thursday’s trade-deadline deals and the first round of veteran buyouts and cuts has been completed, it’s worth taking stock of which NBA teams have the flexibility to add a player or two without waivers anyone else.

With the help of our roster counts page, which we update all season, here are the NBA teams with open spots on their 15-man rosters. Open two-way contract slots aren’t included here, since teams are ineligible to sign new two-way contracts at this point in the season.

Teams with a player on a 10-day contract filling their open spot:

  • Phoenix Suns
  • Utah Jazz

Both the Suns and Jazz have 14 players on fully guaranteed NBA contracts, leaving one potential opening. For now, Josh Gray is filling that 15th spot in Phoenix and Naz Mitrou-Long is doing the same in Utah. However, they’re only on 10-day contracts, so both of these teams could soon create an open spot if necessary.

Teams with one open spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Toronto Raptors

The teams listed above represent a mix of playoff-bound squads and rebuilding non-contenders. Teams like the Bulls, Mavericks, and Knicks could use their open roster spots to take fliers on young players via 10-day contracts, while clubs like the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Raptors may be eyeing the buyout market for veterans who could fortify their respective benches.

Teams with two open spots:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Washington Wizards

NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads. However, clubs are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks. Roster moves made last week by the Hawks, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, and Wizards left them below the limit, so they’ll each have to add at least one player by the end of the All-Star break.

Note: Roster info current as of Tuesday, February 13 at 2:00pm CT.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/11/18

Here are Sunday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

10:04pm: 

  • The Warriors have assigned Patrick McCaw to their affiliate in Santa Cruz, the team announced (Twitter link).

2:52pm:

  • The Grizzlies have assigned forward Brice Johnson to their G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, the team announced in a press release. Johnson was acquired by the Grizzlies prior to the trade deadline on Thursday. In 24 G League games this season, Johnson has averaged 13.4 PPG and 9.5 RPG.
  • The Thunder have recalled guard Terrance Ferguson and center Dakari Johnson from their G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced in a press release. Ferguson has appeared in 41 games with the Thunder this season while Johnson has racked up 24 appearances.
  • The Pacers recalled center Ike Anigbogu from their G League affiliate in Fort Wayne, the team announced on its website. While the rookie has played sparingly with the big league club, he’s averaged 6.3 PPG, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 12 games with the Mad Ants this season.

Pacers Stand Pat At Deadline With Future In Mind

  • The Pacers stood pat at the deadline, with the team more focused on the future than short-term fixes, Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star writes. At 31-25, Indiana is currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and on track to make the playoffs. However, Brown notes that the Pacers do not feel like they were one trade away from being a championship contender and elected to not make a move.

Trade Deadline Rumors: Carroll, Kings, Lakers, C’s

The Nets and Pacers have considered a deal that would send DeMarre Carroll to Indiana in exchange for Al Jefferson, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. The deal would be a way for Brooklyn to clear money for next season, as Carroll is owed $15.4MM, while Jefferson has a $10MM salary that’s only partially guaranteed.

Carroll, who was traded to the Nets over the summer, is averaging career highs in scoring (13.2), rebounds (6.4) and assists (1.9). Jefferson has settled into a reserve role since coming to Indiana two years ago and is averaging 6.7 points and 3.9 assists in 26 games.

There’s more to report as the trade deadline draws closer:

  • The Kings are willing to move second-year center Georgios Papagiannis if they need to open a roster spot to complete a larger trade, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link). However, Sacramento has since agreed to trade Malachi Richardson in a deal that seems designed to open up a roster spot.
  • With Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis both battling injuries, the Suns may be interested in a minor deal for point guard help, tweets Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Josh Gray is the only healthy option currently on the roster.
  • The Lakers appear to be done with major deals after acquiring Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye from the Cavaliers, relays Bill Oram of the SoCalNewsGroup (Twitter link). Oram adds that a minor trade could still be in the works.
  • The Celtics remain engaged on several trade fronts, but continue to be reluctant to include a first-round pick in a deal, sources tell Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).
  • The Cavaliers weren’t able to gain any traction with the Hornets on a Kemba Walker trade before pulling the trigger on a series of separate deals, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Hornets Michael Jordan places a high value on Walker and won’t move him cheaply, Woj adds. Jordan said in a recent interview that he wouldn’t part with Walker “for anything but an All-Star player.”

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

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