Myles Turner

Pacers Rumors: Turner, Budenholzer, Shaw, Bjorkgren, More

Prior to the 2021 trade deadline, J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star reported that the Hornets, Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, and Pelicans were among the teams to express interest in Pacers big man Myles Turner. With Turner possibly available again this summer in trade talks, many of those teams could renew their interest in the NBA’s shot-blocking leader.

Exploring that possibility, Michael tweets that the Hornets and Timberwolves are the teams that seem to “really” want Turner. Michael speculates (via Twitter) that Charlotte would be the team most likely to make an aggressive trade offer for the 25-year-old if the Pacers are willing to move him.

Here’s more out of Indiana:

  • If the Bucks decide to move on from Mike Budenholzer after their season ends, he’d move to the top of the Pacers’ list of potential head coaching candidates, league sources tell J. Michael. Michael adds that G League Ignite coach Brian Shaw, formerly a Pacers assistant, is also expected to be a serious candidate for the job.
  • In a subscriber-only piece for The Indianapolis Star, Michael takes a look at the factors that led to Nate Bjorkgren‘s ouster after just one season. One league executive described Bjorkgren’s coaching style as “fake positivity,” according to Michael, who also provides details on Bjorkgren’s tendency to micro-manage and his failure to hold players accountable. Michael adds that the first-year coach “made sure those beneath him knew their place,” which lines up with a May report that stated Bjorkgren didn’t treat his assistants particularly well.
  • Although the Pacers haven’t ruled out blowing up their roster, team owner Herb Simon may be averse to that idea, according to Michael, who suggests the club seems likely to bring back Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon, and T.J. Warren.

Central Notes: Lopez, Plumlee, Bjorkgren, Sabonis, Turner

Bucks center Brook Lopez will be facing his former team in the conference semifinals and Nets coach Steve Nash believes he could be a key player in the series, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “He could be one of the wild cards,” Nash said. Lopez, who is signed through the 2022/23 season, averaged 15.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 1.3 BPG during the first-round sweep of the Heat.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons raised a lot of eyebrows when they signed Nuggets reserve center Mason Plumlee to a three-year, $24MM+ contract last fall but Plumlee justified it with a productive season, Keith Langlois of writes. Plumlee averaged 10.4 PPG, a career-high 9.3 RPG and 3.6 APG while serving as a post facilitator and setting solid screens. He’ll remain a rotation fixture in his second season with the franchise, Langlois adds.
  • The Pacers’ offseason appears to be on hold until the front office decides what to do with head coach Nate Bjorkgren, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files writes. It’s the biggest decision that team president Kevin Pritchard will make to date and he’s pondering all his options.
  • If the Pacers decide to break up their frontcourt duo of All-Star Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, it’s generally assumed the front office will move Turner. Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel (subscription required) explores a variety of metrics and concludes that it’s not a clear-cut decision.

Central Notes: Turner, Markkanen, Hayes, Pistons

Myles Turner heard his name pop up in trade rumors last offseason, specifically regarding the Celtics, and there’s a good chance the Pacers will see what they could get for Turner in talks this summer. Turner says his preference would be to stay put, as he told’s Sean Deveney.

“I love Indianapolis and there’s no place I’d rather be than here – it’s my second home and the fans are the best the NBA has to offer. In terms of any trade rumors, I’m really just trying to stick to basketball,” Turner said. “I’m laser-focused on being the best I can be on the court, supporting my teammates and trying not to get wrapped up in rumors.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Mavericks and Knicks are two potential landing spots for Bulls free agent Lauri Markkanen, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times speculates. According to Cowley, Markkanen would prefer to join forces with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but Markkanen and Porzingis possess similar skill sets, so that might not be a fit for the Mavericks. However, the Knicks will have the most cap room this offseason and could use more shooting, Cowley adds. Chicago will have to extend a $9MM offer to make Markkanen a restricted free agent.
  • Killian Hayes needs more time to develop before anyone can determine whether he’s a long-term fit with the Pistons, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes. The abbreviated preseason put all rookies behind the proverbial eight-ball and Hayes missed a significant chunk of time with a hip injury. The summer will be crucial for Hayes to develop his game.
  • The Pistons hold the No. 2 spot heading into next month’s draft lottery. The Athletic’s James Edwards III examines some potential scenarios, depending upon where the team sits after the lottery is held.

Pacers’ Pritchard Talks Bjorkgren, Frontcourt, FAs, More

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said no decisions have been made yet on the future of head coach Nate Bjorkgren, as J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star writes. Bjorkgren isn’t the only one whose future is up in the air, according to Pritchard, who pointed out that his own performance is still being evaluated by team ownership as well.

“I’m being evaluated. I’m being evaluated every day,” Pritchard said. “(Pacers owner) Herb (Simon) has to decide if I’m fit for this job and what I need to improve on. Then Nate and I will have a long conversation over many days on what he needs to improve on. … He is our coach as of now and I’ll have a fair discussion with him.”

The Pacers’ president of basketball operations acknowledged that Bjorkgren’s first year on the job was far from perfect. While Pritchard liked Bjorkgren’s handle on X’s and O’s, he said that the first-year coach did have a tendency to micromanage. Still, Pacers players didn’t express during their exit meetings that they were unhappy with Bjorkgren, Pritchard added.

Pritchard also pushed back against the idea that the Pacers hadn’t adequately done their homework on Bjorkgren before hiring him last summer, as Michael tweets.

We probably did 15 interviews around Nate,” Pritchard said. “We knew that he’s very specific in the way he likes things. We knew that. You got to give a coach some flexibility to do what he likes to do.”

Here’s more from Pritchard’s end-of-season presser:

  • Pritchard remains convinced that the Pacers can succeed without moving one of Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis (Twitter link via Michael). We like them both,” Pritchard said of the frontcourt duo. “They can definitely play together. You can stagger them.
  • Pritchard referred to Doug McDermott and T.J. McConnell as “core to what we’ve done” (Twitter link via Michael). Both players will be unrestricted free agents this summer, but it sounds like there’s mutual interest in continuing those relationships.
  • Although Pritchard stressed that the Pacers won’t be desperate to make deals this summer, he said he’d prefer not to get stuck in the “middle ground” between contending and rebuilding. I want to get in or get out,” Pritchard said, according to Michael (Twitter links). “Out means getting picks (and revamping the roster).”
  • Pritchard referred to the Pacers’ defense as “by far the most important thing that we have to take a look at,” as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. It remains to be seen whether that means addressing the personnel or the coaching staff and schemes.
  • Caris LeVert is one Pacer who has yet to have his exit meeting with team management, since he remains in isolation due to the COVID-19 protocols and wants to conduct his meeting in person (Twitter link via Agness).

Pacers Notes: Bjorkgren, McDermott, Turner, Draft

Following a Thursday loss in the East’s final 2021 play-in game, the Pacers‘ season is over, raising questions about the future of head coach Nate Bjorkgren. Although he was just hired last fall, Bjorkgren is said to be very much on the hot seat after a tumultuous, disappointing season in Indiana. For his part, the first-year coach was evasive on Thursday when asked whether he expects to be back.

“My focus is on the players right now,” Bjorkgren said, per J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). “I’m not thinking about myself. I’m really not. I just want to do what’s best for these guys.”

It’s decision time for the Pacers, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files, who advises not to be surprised if the club takes a little time to make a call on Bjorkgren’s status, one way or the other.

Bob Kravitz of The Athletic suggests that Bjorkgren probably took a banged-up Pacers team about as far could be realistically expected, but if he’s to return for the 2021/22, there must be changes — “both with Bjorkgren himself and with his coaching staff,” Kravitz writes.

As we wait on the Pacers’ decision, let’s round up a few more notes out of Indiana…

  • While it’s possible that Bjorkgren was the problem for the Pacers, Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star isn’t entirely convinced of that, and writes an offseason roster shakeup might not be the worst idea for the organization.
  • Most of the Pacers’ key rotation players are under contract for next season, but Doug McDermott is one important contributor who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. McDermott addressed his situation after Thursday’s game, as J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star relays (via Twitter): “I want to be a Pacer. It’s been a great three years. It’s been a great place to call home. I hope I can continue that.”
  • Although Myles Turner‘s toe injury didn’t heal in time for him to rejoin the Pacers before they were eliminated from postseason contention, he’s hoping to be healthy enough to compete for a spot on Team USA’s Olympic roster this summer, he tells Sean Deveney of Forbes.
  • As we outlined earlier today, the Pacers are now in line for the 13th pick in the 2021 draft, as long as their position isn’t affected by the lottery results. Nat Newell of The Indianapolis Star, noting that Indiana’s two most recent lottery picks were Turner and Paul George, examines the recent history of the No. 13 pick to get an idea of what sort of player the team could realistically land.

Eastern Notes: Irving, Holiday, Turner, Hornets, Howard

As Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link) details, Nets guard Kyrie Irving met the criteria for four of the eight bonuses in his contract this year, earning a total of $525K in incentives ($131,250 apiece). Three of those bonuses were considered unlikely entering the season but will now be considered likely for 2021/22, bumping Irving’s cap hit for next year to approximately $35.46MM.

Another standout Eastern Conference guard, Jrue Holiday earned a third $255K bonus this week for appearing in at least 59 games averaging more than 3.15 rebounds, Marks notes. Having already earned $765K in incentives, Holiday could further increase that number if he’s named to an All-Defensive team ($100K), if the Bucks come out of the East ($200K), and/or if Milwaukee wins the title ($1MM).

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Pacers center Myles Turner, who has appeared in just one game since April 6, is still dealing with turf toe and won’t be available for the team’s play-in game on Tuesday, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. I don’t think so,” head coach Nate Bjorkgren said on Sunday. “I wouldn’t expect Myles the next game.”
  • The Hornets will increase the capacity of the Spectrum Center to 60% (about 12,000 fans) for the postseason, the team announced in a press release. The Hornets previously had a 25% capacity for home games, but North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has lifted gathering restrictions in the state.
  • Sixers center Dwight Howard served a one-game suspension on Friday for having accumulated 16 technical fouls this year. However, Howard will get a fresh slate for the postseason, where he’d have to rack up seven more technicals before earning an automatic suspension.

Central Notes: White, Varejao, Turner, Holiday

The Bulls still may target a point guard in free agency this summer, but Coby White is showing indications that he can handle the job, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. While it has taken a while for White to adjust to the NBA, the 21-year-old is making progress at the end of his second season. He had 17 points and 10 assists Thursday night, marking his first game with double-digit assists since January 10.

White has returned to the starting lineup after Tomas Satoransky took over as the starting point guard for 15 games. Coach Billy Donovan believes White has benefited from playing alongside center Nikola Vucevic, who was acquired at the trade deadline, and a slower pace has also worked to White’s advantage.

“I’ve always had perseverance,” White said. “But this year, with ups and downs and being pushed constantly, from the coaching staff to front office to my teammates, I think for me learning to play the point guard position at a high level in the NBA, which is continuing to stay focused and continuing to stay within yourself.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers have received a hardship exception continuation to sign Anderson Varejao for the rest of the season, tweets Chris Fedor of Varejao’s first 10-day day contract has expired, but he has re-signed for the season’s final three days. This was Cleveland’s plan from the time Varejao was added to the roster, Fedor adds.
  • Even though he’s a long shot for the award, Pacers center Myles Turner stated his case for Defensive Player of the Year honors Thursday night, according to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Turner leads the league with 3.4 blocked shots per game, but he has missed 23 games due to injury and has no timetable to return. “I understand defense isn’t all about blocks,” Turner said. “That’s something I do best. After this season I’m going to lead the league in blocks in two out of the last three years. I defend the perimeter. I’m one of the better pick-and-roll defenders in the league. My team needs me out there. When I’m not out there, the difference is glaring.”
  • Bucks guard Jrue Holiday earned a $255K bonus by playing in his 58th game of the season Thursday night, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Holiday secured another bonus earlier this week for total minutes played.

Central Notes: LaVine, Sexton, Pacers Defense, Green

Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine has cleared the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and could be back on the floor as early as Thursday against the Hornets, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I think he’s excited to be back playing,” Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said of the All-Star guard. “I think for him getting in the gym [upon being cleared] was good.”

LaVine’s return may prove to be too little, too late for the struggling Bulls. Chicago has gone 4-7 without him. Sporting a 26-39 record, the Bulls are currently 4.5 games behind the ninth-seeded Pacers, four games behind the tenth-seeded Wizards and a half-game back of the No. 11-seeded Raptors. The team has eight contests left to play.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton is aware of critical chirps from his detractors, writes Chris Fedor of Fedor notes that Sexton wants to address his critics with his play. “They feel like I’m not doing good at something, I’m going to make sure I prove them wrong,” Sexton said. “They say I can’t be a point guard. Now these next stretch of games I’m going to go out there and show them I can do both — run the team and score the ball as well, and be efficient with it. I pretty much just take the criticism and run with it, and just have them look crazy down the stretch.”
  • The defensively-challenged Pacers are certainly missing their anchor on that end of the floor, injured center Myles Turner, but also the tactical maneuvering of former head coach Nate McMillan and assistant coach Dan Burke, opines Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star.
  • Recently-acquired Bulls wing Javonte Green showed flashes of promise in what was ultimately a 106-94 losing effort against the Sixers on Monday. Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic wonders if Green could be a potential long-term rotational addition for Chicago.

Pacers’ Pritchard Talks Holiday, McMillan, Small Market, More

It’s fair to say the Pacers have underachieved relative to expectations this season. After going 45-28 and finishing fourth in the East a year ago, the team is currently just 29-32 and will likely have to win one – if not two – play-in games to earn a postseason berth next month.

Still, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard isn’t disappointed with his team’s play, telling Bob Kravitz of The Athletic that it’s hard to properly evaluate the roster, given the outsized impact the coronavirus has had on the season, as well as all the injuries Indiana has endured.

“This season has been unlike any I’ve been a part of, and it’s proven to be challenging on many fronts. I’ve got a lot of scar tissue from this season; we all do,” Pritchard said. “In some ways, it’s been less about basketball than a lot of other things. But look at it, we’re a few games within fourth, and to go through what we’ve gone through as far as injuries, I want to see how this one plays out. We could have shut it down, but we’re playing hard; we’re just severely undermanned right now.

“We’re not that far away,” Pritchard added, “but because of all these injuries now, it feels like we’re miles away.”

T.J. Warren has been sidelined for nearly the entire season, while Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, and Caris LeVert are among the others who have missed time due to injuries.

As a result, Pritchard tells Kravitz that he still isn’t sure whether the roster will require a major overhaul or just a few tweaks this offseason. He’s also not ready to draw any conclusions about the long-term viability of the Turner/Sabonis frontcourt pairing.

“I’d like to answer that after the playoffs because that’s when it really counts,” Pritchard said of the two centers. “Hopefully, Myles will be back in time.”

Here are a few more highlights from Kravitz’s Q&A with the Pacers’ president, which covers plenty of ground and is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber:

On Aaron Holiday‘s down year:

“We still believe in Aaron. Sometimes in a year, for whatever reason, you prepare but you have some guys playing very well at his position. I know (head coach) Nate (Bjorkgren) wants to reward the guys who played well this year, and Aaron simply hasn’t played as well. We’ll need him at some point in time, believe me. Players who stay prepared almost invariably get another shot, and he’ll get another shot, but he’ll have to hit shots and play within our system.”

On whether there are any regrets about firing Nate McMillan, who is thriving in Atlanta:

“Look, Nate is a great friend; we worked together for more than a decade. I want him to do well. He’s got a really good team, good chemistry, and they’re going to be a tough team in the playoffs. But no animosity and no regret at all. This is a transitory business. If we were dismayed by people leaving us and having success elsewhere, what would that say about us? I’m happy for Nate, just the way I’m happy for Frank Vogel.”

On Paul George and Victor Oladipo both pushing their way out of Indiana, and whether there’s concern about a perception that stars don’t want to play for the Pacers:

“I think they’re all independent situations, first of all. We obsess with making this a great place for players. … Great training facility, the best doctors in the world. And look, Malcolm (Brogdon) chose us, the Rookie of the Year chose us, and he’s had a great experience.

“We get it; we’re not for everybody. We don’t have the beach and the big city, but it’s a great place to play basketball in front of people who truly appreciate when you play the right way. Great fans, educated fans, great facilities, and I always say this now: Players get marketed all around the world. Social media could be the great equalizer. You can be in a smaller market and still have a national profile.”

On how to deal with the challenge of being a small-market team:

“We’ve done some things well and haven’t done some things well, but for us, it almost feels like you have to play a perfect game to be hyper-competitive. There are teams who can make personnel mistakes; we really can’t. Our biggest source of players is trades, and that’s really tough. Trades are challenging. I feel good about the ones we’ve made, and we have to draft better, and we will, but I still have a ton of confidence in our scouting staff. It’s just, yes, it’s a major challenge given the fact that the bifurcation of the top teams seems to be getting greater in comparison with the mid- and small-market teams. That’s something we’re always going to have to deal with.”

Central Notes: Osman, Holiday, Pacers, Pistons Rookies

Cedi Osman has temporarily regained a rotation spot, giving the Cavaliers forward another shot to prove his value before the season ends, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Due to injuries, Osman made his first start since March 26 and his first appearance since April 14 on Sunday. Osman, whose front-loaded contract lasts through the 2023/24 season, had 19 points and five assists in 37 minutes.

“It was a lot of him putting the time in and working on his own game,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “I think he had some struggles early on, but I believe that Cedi is a good basketball player. And when given the opportunity, when playing with confidence and playing assertive, he can have an impact on the game.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Jrue Holiday is the biggest reason why the Bucks are a different team than last season, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic, and Nehm breaks down some of Holiday’s plays over the weekend to demonstrate his impact. Holiday signed a four-year extension worth up to $160MM earlier this month.
  • The Pacers have played well using small-ball lineups with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner sidelined by injuries and that should help them in the postseason, according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star“It makes us a better team because guys get time on the floor, which means, come playoff time, if those guys play they’ll be ready,” Justin Holiday said. “Whatever happens I think we’re going to be ready for it.”
  • Pistons rookies Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart are all receiving rotation minutes, prompting’s Keith Langlois to review past drafts to see how other teams with three or more first-rounders in the same year fared with their selections — so far, Detroit stacks up favorably to those clubs.