Struggling would-be contenders like the Celtics and Lakers could learn a lesson from the Pacers, who have bounced back impressively after losing star guard Victor Oladipo for the season, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.
Within his examination of the Pacers’ ability to battle through adversity, Windhorst notes that the club’s leaders – head coach Nate McMillan, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard, and GM Chad Buchanan – have an “open-door policy” when it comes to discussing players’ upcoming free agency — they aren’t afraid to sit down and talk to a player about his situation if he wants to, and have attempted to be transparent in those discussions.
As Windhorst observes, the Pacers’ rotation is stacked with players in contract years. Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, and Tyreke Evans are among those who will be unrestricted free agents this summer. With long-term uncertainty facing so many of Indiana’s vets, the work McMillan has done to keep them all on the same page this season is impressive.
Here’s more from out of Indiana:
- Chris Sikich of The Indianapolis Star provides the latest updates on a piece of legislation aimed in part at keeping the Pacers in Indiana for the next 25 years. As Sikich explains, the bill, which the Indiana Senate voted in favor of this week, would see the Pacers chip in about $63MM in new money for facility upgrades and would give the team until next April to negotiate a new long-term lease for the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
- Domantas Sabonis has been diagnosed with a left ankle sprain and may be forced out of action for the Pacers’ next few games, as J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star details. “He’s got a lot of swelling,” McMillan said. “He’s going to be out for a couple games. He’s not walking with crutches, but he can’t put a lot of pressure on it.” In Sabonis’ absence, frontcourt players like Kyle O’Quinn and T.J. Leaf could get the opportunity to play increased roles.
- Speaking of injured Pacers, while Oladipo won’t be able to return this season, he’s making progress in his rehab work. As Ameer Tyree of Sporting News passes along, Oladipo’s trainer recently posted a video of the All-Star guard working on his handle while wearing a leg brace.